Shifting your digital marketing strategy in the world of modelled data

Friday, July 7, 2023

Oh, how we miss the days before the IOS 14 update when it was much easier to track digital advertising data and attribute sales to the channels that they came from. Since then, it’s a lot harder to attribute sales to the platform where the sale came from, with less cookie data and more reliance on modelled data. During this time, and with the move over to GA4, there’s been a lot of panic over whether some marketing channels have become redundant in leading to conversions and revenue with performance appearing to drop off a cliff. However, this doesn't mean the channel isn’t vital as part of the customer journey and experience. Each marketing channel still has its place along the customer journey - just because it wasn’t the last touch point, doesn’t mean that channel hasn’t been a contributing factor to a customer’s decision in making a purchase.


Written by

Account Director

So, how should you be viewing your digital marketing strategy? 

Firstly, you need to look at your marketing performance and strategy holistically rather than in silos because in theory, despite the change in attribution, metrics like your total revenue and total site sessions shouldn’t really change. It’s expected to see a slight discrepancy versus what you may have seen in Universal Analytics but if this has changed drastically, then there could be an issue with either your GA4 tracking, website or marketing. 

You need to understand how each marketing channel plays its part along with the KPIs for each channel, but these can’t all be direct revenue/conversions. 

For example, Paid Social may be seen as more of an early or mid touchpoint, so sessions and add to cart may be the KPIs you’d focus on for this channel, versus PPC where it can often be an end touchpoint so revenue and conversions will apply more.

Look at your conversion paths 

A good place to see your current purchaser's conversion paths is by heading to GA4 and looking for the Conversion Paths report. You can find this via the following; 

  1. In Google Analytics, click Advertising on the left.

  2. Go to Attribution > Conversion paths.

Once in there, you can see the early, mid, and late touchpoints by channel and even find things like average days to conversion and average touchpoints to conversion. 

How first-party data can support your strategy 

If you want to have a bit more control over the data that you use to help make strategic decisions, then we recommend looking at first-party data. The best way to collect this is either by post-purchase surveys where after purchase completion, you ask the customer, ‘Where did you hear about us?’ and supply a list of the marketing channels you use, plus an ‘Other’ option to make sure you catch all data possible. 

You could also look at having a site pop-up that asks, ‘What brought you here today?’ or  ‘Where did you hear about us?’. This information will give you a clearer idea of where customers attribute the channel that brought them to your site and to eventually purchase.

Review Channel KPIs & Overall Performance Targets 

Once you’ve reviewed your individual channel KPIs, you should then consider looking at an overall blended target. For example, if you’re a D2C brand and profitable revenue growth is your overarching business goal, you’d want to consider a blended ROAS target where you take the total revenue generated across all channels divided by the advertising spend across all channels.

Total revenue / total advertising cost  = Return on ad spend (ROAS)

Review Your Marketing Plans 

With your new goals and KPIs set in place, it’ll be easier to review your marketing performance both from a holistic top-level view and from an individual channel. You want each marketing channel to hit the right people at the right point with the right message in their customer journey and in turn this should lead to improved performance across the board. 

It’s worth remembering to focus on wider channel performance rather than just the channels that bring the most direct revenue, as eventually your top of the funnel will empty out and business performance won’t be sustainable.  

Key Takeaways

  • Set and use blended overall performance targets 

  • Look at modelled-data & first-party data to help support your strategy

  • Review your marketing plans