The Post-Purchase Survey: A Vital Marketing Attribution Tool

by Matt Bahr

Before we jump in, a post-purchase survey is simply one or more questions shown to a customer immediately after they’ve bought a product on your site. It turns out that this tiny window of time is a giant window of opportunity.

In running an ecommerce business, you’re never going to capture someone’s attention as much as you do when they’ve just completed their purchase. Consider a first-time customer experience:

They’ve heard about you or encountered one of your ads, they’ve found your store, they’ve browsed your catalog, they’ve found a product that brings them joy, and they’ve decided to pay you for it. They’re excited, and their attention is primed.

Really primed, in fact: for the average Fairing client, at least 60% of customers respond to post-purchase surveys.

Although you can ask customers anything at this point, let’s focus on the power of asking them only one question post-purchase: “How did you hear about us?”

This is a simple question, but since Fairing’s post-purchase surveys have such high response rates, their answers fill in some of the 30% gap in attribution that marketers lack, and they show nuance where there were previously oversimplifications in attribution data.

In short, if you don’t know where your customers come from, ask them.

Here’s more on why that matters.

Online tracking is nose-diving. Put #PeopleOverPixels.

The cookie-and-pixel world of digital advertising is dying.

Ad blocking use has skyrocketed to the point that almost half of internetfolk use them, and then there’s “Apple’s Thanos moment” of killing IDFAs (IDs for Advertisers, which were “the only means for advertisers to precisely target and track users within apps on iOS devices”).

These trends reflect how consumers’ online behavior has changed and how companies are treating people online. Although this is all seemingly terrible news from a digital marketing and advertising standpoint, it isn’t the end of the world.

Your ecommerce store can live on. It can thrive. It has the same potential as before.

It just means that instead of relying on cookies and tracking pixels to tell you where your marketing is working, you need to not only watch…but listen.

Transparency matters, and consumers do not want to be tracked (we don’t either). Soon, you will not have the same ability to just see where customers are coming from without their consent, and your attribution data will suffer for it. We propose, instead, that you get the information direct-from-consumer (DFC).

Enter the post-purchase survey. From listening, you just might find that some of your attribution data has been misleading, or wrong from the beginning.

The myth of Google last-click attribution, and the problem of Google overpaying itself

Here’s part of life as we know it: you hear about a thing, and you Google the thing (you probably don’t Bing the thing). This poses a big problem for marketers.

If someone sees your ad or hears about your company and they Google you to find your site, ol’ Google, in Analytics, is going to give itself (not your ad, word-of-mouth, or whatever else drove sales) the attribution pat on the back for getting that person there.

This is the devil of Last Touch Attribution: a business may have no idea that an ad or a marketing channel is working well, because that marketing channel didn’t directly bring every customer onto the site. As a result, brand teams don’t get the clarity they need to reinvest in what’s working to maximize returns. They’re left with unknowns and ultimately feed their budget into Facebook and Instagram. Sound familiar?

RIP ROI and accurate attribution data.

What if, all along, you had been asking customers, “How did you hear about us?” in a post-purchase survey?

“Wait, what? You heard about us on TikTok? We had no idea that was working.” We hear it all the time.

TikTok tests, other marketing tests, and the black hole of Facebook

Google and your direct traffic sources have claimed plenty of attribution responsibility for TikTok.

If you are running tests and pushing marketing dollars into TikTok and only seeing a mediocre ROI, you’re not alone. Perhaps you’ve already run tests and thought that TikTok failed as a marketing channel.

In reality, TikTok continues to trend up for brands across the board, and it probably can serve as a viable marketing channel for your store. Just because your initial campaigns or influencer targeting seem to fail does not mean that they actually failed.

The problem, again, is incomplete data.

Incomplete or flawed data not only loses you and other brands money every time you run a test, but it prevents you from properly capitalizing on trends, which can convince you not to adopt what may be a cheaper marketing channel—like TikTok. The marketers who take advantage of new channels early often get rewarded with lower CPMs.

As a result, you have a harder time escaping Facebook and Instagram and leaving some of the way-too-expensive ads behind you, even though you’re competing against companies like Disney, which continues to dump a small nation’s GDP into Facebook Ads. Like the majority of DTC brands today, you still might end up getting more than half of your business from Facebook and Instagram, even though Disney and other corporate behemoths are crushing you in the process.

But without 30% of your marketing attribution data, you shouldn’t be trying to squeeze another 1% of revenue out of Facebook. Why would you try to optimize your diet by 1% if you didn’t know what you were eating 30% of the time?

Your customers will show you the way.

Ask them in a post-purchase survey.

If you want to learn where your customers are coming from, why your ROIs on TikTok or YouTube are better than they appear, and how to stop forking over wads of money to Facebook, start talking to your customers with a post-purchase survey.

You’ll develop more successful strategies to run tests, you’ll diversify your marketing channels, and you’ll learn much more about your marketing attribution.

A post-purchase survey takes five minutes to install and set up for your Shopify store.


 Ready to better know your customers?

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