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Marketing ROI – tracking user journeys is hard

You would think that digital marketing makes it easy to measure return on investment (ROI), but it is so easy to make bad decisions based on the wrong assumptions.

The slides below are from my presentation called The journey of an eyeball, which I gave at Marketing Week Live. The aim of this presentation is to show how you cannot measure digital channels in isolation.

Take SEO, for instance. Many marketing managers hire an SEO expert with the aim of growing traffic from organic search, and with the expectation that this will translate into more sales.

If you use Google Analytics to monitor your traffic and your conversions, you can easily filter website traffic by source.

Google Analytics traffic by channel

If you take this Analytics data at face value, you can easily draw the wrong conclusions about which marketing activity is working.

User journeys are not linear. No two people will make a buying decision after following exactly the same path. Customers can interact with your brand in multiple places before eventually buying from you.

Social media, PPC, email newsletters, organic searches – a customer can use all these channels and more on their journey. In B2B, users complete a large proportion of their decision-making process without actually talking to you, reading several pieces of content.

If you look at your traffic and conversions in Google Analytics filtered by channel, the default view is last-click attribution. In other words, if someone searches for your brand and then buys from you in that same session, that would appear to be a sale generated by SEO activity.

But that same customer may have searched for your company after previously visiting through an email newsletter. The real question, when it comes to measuring ROI of marketing, is to consider where the customer was acquired.

This is what I explore in the following presentation.

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