In a recent Google Think Insights report entitled, The Customer Journey to Online Purchase (www.google.com/think/tools/customer-journey-to-online-purchase.html), the venerable search and stats company explains how website owners can better measure their website’s visitor activity and how this activity impacts upon the online sales process.
Google says its report reveals transactional data obtained from 36,000 Google Analytics accounts and profiles with e-commerce tracking enabled, and whose owners have authorized sharing this data. Filtering selected profiles to exclude those with no conversions or negative value conversions, with conversion values such as path length, time lag and channel distribution derived from Google Analytics’ Multi-Channel Funnels, the report provides some interesting insights of value to all online marketers.
Google says its report reveals transactional data obtained from 36,000 Google Analytics accounts and profiles with e-commerce tracking enabled, and whose owners have authorized sharing this data.
“These days, the customer journey has grown more complex,” the report states, adding, “Before making an online purchase decision, a customer may engage with your brand through many different media channels over several days.”
This opening salvo underscores an important consideration often overlooked by adult website marketers wed to the idea that porn is an impulse purchase and nothing more. This notion might have been truer in the past, but with many consumers burned by overpromises, under delivery, shoddy sites, disappointment and fraudulent charges, those remaining prospects still willing to pay for porn are often doing their homework before the sale. This involves reading reviews and user comments and searching for complaints about billing issues and potentially problematic offers.
The upshot is that online purchases, especially porn sales, are not always a straight shot from ad to join page, completed in a single session; but often the result of mixed media awareness and a multi-day evaluation of the suitability of the offer.
Google’s new tool helps users explore and understand the customer journey in order to improve their marketing programs, by evaluating how different marketing channels (including display ads, email, paid search ads, social media, and direct visits to a user’s website) affect customer purchase decisions at the different points along the way in the purchase path.
The company highlights the different roles that marketing channels play in this customer journey, illustrating how “assisting channels” build awareness, consideration, and intent earlier in the customer journey or purchase funnel, while “last interaction channels” act as the last point of contact prior to a positive purchase decision.
The tool allows users to view results aggregated across all industries or via specific segments such as auto, biz, classified/local, media, retail, tech and more. This data can be further refined by country, with Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, U.K. and the U.S. currently represented.
Interestingly, location seems to play as big a role as industry segment in the statistics, which reveal whether each channel offers more of an “assist” or “last interaction” step in the online sales process, with an “assist/last interaction ratio” helping to illustrate this behavior.
According to Google, a channel’s position on the chart is defined by its assist/last interaction ratio, and in general, ratios less than one indicate a channel acts more as a last interaction with customers, while ratios greater than one mean that the channel acts more as an assist interaction.
Google also explains that 47 percent of total revenues are derived from multi-day sales cycles, where the customer is carefully evaluating his or her purchase decision based upon a wide range of information, much of which may come from existing customers via social media channels.
The company also examines how the length of the customer journey impacts purchase value, noting that the length of the customer journey, measured in both number of days and number of interactions, varies widely depending on the type of purchase.
“Some decisions require substantial research, while others are made very quickly. Typically, more complex purchases lead to longer paths and larger purchase values,” the report finds. “Naturally, each customer journey is unique — but you’ll be better equipped to understand your performance if you put it in context.”
Finally, Google’s Benchmarks Dashboard tool lets users set up questions and predictions about their own marketing activities to put these theories to the test. By comparing the results they obtain from their own promotional efforts against industry standards, adult website operators have a gauge of how they can improve their processes for better profits, making the most of the traffic their sites receive.