Cyber Monday Sales: Which Channel Provided the Biggest Impact?

As the owner of an eCommerce website, you most likely started planning your Cyber Monday marketing campaign sometime during the dog days of summer. You plotted out radio spots and print ads, budgeted some extra funds for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and scoped out several waves of email campaigns.

Now imagine this likely scenario: This last Cyber Monday, an individual is on his way to work on the train and hears a radio commercial that is of interest. He pulls out his iPhone and does a Google search for the company sponsoring the commercial. He starts poking around their website, but needs to stop as the train reaches his destination. Distracted by work, he doesn’t get a chance to get back to the site and it slips from his mind. A week or so later, as he is checking email he notices an ad on the page for that same website. With this reminder, he clicks on the ad, spends some more time browsing the site and ultimately makes a purchase.

Once the dust clears, which channel does the website owner attribute to the sale? In this case, there are three separate channels utilized by the purchaser: radio, organic search, and PPC re-marketing.

Welcome to the world of multi-channel attribution.

Even Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist and analytics expert states that “there are few things more complicated in analytics… than multi-channel attribution modeling.” 

Google Analytics (as well as other tools) provides a useful visual to show the interaction between digital channels. As seen below, you can select up to four channels and delve into the areas of overlap between two, three or even all four channels.


How does this help determine which channel had the most impact? It doesn’t. It does provide an overarching context for looking at the areas of overlap.

However, before you start pulling out your hair trying to make sense of this, keep reading. We need to talk about attribution modeling. Attribution modeling refers to a rule or set of rules “that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touch points in conversion paths.” 

Attribution models include:

1.      Last Interaction

2.      Last Non-Direct Click

3.      Last AdWords Click

4.      First Interaction

5.      Linear

6.      Time Decay

7.      Position Based

The model you use will need to be specific to your business and marketing goals. Ultimately, you should obtain a clear vision of how the various channels are working together to drive revenue, as well as your spend and return on investment (ROI) for those paid channels. Once you understand this for your Cyber Monday sales, you should be able to apply the same models to December holiday sales as well as year-round.

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