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Q&A: Center Parcs’ digital click attribution strategy

Search Ignite and Golley Slater have today released a case study to show how they have used click attribution to increase online bookings for Center Parcs. 

Center Parcs has previously used the last click attribution model, but has been using cross-channel measurement and attribution in its digital campaigns for the last six months.

I’ve been speaking to Mark Fagan, Digital Media Director at Golley Slater, as well as Search Ignite’s MD James Yancey and Managing Consultant Andy Betts about the case study…

How does click attribution work? 

James Yancey (Search Ignite): The technology allows us to see which channels are contributing to conversions, and allows use to see the value of each digital channel, whether this is email, display advertising, affiliate marketing, search or SEO. 

 This is the only search management platform that can look at cross-channel data in this way. We can track data from all digital media channels, and then weigh all the different channels according to their effectiveness 

So for example, we can give 50% credit to a display ad view, and then give more credit to a display ad or PPC ad which has actually been clicked on, so that the various channels each get some credit for the sale. 

The key here is the ability not only to collect the data, but to uses and visualize it within a single platform so that we can have discussions around it, and that the data can be used to inform search strategies. 

What results have you seen so far? 

Mark Fagan (Golley Slater): We’ve been working with Center Parcs for four years, initially on a combined search strategy, though we’ve since done some web development and other work with them.

We have used a combination of DFA (Dart for Advertisers) and Omniture to measure campaigns, and we knew the consumer path taken before conversions but couldn’t prove it in a tangible way to show clients. 

So we decided to take a technology audit, and chose SearchIgnite. Center Parcs was well suited for this sine they have an affluent audience, which tends to do a lot of research before purchase. 

We looked to see the impact of more expensive generic keywords of the final conversion. It was very much a collaborative approach based around understanding the touch points. We were able to analyse 60 days’ worth of data and see how different channels performed. 

We have used this approach for the last six months, and it has so far exceeded expectations, with ROI up 50% against the same period last year. At the moment, over 70% of bookings are made online, whereas four years ago it was less than 20%. 

Did the data produce any unexpected insights? 

Mark: We found that generic keywords had much more value than was previously attributed to them, while display media was more effective then we had thought. 

How have you used these insights to improve campaigns? 

Mark: We have allocated more budget to certain types of campaign than we would have done normally, so we are using more generic keywords, and doing so more effectively thanks to a greater understanding of their effects. 

Going forwards, we’ll be looking at the interaction between email, display media and search, and optimising them all from the one pot, looking at the online budget as a whole. 

James: The key benefit of cross-channel attribution is the ability to look at one single budget across digital advertising and being able to use the budget where it is most effective. 

Having data is good, but you have to be able to act upon it, and so it helps to have a client that can take an open minded approach and use the insight from the data to change marketing strategies. 

Are there issues here with internal politics and different stakeholders?

James: Yes, there can be this politics around internal budgets, and to make cross-channel attribution work; you need to have the internal structure to be able to use the data to change the business. 

Mark: In our case, Center Parcs was a good fit to try this out, since they were open minded, and it was a learning curve for us and the client. 

A collaborative approach is vital, and Center Parcs’ Marketing Director was able to make decisions quickly based on the data and our discussions around it. 

James: An interesting point here is that, while more than 90% of the clients we talk to are well aware of the limitations of last-click attribution, only 30% are using the data we provide to move away from the model. 

That tells a story in itself; they know they are using an antiquated model, but are held back by the process of educating other people within the organisation and changing the approach.

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