An intelligent business: understanding the conversion path for an online booking

IN-DEPTH: Today a large portion of conversions overlap multiple channels. So it is challenging for marketers to appropriately credit each of these channels in order to optimise marketing efforts.

Exploring the number of exposures for a message or campaign and understanding how long a transaction may take is, however, a worthwhile exercise. EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta investigates


Marketers leverage attribution models to better understand the value of each touch point and to optimise marketing efforts. By better understanding how different media interact and assist with securing an online booking, marketers can improve efficiency and save money. The plan now is to move away from a fragmented approach to online marketing and last-click attribution.  When they have a full picture of how all the media channels interact, it is possible to create something greater than the sum of its parts – and increase order value and speed up conversion.

To delve deeper into what affects the speed of a booking and size of the average order value (AOV), digital marketing solutions specialist IgnitionOne recently conducted a study. It found that travel buyerssaw on average 5.6 media exposures before booking and that this took about 13.2 days. These media exposures were seen on an average of 1.7 channels.

Also, 51% of transactions included exposures from multiple channels, requiring de-duping of credit.


Source: IgnitionOne


Three notable findings from report: 

  • Paid search is a key driver in getting customers to spend more money. Outside of organic search, it drives a 71% higher average order value than any other single-channel campaign. Within multi-channel campaigns, when paid search follows an organic search click, AOV is 18% higher than the average multi-channel campaign.

  • When using email in isolation it drives a 56% lower AOV and takes over 250% longer to convert a user than average. When email is part of a multi-channel approach, but it is the last exposure it results in a 36% lower AOV and 100% more time to convert than average.

  • When email is the first exposure it results in a 39% lower AOV and takes a user almost 150% more time to convert than average. This can be explained by email campaigns being traditionally very promotional in nature, which results in a lower AOV. Email campaigns are also more heavily dominated by existing customers who may not be currently in the market for travel and/or are more discerning among promotional offers.

Last click is not the last say

Travellers research and make purchase decisions at different times and in different places, so measuring return solely on the last click gives an incomplete picture. Last click is widely accepted as an outdated way of measuring the effectiveness of a search campaign and can severely limit growth. The challenge, however, lies in ongoing channel optimisation and finding the right models for each campaign’s objectives.

Companies like Google now offer insight into the interaction between campaigns and channels. These reports provide valuable metrics such as assisted conversions (how and when different channels had an impact on conversion), time lag (understanding time to conversion), path length (the number of interactions before a conversion) and top conversion (the routes your customers take).

Dominic Gramatte, head of client services UK, IgnitionOne has the following advice:

  • Understand that it’s a cross-channel world: Online conversions overlap across multiple online channels. Being able to dedupe these conversions across these channels is essential to best optimise your marketing efforts. Advertisers that invest more in channels that are helping to drive, or assist in driving, more conversions will maximise their results.

  • Understand that customers convert at their own pace: Advertisers should be evaluating latency in consumer journey behaviour. By understanding how the combination of media influences latency, advertisers can make decisions on how to optimise messaging and timing to not only gets the user to convert, but to also get them to convert more quickly, therefore saving money.

  • Channel order matters: Not only do the channel types in your conversion path matter, but their order matters as well. When setting up an attribution model, understanding how channels interact and can assist with conversion is important. Focusing on path types that are driving users to convert (or not convert) will help improve cross-channel efficiencies.

Having a platform which manages all online media and that contains a built-in attribution system assists in making attribution actionable.

“Some tools offer single channel attribution as a part of the paid search solution or even as a stand-alone product that requires input of 3rd party data. The analysis is great, but the key to making attribution work is to actually action what you’ve learnt,” says Gramatte.

He says that one can deploy a single technology for inter and intra-channel attribution which automatically fuels bid rules and optimisation off of already attributed, deduped data.

Social media and mobile campaigns

Understanding the role of social and mobile activities in increasing engagement and in driving conversions is very valuable. As more advertisers explore the role that these channels play, and step away from last click attribution, the more likely it is that these channels will work as part of a digital strategy.

The challenge now is in figuring out how budget to allocate to mobile. According to specialists, conversion rates on tablets are pretty much the same as desktop but via smartphone this is much lower. However advertising on mobile will help inform a consumers’ decision even if they complete the transaction on the desktop. The challenge is to determine the how much of the desktop conversion can be credited to mobile advertising.

Marketers need to optimise their presence on social media and use mobile for campaigns while they look to improve attribution models. The bread and butter of desktop advertising is the same for mobile; search and display ads (including in-app ads) are good ways to reach your audience. The opportunities will evolve with location recognition, Google Wallet and increasingly reasonable mobile roaming tariffs that will allow travellers to use more applications while on the go.  

Being prepared

A traveller doesn’t consider which channel is being when they access information. They just expect it to work and expect a brand to offer a consistent experience. Travel marketers need to recognise this and make sure they have a coordinated message and experience across any chosen platform.

Also, when setting up an attribution model, it is important to understand how channels interact and can assist with conversion. As far as the conversion path is concerned, IgnitionOne’s report says the quickest conversions start with a display view and ends with organic search. This path converts in an average of 10 days, which is half of the total average, despite its lower AOV. The slowest path begins with email and ends with display, taking an average of 49 days and has a low AOV.Most of the slowest paths to conversion tend to involve email, regardless of whether it is at the beginning or end of the sequence.


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