June 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

When more than one channel produces an order, which gets the credit?

Paid search, natural search, e-mail, affiliates, blogs, social networks—customers can get to an e-commerce site from anywhere and everywhere. Which gets credit for a purchase? Dig deep into the data to find out, advises George Michie at IRCE.

Paid search, natural search, e-mail, affiliates, blogs, social networks-customers can get to an e-commerce site from anywhere and everywhere. The question is: How does an e-retailer give each marketing channel its proper due?

"From our clients we know not everyone places an order after the initial click. A little bit under 40% close in the same session, 18% close in the same day, then 5% a day later, then another 5% the day after that," said George Michie, co-founder and chief operating officer at consulting firm The Rimm-Kaufman Group in an IRCE 2009 session Wednesday titled "When There are So Many Marketing Vehicles, Who Gets the Credit for the Sale?" "The question is, what`s happening with all the folks who don`t order on the same session, are they coming back to us directly, are they waiting for another marketing aspect before they return. How are they behaving in the interim between the initial click and the order?"

Michie said that the best way to understand which marketing channels are the best performers is to dig deep into analytics. "Our approach is let`s look at the data," he said.

For example, a shopper might click on a display ad for a high-definition TV on Monday, click on another display ad for the same product on Tuesday, then conduct a Google search for the product on Wednesday, when he ultimately buys the television. After uncovering these points from analytics, a marketer should give more credit to the display ads, as they raised awareness of the product that caused the subsequent search and purchase, Michie said.

But in the end he advised retailers not to fret too much.

"About 80% of a retailer`s orders come from buyers who interact with one online marketing channel. Only about 15% of shoppers interact with two channels before buying, and fewer than 5% interact with more than two channels," he said. "The paths aren`t quite so complicated, you don`t need to stress out so much about multiple paths. What`s first and what`s last is most important."

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