September 1, 2005, 12:00 AM

Follow the Money

(Page 3 of 3)

Programs that allow customers to register their purchases online provide another way to close the loop between web search and an eventual store purchase. Omniture, for example, worked with one client, a software publisher, on a program that assigned an identifying number to customers who downloaded a trial version of software. Eventual store purchases of the software could be tied back to the trial download when customers went online to register their purchased software. But again, not every customer chooses to register their purchase, so Omniture worked with the software publisher to understand what percentage of customers who bought the software did register. It then assigned a total value to the online search campaign by extrapolation.

A new CRM tool

If it seems as though analytics’ efforts to track the value of keyword campaigns across time and across channels goes beyond the realm of search marketing and folds in customer relationship management, post-sale support and other non-marketing retail disciplines, it’s because that is what’s required to connect the dots between channels. According to Forrester’s Chatham, “Web analytics is becoming customer analytics. Web analytics have the potential to grow beyond the web into a general customer analysis platform.”

That’s starting to roll out as marketers deploy analytics to build bridges between pairs of venues; for instance, tracking e-mail to web purchase, or web search to call center. “By breaking it down into pairs of channels at a time, it becomes a much more tractable problem,” he says.

Hynes says that in the past Staples has used means such as exit surveys attached to particular search results pages on to ask visitors poised to exist from those pages questions on why they were leaving, such as whether they were leaving because they intended to purchase the item in a Staples store. Research Staples conducted to support its recent site redesign confirmed what the earlier research showed about the percentage of customers who searched online with the intention of buying in the store.

As Staples gets deeper into analysis of transactional data against customer data, “Our intention is to be able to attribute sales and not just the intention to buy, but seeing that the customer actually made it to the store and bought the product,” says Hynes. “That’s where we’ll be moving in the future, being able to pull those things together.”



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