An ever-growing number of choices has left European marketers tracking an average of 10 channels, up 10% in the past two years and two channels more than their US counterparts.
“The increase in channels used by consumers over the last two years highlights how complex marketing interactions have become,” said John Watton, Director Digital Marketing EMEA, Adobe. “With so many channels, it’s no wonder that campaign management and programmatic tools have become imperative.”
That’s the key finding from the latest Adobe Digital Index (ADI) report on the performance of digital marketing channels. (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company.) ADI analysed 1.3 trillion visits to more than 10,000 Web sites in the US and Europe that occurred over the past two-and-a-half years.
“This increased complexity also makes the need for a uniform customer experience even greater, since without that uniformity, more channels just mean more chances to confuse the customer,” Watton added.
The Importance Of Email
The analysis covered six key digital marketing tactics: direct (traffic obtained by either a bookmark or typed URL), search, social, email, display, and others.
“When we look at traffic trends, we do not see a big shift in how consumers use marketing channels on their desktop/laptops,” said ADI analyst Luiz Maykot. “However, when it comes to phones, direct traffic is being replaced by search traffic, as consumers look for the easiest way to access content and because mobile browsers encourage search.”
ADI also looked at roles played by various channels in the conversion of browsers into buyers. Each channel offers different opportunities, but when looking for maximum conversion, the hero is an old friend to marketers; email.
“Email traffic has seen steady growth on both phone and desktop, and plays a very important part in driving conversion,” said Maykot. “With enhancements in retargeting and greater personalisation opportunities, email channels consistently demonstrated the highest conversion and repeat visitors.”
ADI Principal Analyst Tamara Gaffney pointed out: “Although we’ve been talking about more sophisticated attribution models for a few years now, most marketers are still stuck on last-click tracking,” According to the last-click model and behind email, ADI ranked search traffic as the second highest driver of conversion, with those who type or bookmark a URL in third place. Surprisingly the ranking held true on both phones and desktops/laptops.
While email also proved to be best at getting converts back to European websites, with 10% of traffic via email coming from past purchasers, advances in targeting pushed display into second place, with 6.5% of visits coming from past purchasers. As compared with US websites, however, European sites still lagged in attracting prior converts; the corresponding US rates were 11% for email and 7.5% for display.
“Visitors who have made a previous purchase convert at rates six times higher than those who have never purchased before. European websites should prioritise advertising to prior site visitors to push their numbers up even further,” Gaffney said.
But ADI analysts were keen to stress that focusing on the last click can short-change the contribution of other channels at earlier stages in the customer’s journey.
“Social and display are often undervalued in last-click models,” Maykot said.
Attitudes To Personalisation
To provide additional context to this journey, in July ADI also performed a supplemental survey of attitudes to advertising among 1,600 smartphone users in the US and Europe.
Advertisers received mixed reviews on whether they’ve improved over the last two years in terms of showing consumers ads that are valuable/compelling. Those in the US and UK were more likely to have seen improvement, with those in the US most likely to say advertisers were “much better” (driven largely by women). Those in France were most likely to say they had become “much worse.”
Most consumers like personalisation, but those in the UK, France, and Germany were much more likely to say they didn’t think ads should be personalised in any way. Those between the ages of 18 and 34 in each country were more likely to like personalisation, but to call for it to be better done and to be “less creepy”.
Despite the well-publicised rise in ad blocking, half or more of respondents said they would be willing to watch between three and four video ads in exchange for access to premium content. Those between the ages of 18 and 34 showed an even higher willingness to make this trade-off, as do those with large smartphone screens.
“Brands have to deliver relevant advertising, but advertisers who attempt personalised advertising before they have built centralised, cross-device audience databases risk turning consumers off completely,” Watton said. “The clock is ticking to get this right.”
About Adobe Digital Insights
Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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