Lead Attribution – how to qualify returning customers

Lead Attribution and Returning Customers

When do you let go of a customer gone quiet?

Or for how long do you consider a customer a customer after they no longer purchase or interact with your brand?

These are important questions when considering Lead Attribution.

Your lead nurturing process should naturally take missing interactions and unsubscribes into account, segmenting repeat customers from those less engaged.

But what do you do when an ‘old’, unsubscribed customer returns to your database?

Defining a lead attribution model that takes 3rd party customer reengagement into account is pivotal if you are to successfully assign credit to channels that could potentially deliver past customers.

Understanding where Repeat Customers can come from

Depending on your business, there may be long periods of time between when customers will need to purchase from you.

You may also be in a competitive market where consumers avoid repeat purchases from a single brand.

Both of these points mean that consumers, or even customers, will only consider you between long intervals. Inbetween this time, they may get bored or uninterested in your contact, eventually forgetting who you are.

When the time comes, they may need some gentle reminding, and this will often come from external sources.

Let’s look at the following customer journey for example:

  1. You run an online DIY tools and materials business.
  2. You receive the email, postal address and name of a prospect – Lloyd – through a form submission he makes on your home page.
  3. You nurture Lloyd over the course of a month until he eventually makes a purchase from you online.
  4. Despite subsequent contact from you, Lloyd unsubscribes from your emails and makes no further purchases.
  5. 8 months later, Lloyd decides to extend his patio. Researching DIY companies on a 3rd party website, he comes across your brand, remembers you and signs up to your mailing list.
  6. You receive his full details from said channel – the same details as those you received in the past.
  7. Having received a welcome email sent on your behalf, Lloyd clicks through to your site and makes a £300 purchase.

Lloyd’s journey raises a number of important Lead Attribution questions.

Namely, who gets the credit?

Do you attribute Lloyd’s second purchase to the third party or still classify him as a customer? Is the lead you received a duplicate or does the 3rd party referral take the credit?

An effective way to begin answering this question is by creating a customer evaluation process.

Ways in which to define New and Repeat Customers – Your customer evaluation strategy

Although automation tools can make intricate models simple, Lead Attribution Customer Evaluation processes needn’t be complex.

Their purpose is to help you evaluate your customers so that you can easily segment those that become (or are likely to become) repeat customers, from those that probably won’t.

This will in turn help you assign credit to various channels if you receive duplicate leads, referrals or clicks.

Let’s use this customer evaluation table as an example:

customer evaluation process

This shows three main classification criteria for evaluating the ‘score’ of your customers.

The first criteria is ‘Initial Purchase’ where the customer score is affected by how much they spent, potential feedback ratings, origin etc

There are then similar criteria for ‘Repeat Purchases’, including time elapsed since initial conversion and whether they have signed up to loyalty account.

Lastly are their ‘Nurturing Interactions’, which marks their brand engagement. The more engaged with you, the more likely they will become a loyal customer for a longer time.

You can use all of these parameters to measure the relevance, engagement and loyalty of your customers.

This in turn will help you develop your Lead Attribution model to assign credit effectively to your 3rd party channels – maximising your investment from marketing and lead generation campaigns.

Here we can see the concept in action. This is Lloyd’s evaluation following his first purchase. Each criteria is marked out of ten.

customer evaluation in action

Lloyd made a small initial purchase with no prior interactions or subsequent feedback responses. He originated from an Adword campaign which you decide to score 7/10 for future engagement value. There were no repeat purchases or further engagement.

Given this, he scores very low as a potential repeat customer, meaning that you would not classify him as a customer beyond a short time following his purchase.

This demonstrates that some degree of credit for the return purchase would go to the 3rd party referral, given that he is no longer classified as a customer.

This is an effective and clear way of assigning credit for duplicate leads and repeat customers when supplied by 3rd parties or external channels.

Make sure that you continue to develop your Lead Attribution model to incorporate 3rd party referrals and external data. Only then will you begin to maximise you marketing ROI to its fullest potential.