The office supplies retailer say it sacrificed some sales to improve online profitability. It also redesigned its business-facing e-commerce site, StaplesAdvantage.com.
The online purchase process may involve multiple site visits over time, but it’s typically the last campaign touched by a customer before purchase that gets all the credit. Toshiba and Coremetrics are working on a tool that could change that.
A piece of equipment such as a laptop is a highly-considered purchase that may involve several visits to multiple sales channels over time. But historically, analytics have assigned all the credit for the purchase to the last online campaign in that process, the link where the customer hits the Buy button. That means online brand-building advertising activities don’t receive credit for the eventual purchase. Toshiba’s digital products division, which sells online at Toshiba.com, is working on a project that could change that.
For the past six months, Toshiba has been working with analytics vendor Coremetrics to develop a tool to track the early-campaign information through to sales. The new functionality will seek to pull from Coremetrics` data warehouse customer-specific histories of their interaction with every campaign leading up to a purchase; Toshiba will use that data to attempt to weight the value and ROI of each stage.
Toshiba already was working to trace purchases back to earlier in the buying process, for instance; by dynamically presenting phone numbers tied to particular campaigns to online visitors. “Even if the customer came back 90 days later, the phone number from the prior campaign would come up, so not only were we tracking online sales, but also tracking call center sales from the campaign,” says Nick Roberts, director of e-commerce and marketing programs. However, an increase in online marketing activity over the past two years pointed up the need for a more robust method of tracking the effect of advertising activity earlier in the process so as to justify spending at different stages.
Roberts says such analysis will have a direct bearing on marketing spending and ROI, because it could place a monetary value on aspects of customer buying behavior in a way that most analytics packages currently do not. For example, he says, “laptop” is an expensive keyword whose cost can’t be justified solely on the basis of conversions directly off the term. That said, it’s an important branding word, and one that Toshiba knows shoppers continue to use as a starting point in searches that occur well down into the conversion funnel. With an analytics tool that tracks the behavior of the same customers through a succession of campaigns, Toshiba will be better equipped to justify what it spends on “laptop” and other branding keywords, Roberts says.