Giving Organic Search Credit
If you use organic search as your tip-of-the spear prospecting tool, a model that ascribes the most value to the first click (a first click model), may understate the role of the other activities that go into your marketing effort. In the past, first-click models gave new e-commerce-only businesses an easy way to frame brand recognition and customer acquisition, but they are much too simple for complex marketing programs.
Another popular type of model which gives the most credit to the last event that happened prior to purchase often overstates the role of the activities that occurred subsequent to the initial contact that may, in fact, have resulted from an organic search. Thus, they understate the impact organic search has on the marketing success.
Other types of models use more linear approaches, where each touchpoint is given equal credit for the final conversion. But not all events are equal, and consumers take many different and often unpredictable paths. The more sophisticated models ascribe the majority of the credit to the first or last click and then gives varying valences to the other touchpoints. Other models, so-called "time decay" models, recognize and respect the length of the purchase process and give the most credit to the most recent activity and less to those that occurred days or weeks before. To decide what model will more fairly depict the value of your organic search program, you need to consider where and how organic search fits in the purchasing process. Your analytics will help you recognize the paths that customers coming from search typically follow.
As you go about building your budget, look closely at the role that organic search plays in your overall marketing program. Build an attribution model that recognizes how your consumers relate to your site through search. Then, as you budget, you may find that you are giving too little credit or too much credit to organic search. In my experience, most marketers find themselves wishing for better search organic search results because they find that it is a key force, no matter what type of model they are using.
The purpose of this blog is to provide insights and tips for how to use search profitably. It will cut through the volumes of information that threaten to overwhelm the busy marketer and will focus on what is truly important for making search work.