No, They Didn’t Just Type Your URL Into Their Browser!

Why Attribution Is Important

Here’s a story that could be told in any marketing office in any country. A lead comes in through your website and the first question that gets asked is “Where did they come from”. Or in other words, what marketing effort should receive the credit for sending us a lead.

Generally speaking, most people will dive right into their analytics reports to identify where this lead came from and by association, which marketing effort is going to get the credit.

This happened to us the other day, at our agency, and I thought it would be a great story to illustrate why it’s important to do a deep dive when flushing out where a sales lead comes from.

We had a lead that came to us, through our website, that turned out to be a great prospect. Their company fit the client profile, that we use for our marketing, to a tee. Whenever you get a good quality lead you want to identify which marketing campaign or effort delivered them. Our first step what to dig into our GA reports and start to find this person.

At First Glance

We pulled Behavior Flow report from our GA for the day that the lead came in. What we were able to find was that the person came to our website as what GA identified as “direct” . That means that they typed our URL directly into their browser. Now, in the marketing world, this is a huge disappointment because there is no way of knowing how they ever heard of us, or how they ever got the URL to our website. (click image for bigger view)

If you are using a “last-click attribution” model, this is where your knowledge ends. However, if you’ve setup your marketing strategy to not just measure “last-click” in your attribution of where leads come from you can get the real facts about what marketing efforts are paying dividends.

In our case we use a number of different tools and strategies for our marketing and for our attribution of lead generation. Here’s what we found as we did a deeper dive on this particular lead.

This lead filled out the contact us form on our site on Wednesday but had visited our site, first, on Monday of the same week. And, that visit to our site started with a Google search!. This is really important to know because if we didn’t have this information, we wouldn’t be giving credit to all of the time, effort, and money that we put into our search marketing strategy.(click image for bigger view)

Trouble w/Last-Click Attribution

As I’ve already reviewed, last-click attribution is a problem because it doesn’t give you a clear understanding of how a prospective customer finds you which will lead to making bad decisions on where to allocate marketing dollars, or even where to allocate your time.

In fact, a last-click attribution model is actually biased to people that are already at the “ready to buy” stage of the buyer’s decision making cycle. So if that is all you’re measuring you’re missing out on all of the people that are in the earlier stages of the buying cycle. A better marketing strategy is to focus on getting people to buy your product or services that wouldn’t be exposed to you without your marketing.

A Better Plan

Blended attribution is a model that measures a person’s engagement from the beginning of their realization of your company, products, and/or services. Setup your marketing campaigns with custom URL’s so that you can measure a person across multiple touchpoint and website visits. This will help you form a very detailed picture of what marketing channels are working and which are not. It will also have a pretty dramatic impact on your marketing ROI.