Measuring Ecommerce Ad Attribution for Maximum Impact

When it comes to ad attribution across channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Google, many marketers only look at cost-per-click (CPC). They get excited by the number of clicks on their ads, invest more in the channels that led to the most clicks, and consider their job done.

But do you know how many of those clicks actually led to revenue?

Up to 98% of visitors to your site will not buy on their first visit, so lots of clicks on an ad does not mean that your marketing campaigns are a success. Especially if those visitors leave your site after ten seconds and never return, you’ve wasted that money. If the traffic is not high quality, then it isn’t going to contribute to your company’s bottom line.

In other words, that great CPC may not deliver a high overall ROI for your campaigns.

So how do you effectively measure ecommerce ad attribution? Depending on the goals of your marketing campaigns, a conversion may not be a simple path to a single sale. It could be any desired action, such as a newsletter signup, an Instagram follow, or even entering a competition. It could also include multiple marketing campaigns across multiple channels.

While attribution isn’t a perfect science, you need to measure ecommerce ad attribution according to revenue, not vanity metrics like CPC. If you want to see which ads ultimately have maximum impact on sales, it’s time to re-think your marketing attribution.

Why ad attribution matters

As the cost of paid ads rises across channels, the importance of accurately measuring ad attribution also increases. If you’re not careful, your brand could be wasting massive amounts of money on ads that don’t even covert. (Yikes!) Paid ads vary in cost based on your target market, of course, but research suggests paid ads costs rose a solid 12% in the past two years alone. And prices are continuing to rise every day.

At the same time, you can’t simply opt out of these digital channels as a B2C brand. Instagram, for example, is key for new product discovery. In fact, 80% of people follow at least one business on the channel and 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products on the platform. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder so many B2C brands are betting big on paid ads. So if you can’t opt out, and costs are rising quickly, measurement could be the difference between a brand that thrives and one that fails. 

How to measure ad attribution

If you want to accurately measure your ecommerce ad attribution, first you need to know your customers better. You need to be able to identify visitors as individuals as they land on your site. You need to understand:

  • The ad channel and campaign that sourced the visit
  • The pages and product categories viewed as buyers move across your site
  • If buyers end up purchasing immediately or visit multiple times

But all this is easier said than done. Because of the complex path of today’s buyers online, you have to stitch together all the different interactions one person has with your brand across channels and devices. Using user resolution, you can access all of this historical information as soon as a buyer shares their email address. You can then piece together the steps between the initial click from an ad campaign and the eventual purchase.

You also need to understand first touch, last touch, and multi-touch attribution. Then you can see if an ad campaign was the first point of entry for a conversion, the last touch, or somewhere in the middle. By pulling all this information together, only then can you get an overall view of your customer behavior and more accurately measure your ecommerce ad attribution.

How can you use ad attribution data?

When you’ve started piecing together customer behavior and better understand ad attribution, you will finally know exactly which campaigns are impacting conversions and driving real ROI. Then, you can start optimizing your marketing campaigns to increase purchase velocity and start spending your money more wisely.

If you use a B2C CRM, you can create a filter to compare the source of a conversion with the engagement from clicks, as well as the revenue and conversion rate.

This report allows you to understand which ad channels are providing the highest-quality clicks — not by CPC, but according to real revenue. Once you’ve found the most effective channel, you can start directing more resources there and start optimizing your ads by A/B testing all the copy and images.

You should be looking at this report far more than you look at your Facebook ads manager, for example. Social media platforms are only incentivized to get you to spend more and more on ads — no matter how well they’re actually converting on your site. It’s up to you as the smart marketer to make sure those ads actually lead to new sales.

Examples of great social ads

What does it look like when a brand does a great job at paid ad attribution? Take swimwear brand Andie Swim. Due to the visual nature of the channel and the target audience of a woman in her 30s, the company prioritized Instagram for ad spend. It became the brand’s most successful direct customer acquisition channel, with the least amount of dollars needed to acquire a customer.

Dormify is another brand that uses Instagram since the start to reach its target audience of college students and young professionals. It’s also where the interior decor brand sees the most engagement, growth, and impact, for both paid and unpaid posts.

If you want to maximize your customer acquisition costs from social media platforms like Instagram, then you need to make sure that you’re measuring your ad attribution the right way.  If you want to use each platform effectively, you need to be measuring conversions not clicks. Then, you can drive up ROI and continually optimize your marketing campaigns for the best possible results.


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