3 More Insights to Guide Your 2018 E-Commerce Digital Marketing Strategy

January 30, 2018

Digital Marketing By Bradley Hearn

You’ve probably heard it before: Someone finds your site by clicking one of your AdWords ads. The consumer returns a week later by clicking over from a social network. Later that same day, she comes back a third time via one of your email campaigns, and returns again a few hours later to make a purchase.

The modern path to purchase has always been complex. But now, there’s a new consideration to factor in: Where are those interactions taking place? In years past, many consumers saved product searches and purchases for desktops and laptops, but that’s no longer the case. Today, more than half of American consumers use their smartphones to make purchases.

What’s more, today’s connected consumer owns between three and four devices — a smartphone, a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, a voice-activated speaker, perhaps a gaming console or wearable — which means your e-commerce conversions could be occurring across a wide range of devices.

These changes have led to what’s known as “multi-screening,” and it’s having a huge impact on e-commerce conversions. With the typical consumer journey involving more devices and touchpoints than ever, it can be incredibly challenging to stay ahead.

Thankfully, there are three micro-measurements that can make it much easier to understand consumer behaviors in a mobile-first, multi-screen world:

  • Site speed
  • Cross-device conversions
  • Up-to-date attribution modeling

After touching on these important e-commerce analytics in an earlier post, it’s time to look at them in greater detail.

Site Speed

E-commerce sites tend to have expansive product offerings that require more resources, but that doesn’t mean they get a free pass when it comes to load time expectations. The longer it takes a website to load, the lower the conversion rate: A one-second delay can result in 7% fewer conversions.

With so many competing digital marketing tasks, it can be easy to put site speed tests on the backburner. That’s why we highly recommend making it a habit to regularly analyze your site performance with Google’s free PageSpeed Insights — put it on your calendar if you have to — to ensure slow pages aren’t lowering your revenue potential. To get a sense of common e-commerce site errors, check out this post.

Cross-Device Conversions

These days, consumers can move from smartphones to laptops and back again with incredible speed and ease. With the ever-increasing array of both devices and channels — paid search, local search, Google Shopping, social commerce, marketplaces and many, many more — the potential touchpoint combinations are virtually endless.

Some people are consistently using smartphones; others want to wait until they’re seated in front of a desktop screen or laptop keyboard to more closely examine products. Some prefer search and email for shopping ideas; others rely on Facebook feeds and Pinterest boards. Each person’s impression of your brand will vary based on the apps they’re using and the screen sizes they’re viewing.

So … how do you optimize the experience for everyone?

Enter the cross-device conversion. By measuring conversions across devices and between apps and browsers, you can get a much more accurate understanding of what the typical paths to purchase look like for your products. To get started, check out Google’s best practices guide for cross-device conversions

Attribution Modeling

If you’re still tracking first and last-click conversions only, we highly recommend updating your attribution models to better reflect your consumer’s journey.

While tracking channels like paid search and product listing ads will tell you a lot about consumers who have already reached the purchase phase, a more finely-tuned set of attribution models will help you decide when and where to connect with new consumers who have yet to discover or interact with your brand.

Not sure what to track? Determine your goals first, and choose an attribution model that supports your high-level business goals. When you want to ensure you’re maximizing return on every dollar spent, use a last-click attribution model to credit the final touch point before a purchase. If you want to understand the first interaction that’s capturing new customers before they start on their paths to purchase, use a first-click attribution model.

But don’t stop there.

You can use a linear attribution model to credit all touchpoints equally and understand your consumer’s journey at a more granular level. Or set up a time decay attribution model to give more credit to touchpoints closest to the sale (so you can maximize return on ad spend) while still allowing you to see other touchpoints that led to the conversion.

Take your time with this one, and make adjustments as needed. Use Google’s Model Comparison Tool to compare different attribution models and get a taste of what to expect before you make changes.

To recap: Sometimes, spending a little more time on a handful of key metrics is all you need to increase ROI. This is especially important as the number of devices and channels available to e-commerce consumers continues to rise. If you only have time to focus on a few, these three should be at the top of your list.

Looking for more tips to guide your e-commerce digital marketing strategy? Visit our resource center for tip sheets, guides, webinars and more on topics ranging from advertising on Amazon to Facebook and Instagram e-commerce essentials.

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