April 26, 2013, 3:49 PM

Google launches a wide-view tool for online marketing

Google launches a tool that describes how online shoppers get to the point of purchase.

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Online consumers who need at least two web “steps”—say, a paid search ad or an e-mail marketing message—before purchasing a product account for 66% of retail revenue, according to data Google Inc. started making available online this week.

The data point comes from “The Customer Journey to Online Purchase.” It may sound like a dry report that claimed the life of a few dozen trees. Instead, it’s a web site were users can toy around for free with information designed to show how online shoppers use web marketing, at least in the aggregate.

The findings there are based on online marketing data from more than 36,000 Google clients. Those clients, using Google’s analytical tools, account for “millions of purchases across industries in 7 countries,” according to a blog posting Thursday from Paul Muret, director of engineering for Google Analytics. Google Analytics  is used by 163 of the retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and 300 in the Second 500 Guide to gauge such e-commerce essentials as where site traffic originates and conversions, among other metrics.

The new tool could influence how online marketers spend their money, Google says. “A user may see a display ad, click on a link from a friend, or do a search before buying something from your web site, and all of these interactions can play a role in the final sale,” Muret writes. “It’s important to understand the entire customer journey so you can measure all of the elements that contribute to your campaigns, attribute the right value to them, and adjust your marketing budgets where appropriate.”

The industries covered include not only retail, but also automotive, consumer packaged goods (where the vast majority of purchases are relatively quick, given that they usually require little research, Google says), and technology (a category in which product research that takes more than 28 days leads to purchases worth 3.5 time more than immediate transactions). Among data that users can review are average order values by the days it takes to research before buying and how various online marketing methods impact sales.

Josh Dreller, director of marketing research for digital marketing firm Kenshoo, welcomed the Google tool, given the intertwining of social, search and other channels. But he cautioned that the Google tool doesn’t erase the homework burdens for online advertisers.

“Advertisers today not only need advanced means to measure this complex engagement but to also drive these insights into actionable optimizations quickly into market,” he says. “Google’s new benchmarking tool could offer a quick reality check for advertisers that want to know how they compare to others in their industry, but this requires that the advertisers understand their own customers’ path to purchase first.”

 

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