There are multiple touch points in any marketing campaign. A customer may have seen a few display ads, clicked on a social link, searched a website and read several email marketing messages before making a purchase. John Dietz, VP-products at Adometry Inc., said his company typically sees about four to 10 touch points before conversion; yet most companies attribute the last touch as the one that helped convert a prospect to a customer.
That's a big misconception, he said, since every touch point is not equal. One or more of the touches is going to be responsible for getting that customer to make a decision, and it's very rarely the last one. This is why metrics cannot live in silos anymore, especially email metrics. But very few marketers—and even fewer b2b marketers—are looking at their campaigns as a whole, one analyst said.
“When it comes to the percentage of people using [a metric] beyond the last touch point measurement [to assign attribution], it's really the minority,” said Joanna O'Connell, principal analyst at Forrester Research.
The problem stems from a fear of change—and loss of marketing dollars, said O'Connell, who tracks the interactive marketing segment. “Organizations are set up by channels, and channel owners manage channel budgets,” she said. “When you start looking at advanced attribution, you might find that search is being allocated more than it should be based on data, so the search person is going to "lose' money to display or email marketing.”
But marketers shouldn't be afraid, O'Connell said. Analytics can help them increase the efficiency of their programs. “Just the fact that analytics create more collaboration within an organization is a good thing,” she said.
One of the easiest ways to get started is to combine email analytics with Web analytics using the free Google Analytics offering, said Tom Sather, senior director of email research at Return Path. Marketers can use metrics from both channels to determine who is clicking through and where customers and prospects go once they do click through. Metrics such as number of page views, bounce rate and time on page can be key when designing future campaigns or tweaking existing ones, he said. “They help [marketers] make informed decisions about optimizing the website and future campaigns,” Sather said.
Web analytics can also inform triggered email campaigns, said Kelly Davis, senior VP-client services at BrightTag, a company that provides marketing tracking tags. “Email teams can send information in real time to capture a customer's attention immediately after they have engaged with a site,” she said. “It's a way to follow up immediately rather than having to wait for batch processing.” This type of remarketing is very common in the b-to-c world where retailers, for instance, send emails about products that were put into a shopping cart but abandoned. It doesn't happen as much in the b2b world, however, and those marketers are definitely missing out, Davis said.
Chris Parkin, director of strategic alliances and Genesis Solutions at Adobe Systems, said his customers are combining Web analytics and email analytics to determine how the most profitable customers were acquired so they can duplicate those efforts in addressing prospects in the future. For example, if someone signed up for email marketing after viewing a webinar or downloading a white paper, the company may want to create additional offers or landing pages based on that collateral.
Search is another marketing channel that can provide complementary analytical data to the email marketing channel. “If someone visits your site via a search term and registers, it's far more cost-effective to continue to engage with that individual via email,” Parkin said.
Search data is also helpful when planning email campaigns. The same keywords that get people to click through from a search page may be equally effective in an email campaign, for example. Manu Mathew, president of Visual IQ, a marketing intelligence software provider, said one of his company's customers, a technology software provider, used search metrics to improve its overall email marketing campaign and boost the number of free trial conversions it was receiving via email. “The company was reusing the [successful] ad copy and nonbranded keyword in its email marketing program, seeing a 15% lift when reusing content,” he said. Mathew suggested using search metrics such as geographic location to target blasts that work with specific audiences. If you know a large percentage of people is coming in from the Northeast via a specific keyword or offer, he said, it's probably going to work equally as well with people in your prospect database that live in a similar location.
There are more sophisticated ways to integrate email metrics with other marketing metrics, said Jeanne S. Jennings, a consultant for Email Marketing Strategy. She suggested merging e-commerce data with email metrics to help segment lists and provide better targeting. “You need to be able to track revenue by list, and the key to that is [knowing] the number of sales, total revenue generated and the number of items per sale,” she said. “The idea is [marketers should] be able to track revenue that comes from the email channel and be able to track it from a specific campaign and specific emails in a campaign.”
This starts with lead scoring, Jennings said. Once marketers figure out how valuable a lead is based on its score, then they can start adding email metrics to that score—did the customer consent to a demo, did they download a white paper? Eventually, you can see which pieces of creative are driving good results and which aren't doing much to push the prospect along the sales funnel.
Social metrics are another data set that email marketers can mine for gold. Some marketers are using third-party social intelligence companies such as Fliptop Inc. and Connection Engine to marry their own email data with publicly available social profile data, said Ari Osur, general manager at ClearSaleing, an analytics and attribution company. “These companies pull in your email data and overlay it so you can see how many channels people are engaging with your company in.” Marketers can use that data to see which channels are most used. If the best customers are engaging with a company via Twitter, Facebook, email and LinkedIn, marketers may want to craft campaigns to get prospects and customers who provide less revenue onto those channels, Osur said.
Marketers can also use simple social metrics by, for example, creating a list of active influencers and sending them early news and offers ahead of time, said Return Path's Sather. And the most important goal for any social program, Jennings said, is to get those who friend, or retweet or join a group to sign up for email marketing programs as well.
In the end, marketers must start using all their analytics and tools if they want to keep up, said Forrester's O'Connell. “In a world where the consumer's behavior is so sophisticated ... marketers just need to get smarter and savvier about how they communicate,” she said. “No one makes purchasing decisions in channel silos, so marketers need to take a more multichannel approach to measurement; and attribution moves us closer to alignment.”