Every marketer craves to convert web visitors into leads. A B2B study from this year shows that the vast majority of website visitors don’t buy. The good news is that they’re potential customers. We see their visit logs, search patterns and interests based on their cookie ids or mobile identifier for advertisers (IDFA) or equivalent. Marketers finally know a little bit about them. Next, the ad content must be optimized to enterprise this opportunity. This is where understanding the common ad visitor paths comes in handy.

Ever-Growing e-Commerce Marketplaces

The market size of all the e-commerce stores has increased dramatically since the pandemic started. It is predicted that Amazon sales will reach $367.19 billion, which is the equivalent of 40.4% of total U.S. e-commerce sales, in 2021. This trend is also expected in other e-commerce giants such as eBay, Alibaba and Wayfair, among others. The next wave of e-commerce power players like Walmart, Costco and others are competing to capture market share by leveraging  e-commerce channel ads with proven ad revenues.

The Four Stages Of Marketplace Visitors’ Lifecycle 

A breakdown of customer paths includes four major stages:

  1. Discovery
  2. Exploration
  3. Purchase
  4. Engagement

In the discovery stage, customers visit a website after interacting with a brand through ads or other marketing endpoints. It is at this point that a marketer needs to create a sense of interest and grab the attention of the would-be shopper.

Customers move to the next stage where they explore the products. They visit a website or move around inside the website and conduct research on the product. The customers make a decision to purchase. After closing the first deal, marketers engage the customer through repeat conversation to build a relationship that leads to loyalty or engagement.

The above is an ideal situation. However, the customer journey may involve different paths that marketers need to understand. Categorizing billions of visitors is intensive. After categorizing the visits, marketers can target to migrate visitors into desired paths for conversions.

Visitors come from various devices. They could also purchase from a different device after their initial research. Meanwhile, understanding the trends of website visits by a device is vital in the visualization of the ads path. Research shows that conversion from desktop has decreased from Q2 of 2019 in both the United States and the UK. For instance, in Q3 2020, conversion rates through mobile and desktop in the U.S. were estimated to be 54% and 42%, respectively. Marketers need to leverage ads on smartphones by optimizing websites for mobile.

Irrespective of where visitors come from, there are instances when they make a purchase. In others, they bounce off in the middle of the sales funnel. It is therefore important to understand the potential touchpoint paths and categorize the billions of visitor search paths.

So, before even plotting marketing strategies to convert visitors into customers, let’s understand visitors’ 14 top touchpoint paths into your marketplace.

Ad Touchpoint Paths for e-commerce

Path#  Impression   Click   Sale   Outcome

  1. 1      0     0    Not desired.
  2. 1      1     0    CPC is charged.
  3. 1      1     1     Conversion happened.
  4. 1      1     n    Greater conversions.
  5. 1      n     0    Higher CPC is charged. Never desired.
  6. 1      n     1     Conversion happened. Low ROI.
  7. 1      n     n    Great conversions. Always desired.
  8. n     0     0    Never desired.
  9. n     1      0    CPC is charged.
  10. n     1      1     Conversion happened. Really low ROI.
  11. n     1      n    Repeat sales. Engagement.
  12. n     n      0   High CPC is charged. Never desired.
  13. n     n      1    Conversion happened. Really low ROI.
  14. n     n      n   Conversion happened. Really high ROI.

Here are some more details about the above paths.

  1. 100: The visitor sees an advertisement once and ignores it. This happens when there is no call to action. Remember, there isn’t anything wrong with people leaving your page sometimes.
  2. 110: The visitor sees an ad, clicks but doesn’t buy. Maybe you are showing irrelevant ads.
  3. 111: The visitor clicks and purchases as well. This is fantastic.
  4. 11n: The visitor sees the ad, clicks once and purchases multiple times. This shows you’ve got some great post-purchase follow-up.
  5. 1n0: The visitor clicks multiple times but doesn’t buy. This means the visitor is looking for something you are not serving well.
  6. 1n1: The visitor clicks multiple times the same ad and buys once. This is fantastic as well.
  7.  1nn: The visitor clicks multiple times the same ad and buys multiple times. This is fantastic. CPC is of high ROI.
  8. n00: Multiple views, but the visitor does not click and makes no purchases. You need to identify the cause of friction in his or her purchase journey.
  9. n10: This is multiple views from a potential customer, one click and no purchases. You need to figure out the cause of this problem.
  10. n11: Multiple visits, clicks once and also purchases once. Requires additional work in your post-purchase follow-up.
  11. n1n: Multiple visits, clicks once and makes multiple purchases. This is indicative of no new conversions.
  12. nn0: Multiple visits, multiple clicks with no purchases. This is indicative of the need to work on your call to action.
  13. nn1: It is not that fantastic. Your expenses might be higher in this path.
  14. nnn: The visitor sees the same ad multiple times, clicks multiple times and buys many times.

In sum, you can categorize the visit paths into the baseline 14 scenarios. Once visitors are segmented respective to their paths traversed in the marketplace, they could be targeted to move to a path for better conversions.

This would apply to both display or banner ads and search/product ads.

The above paths could be further segmented into advertiser, product category, creatives, page, page location or other dimensions. Exact touchpoint timelines could be plotted by measuring each of the categorical performances. These scenarios could be further extended to cross-platform and cross-channel movements.

Once you understand these common paths of an e-commerce user’s touchpoints, you can take the necessary steps to improve your marketing strategies and boost your online sales.

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