Measuring the consumer journey

By Conor McGovern

Today’s consumer is digitally savvy. They are present on multiple devices and know what products, services or information they want to consume, and how to get it whenever they want. Consumer actions are breeding a very competitive and challenging environment for businesses, and as a result, companies need to fight harder than ever before for consumer attention and loyalty.

Anticipating a consumer’s journey – from initial engagement through to conversion – and measuring their interactions across channels, is another relatively new challenge for businesses. And it is a challenge worthy of taking on as the result can offer tremendous business advantage.

With today’s multichannel consumer in mind, Chief Marketing Officers are exploring multichannel attribution as it enables marketers to accredit the performance and costs of multichannel marketing programs to specific marketing tactics. It also brings a greater understanding of consumers’ intentions and behaviour to better determine which marketing channels to address.

Multichannel attribution can offer great benefits to businesses – from greater customer engagement to improved budget allocations and ROI – but to experience the benefits, marketers must work through a key data-centric challenge.

The big data challenge

One of the biggest multichannel attribution challenges for marketers is that the metrics of consumer interactions remain relatively siloed.

Metrics exist for measuring consumer activity in each channel but not for measuring the entire consumer journey in an integrated manner. This makes questions such as ‘How should the investment be apportioned across channels?’ and ‘How much credit should be attributed to each consumer interaction across channels, and on what basis?’ much more difficult for marketers to answer.

When it comes to measuring consumer data, one reliable approach that works well in all situations has yet to emerge, but there are a number of multichannel approaches that are yielding positive results.

One approach is ‘clustering’, which involves grouping customers with similar profiles together in order to identify patterns, helping to dynamically identify trends and similarities in customer behaviour.

Another approach is through ‘logistic regression’, enabling marketers to optimise future activities and drive sales, through scenario planning.

Alternatively, marketers can choose to leverage machine learning algorithms that use complex mapping functions for estimation. This is especially helpful where there is a lack of consistent historical information, as is often the case, or an absence of a theoretical framework around causal relationships among variables.

So, what do the next 12-24 months look like?

There are currently only a small set of organisations that have truly invested in multichannel attribution practices. However, organisations with foresight are already underway in adopting this approach and they can start to deliver added value across the board.

As multichannel attribution gains in popularity, companies can make more accurate investment decisions across consumer touch points, changing the way marketing campaigns are run for the better. It means companies will be in a better position to test consumer interest for new products and services, learn from early consumer responses and make necessary changes before launching to a wider audience.

With this being possible, it’s likely that we’ll start to see multichannel attribution becoming a key part of not only the marketing strategy but also a part of the company’s overall business strategy as well.

About the author

Conor McGovern is managing director of marketing and channel optimization for Accenture Interactive. He has over 14 years consulting and business development experience helping a wide range of businesses understand and improve their returns from media and marketing investment.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 281,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013.

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