Your customers’ conversations span multiple networks; why don’t your analytics?

In case you missed it, this week I’ve had the opportunity to post on  Jack Myers’ MediaBizBlog Network which explains why, in order to understand the recent sensational spike in holiday shoppers’ use of mobile devices, it’s essential to understand consumers’ social media activity.

Focusing on the mobile device is only half the story. You’ll get truly valuable insights to help fine-tune marketing plans by also looking at how consumers are acting on that device.

It’s a quick and useful read — I recommend you check it out — but I wanted to highlight one of the points I raised there: Not only does social activity drive mobile commerce, but specifically social conversations that span multiple social networks and channels.

Understanding how word spreads across these networks is essential, and it’s also tricky. Neither traditional site analytics nor any individual social network’s tracking is accurate; you need closed-loop social attribution.

Referrer madness

You’re likely somewhat familiar with referrers. As a simple example, imagine I’m browsing the page, I see a neat writeup about one of your products, and I click a link from that article back to your site. Once I get there, I view a page, maybe a few, and then make a purchase.

Your site analytics tool captured that I was referred by, and attributed my visit, pageviews, and conversions to that source. That’s valuable knowledge for you to have, and it’s the backbone of site analytics. So far, so good.

But, now, suppose that instead of learning about your site from an article on, I learned about it from one of my friends while browsing Twitter on my phone? Plenty of research (and common sense) suggests these Tweets are far more persuasive than site links, let alone ads. But if you try to find these Tweets in your site analytics, you’ll come up short.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see traffic referred by Twitter’s domain — and even this isn’t guaranteed.¹ And you definitely won’t see which specific Tweet drove the visit.

Hairball of Confusion

If you can’t track which specific Tweet drove a visit, pageview, or purchase, then you’re in the dark. Good luck sorting out whether my valuable visit came from my friend’s Tweet or your own social media marketing team’s activity on Facebook.

But what if you try to work around this using Twitter’s analytics platform, and their recently announced conversion attribution tool? No dice: this only works with promoted Tweets.

And even if my friend’s Tweet were promoted, so that Twitter did track conversions from the promoted Tweet, you’d still be missing a major piece of the story: why did my friend Tweet? If word of mouth is so effective, you’ll want to know what motivates these valuable conversations. And referrer analysis or any individual network’s conversion tracking are completely ineffective here.

The Pin is mightier than the sword

SPOILER ALERT: Here’s what actually happened. Your social media team made a Pin about one of your cool items. My friend, browsing Pinterest, liked what she saw and clicked through to your site. Once there, she made a purchase and Tweeted about it — perhaps by clicking a social sharing button on your site, or by using her smartphone’s share-to-Twitter feature. I saw the Tweet, clicked back to your site, and made a purchase.

Brilliant! This is why you pay a marketing team to hang out on Pinterest all day… and it worked!

But that conversation spanned your Pin, my friend, Twitter, and my iPhone. And using referrer-based attribution and individual networks’ analytics tools to connect the dots between posts on multiple social networks and visits from different referrers isn’t just difficult, it’s impossible.

This is a big problem. If a growing amount of online shopping happens on mobile (it does), and mobile activity is driven by social (it is), and conversations span multiple social networks (they do), then gaining visibility into how social drives ROI is critical, and relying on old methods just won’t cut it.

Help is on the way

There is good news: it is possible to connect the dots. awe.some does this by creating a closed attribution loop, capturing details about every social post made by you and your site visitors, and tracking multiple generations of sharing, even when they span multiple social networks.

As mobile drives more and more of your traffic (and conversions), it becomes critically important to understand how to engage customers in mobile.  The data shows that social is one of the most effective and efficient ways to reach and engage mobile users.  Simply put, being more successful in mobile than your competition requires that you accurately understand the viral pathways and ROI of your social media marketing. Let’s get in touch.

Why? Hit the Live Chat link at the bottom of this post. We can geek out about user-agents, JavaScript redirectors vs. 301 redirectors, and http vs. https. We do this all day; it’s fun, we swear.