June 13, 2011

Crutchfiled: An Attribution Nightmare

Attribution experts express confidence in their ability to parse an order across the activities that caused the order.

Oh boy.

Let me explain an attribution nightmare, courtesy of Crutchfield.

I was about to purchase a new television, a 46 inch model.  I decided to purchase the television from Crutchfield, because I knew I would get free shipping.

I made this decision on or around May 1.

In the first week of May, I received a small page count catalog from Crutchfield.  I looked through the catalog.  My television was not, to my knowledge, featured in the catalog.

In the second week of May, I researched the television I wanted to purchase.  I used Google.  I visited Amazon.  I visited J&R Music World.  I visited Best Buy.  I found the television I wanted to purchase.  I compared prices across brands.  I then visited Crutchfield.  The television I wanted was available.  I placed the item in my shopping cart.

In the third week of May, Crutchfield sent me an e-mail marketing message ... and surprise surprise, the television I wanted was featured in the e-mail marketing message.  Who knew?!  It's almost like Crutchfield scanned my cart and then advertised the item to me.

Late in the third week of May, Crutchfield lowered the price of the television.  Good for me!

Early in the fourth week of May, while reviewing my shopping cart, Crutchfield made me an offer.  They offered to give me a soundbar/subwoofer system, valued at over $300, for free, if I purchased my television.  Wow.  I added the soundbar/subwoofer to my shopping cart.

Midway through the fourth week of May, Crutchfield sent me an abandoned cart e-mail message, reminding me of the items I wanted to purchase.

In the first week of June, I added a mounting bracket to my cart, and I added a separate item not related to the television purchase to my cart.  I placed my order, saving about $50 on the television, obtaining a soundbar/subwoofer valued at over $300 for free, and getting free shipping as per standard marketing practices at Crutchfield.

Ok, attribution experts.  Tell me what caused this purchase?
  • What impact did the mailed catalog have, given I already decided to buy the television prior to receiving the catalog, but given that the catalog was mailed a few weeks prior to buying the television (hint --- this is the crux of my stance on the "organic percentage").
  • What impact did the first e-mail marketing message have, given that it featured the television I already placed in my shopping cart?
  • What impact did the price change on the television have on my purchase?
  • What impact did the offer of a free soundbar/subwoofer have on my purchase?
  • What impact did the abandoned cart e-mail message have on my purchase?
  • What impact did free shipping as a standard offer have on my purchase?
  • What impact did Google have on my research?
  • What impact did the fact that I already decided to buy this item before the marketing began have on my purchase?
  • How would you, the marketing/attribution expert, parse this information without knowledge of the fact that I made up my mind on the purchase before any of the marketing activities were initiated?
Discuss.  Remember, I decided to buy a television from Crutchfield before any of the marketing activities mentioned here were initiated.