May 8, 2003, 12:00 AM

Who knew? Analytics tool shows online campaigns doing better than thought

Fireclick’s Netflame tracks deferred conversions from marketing campaigns, giving campaign credit to shoppers who click on a promotion to visit, but return to buy later.

At a time when e-retailers are tracking the return on every marketing dollar, the application of analytics often shows where marketing dollars are being wasted. But it also can show the opposite, as Brooklyn, NY-based retailer Etronics found. When it applied a recently developed module from analytics provider Fireclick Inc.`s Netflame service to its online campaigns, it found it was getting twice the conversions on the campaigns it had initially believed.

The new module captured deferred conversions, in addition to the direct conversions already captured by Netflame. “Etronics.com is making twice as much money as we thought we were from our marketing, and we had no way of knowing this before,” says Etronics vice president and owner Mayer Balser.

Fireclick vice president of sales and marketing Steve O’Brien says that when merchants send out mass e-mails or buy keywords they typically track revenue by direct conversion; defined as those purchases that occur when a shopper clicks through to the site from the promotion and immediately makes a purchase.

But that doesn’t capture the people who clicked through, didn’t buy then, but came back to the site to buy later, a common occurrence with higher-ticket or more considered purchases. “The deferred conversion feature sees a cookie that says a visitor had originally been brought to the site by this keyword or that e-mail, and it credits that campaign with the conversion,” O’Brien says. The feature is set by default to recognize site visitors originally brought in from a promotion for seven days after they initially visit, but the time period can be set at whatever a merchant wants, O’Brien adds.

For Etronics, which sells consumer electronics items, a higher-ticket product category, the tool proved essential in judging ROI from its marketing campaigns, Balser says. It swung the company’s decision to stay with some online ad campaigns it had considered borderline by showing that, including deferred conversions, the campaigns were actually performing better than believed. “People do come back to the site to buy in a second, third or fourth session,” he adds, estimating that for a given marketing campaign, as many as half of conversions occur during a deferred session.

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