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Pool Supply World adapts its attribution model for mobile

August 14, 2014

0813Pool185PHILADELPHIA – Pool Supply World has no expectations that it will generate a significant amount of mobile commerce anytime soon, but it has made some efforts to identify its mobile visitors and correlate them with their desktop visits.

The Scottsdale, AZ-based purveyor of swimming-pool supplies had been an online-only retailer until last October, when it was acquired by Leslie’s Swimming Pool Supplies. Now its business is combined with a retailer operating 850 brick-and-mortar stores in 30 states.

“We have been thinking about multichannel a lot more since we were acquired by Leslie’s,” said Roy Steves, chief marketing officer, Pool Supply World. “Now we have 850 brick-and-mortar stores in 30 states in the mix.

“At Pool Supply World, we still have a high percentage of desktop users, and mobile still seems to be used in the search phase.”

Mr. Steves spoke Wednesday in a presentation called “The Next Phase of Attribution: Empowering Marketers to See What Is Successful Beyond Simple Last Click” at eTail East 2014 in Philadelphia.

Attribution for mobile
Pool Supply World only counts about 4 percent of its site visits from mobile phones and 18 percent from iPads. However, Mr. Steves said he makes an effort to attribute to some degree the level of sales volume that mobile devices generate.

“For us, mobile is tricky because you don’t have the advantage of using the IP address, but we do a lot to make sure the email is touching your phone at some point,” he said.

“Between SMS and email, we try to get you to identify yourself, then I can start to associate those visits. Anytime you have those two things separated, I try to put them together as best I can and then try to extrapolate from that.”


Roy Steves

He also said he can sometimes connect mobile devices and desktop computers that use the same IP address, and then assign a probability that they are the same person. That probability — say 80 percent — can then become a co-efficient multiplier when calculating attributions for commerce from search engines and other sources.

The focus of Mr. Steves’ talk was on ways marketers can measure attribution other than using the simple “last click” method in which marketers trace the source of a transaction to the site that actually drive the consumer to make a specific online purchase. That method excludes all the other sites that may have contributed to the sale, such as informational searches on mobile devices.

While Pool Supply World developed its own analytics model to trace back attribution to multiple sources, Mr. Steves said Google Analytics can also provide good data to assist in attribution analysis.

One way to calculate attribution is to examine all of the shopping sessions that occur, including those that don’t convert to a sale, and create a multiplier that can be used to assign relative weights to various methods of engagement, he said.

That can result in some negative correlations for certain sources of traffic to the site, which must be put in the perspective of the business processes. Pool Supply World, for example, found negative correlations for live chat sessions, as those do not end up driving commerce.

Asked by an audience member about making attributes from visits across multiple devices, Mr. Steves suggested taking it one step at a time.

“Don’t worry about multi-device until you have figured out multiple session attribution,” he said “Once you figure that out, then you can figure out multi-device.”

Final Take

Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

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