Most analytics programs currently offer what is referred to as the "last-touch" method to tracking - meaning that whichever marketing channel "tags" the visitor last before he or she makes a purchase is ultimately going to get full credit for that sale. It has been my experience with nearly every new client that their website analytics is faulty, or at least in some way miscuing it's numbers.
Did you know that most analytics programs currently offer what is referred to as the "last-touch" method to tracking - meaning that whichever marketing channel "tags" the visitor last before he or she makes a purchase is ultimately going to get full credit for that sale? That's a problem, and a huge one at that.
It has been my experience with nearly every new client that the website analytics they've come to know and love - the one tool they count on most to help make tough marketing decisions - is probably faulty, or at least in some way miscuing it's numbers. As you can imagine, this can be a very scary experience.
For example, let's say that a search user searches Google for the term "mp3 players", and stumbles across your organic listing. The user clicks through, reviews your products and pricing, and moves on to another store. A week goes by and the user has completed their research. They decide to purchase an 8GB Apple iPod Touch from your store. To find your store and buy their iPod, the user searches Yahoo! for your company's name. The user sees your paid ad, clicks through, and buys an iPod.
Under this scenario, any analytics program using the "last-touch" method for tracking conversions has just awarded 100% of the sale to your Yahoo! PPC campaign, while it's quite obvious that your Google SEO campaign is well deserving of some, if not all, credit. I'd imagine this isn't a big deal if this were happening once or twice a month. However, imagine a scenario where it happens with 20%-30% of your monthly orders and across multiple marketing channels.
Imagine if your Yahoo! PPC were stealing ROI from Google SEO. Or, Google SEO from MSN PPC. Or, Yahoo! SEO from email marketing mailings. As a business owner or marketer, you wouldn't truly know which channels were your most profitable and which weren't. I think every business owner would agree that this would be a disaster.
As a person who is responsible for the well-being of several online marketing campaigns, I can't afford to be making decisions (i.e. increasing or decreasing PPC bids, adjusting email marketing offers, or tweaking highly ranked pages on a website) based on faulty data. And, neither can you. If you're currently using or researching analytics programs, I'd encourage you inquire about the company's cookie settings, specifically if they employ the "last-touch" method of tracking.