Persona Based Attribution Rules

Posted on January 15, 2013

I am a big fan of Kevin Hillstrom and his Mine That Data blog. Back in October he published an example path to purchase and asked for comments on how people would attribute it. Go read the post, the comments are quite interesting.

The user journey in question is as follows:

  1. Customer receives a catalog on October 1.
  2. Customer receives email campaign on October 2.
  3. Customer receives email campaign on October 4.
  4. Customer visits site on October 5 via paid search, branded term.
  5. Customer visits your mobile website on an iPad on October 6 via affiliate website, purchases item featured in October 1 catalog, uses free shipping promo code from affiliate website.

Kevin has also created three personas which are useful to understand how different generations shop these days. The three personas are:

  1. Judy, an older women who prefers to shop by catalogue and who doesn’t really engage with a lot of modern marketing
  2. Jennifer, who loves using search and affiliates to find a great bargain
  3. Jasmine, who is much younger than the others. Her shopping habits are more likely to revolve around mobile and social.

You should read Kevin’s summaries of the three personas because I haven’t really gone into much detail.

It occurred to me the other day that how credit for distributing an order should be distributed depends a lot on who the order is made by.

If the above purchase path is from Judy then the catalogue should get more credit because we know that this is important to Judy.

For Jennifer, it is the free shipping promo code that should get the credit because we know that Jennifer loves free shipping.

For Jasmine, I am not sure how to credit the order because (to my mind) non of the channels featured are particularly Jasmine-ish. Perhaps this path would never happen for a Jasmine?

For long, fairly unique, paths like in the example this approach probably won’t make much difference; each path is probably indicative of a particular persona. For shorter paths that are conceivably be taken by more than one persona I think that attributing the sale based on what we know motivates the person could be a useful way of seeing what is actually driving a conversion.

This approach depends on two things:

  1. Having good personas that actually reflect the audience for a website
  2. Being able to accurately assign a customer into a persona segment

My guess is that parts one and two will both be beyond most businesses so they’ll have to stick with always attributing the same conversion path in the same way.