A Look At Cross-Domain Search & Conversion

If you are running multiple online marketing programs across multiple websites/domains, then you might have asked yourself the following questions. Are there any interactions between my websites? Are my customers likely to convert across multiple domains? Would those insights potentially alter my customers’ LTV (life-time value) and my goals, as a result? Cross-Domain Clicks & […]

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If you are running multiple online marketing programs across multiple websites/domains, then you might have asked yourself the following questions. Are there any interactions between my websites? Are my customers likely to convert across multiple domains? Would those insights potentially alter my customers’ LTV (life-time value) and my goals, as a result?

Cross-Domain Clicks & Revenue Attribution

This is the key — you want to be able to allocate the end-revenue numbers back to every single touch-point across multiple websites, so you can adjust your marketing mix accordingly.

For instance, say you have multiple AdWords and Bing Ads accounts for your websites A, B and C. Those might offer the exact same products across multiple domains, or similar products with unique quality, positioning and pricing.

In both cases, we’re interested in diving into cross-product and cross-domain selling patterns. More specifically, online marketers should definitely approach their businesses as a whole, and make sure the tracking solution they are using allow them to take into consideration consumer behavior across multiple products and domains.

Sites A B C

Sites A B C Table

Cross-Domain Insights In AdWords

Unfortunately, AdWords does not allow users to look into cross-account consumer behavior. Only cross-campaign/ad group/keyword data are available, and not across multiple AdWords accounts.

However, if you have just one AdWords account where you manage multiple domains (which is unlikely but still possible) then you should be able to analyze cross-domain transition paths.

Tracking Challenges

Similar to the challenges of cross-device tracking, it can be tricky to track cross-domain conversions. Not for the same reasons, though.

On one hand, measuring conversions across multiple devices (desktops, tablets, mobiles) is difficult when using cookie-based tracking solutions because of the unique cookies set on each individual device/browser.

On the other hand, measuring conversions across multiple sites (sites A, B, C, for instance) is complex because of the unique cookies set for each site, even though Web users are using the same browser.

Long story short, the data get compartmentalized by site and by device; and, unless you’re using advanced tracking solutions, you might not be able to get the full picture.

Connecting The Dots

There is Google Analytics. It’s free, simple to use, and fairly reliable. You can get insights into cross-channel transition paths, and look into cross-domain conversions only if you have thoughtfully tagged your marketing campaigns using one of the dimensions available in Google Analytics.

However, just like in AdWords, you won’t be able to actually allocate the revenue back to each touch-point since this feature is not fully integrated in Google Analytics. Nor will you be able to manually or automatically adjust the bids based on those multiple touch-points.

In short, if you are ok manually analyzing the data, Google Analytics might be good enough. Otherwise, you are going to need a more sophisticated solution in order to automate the revenue-allocation process and then adjust the bids accordingly.

In a nutshell, a successful multi-domain strategy relies on a robust tracking solution. Marketers need to be able to put together multiple data-sets by domain so they can actually make business decisions from a holistic standpoint. The technology is already out there, and becomes even more relevant when measuring online marketing returns for multiple domains across all major online advertising networks.


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About the author

Ben Vigneron
Contributor
Ben Vigneron is a seasoned marketing analyst and product analytics leader with a startup culture. Ben was listed as one of the best eCommerce PPC Experts by PPC Hero in September 2014, and spoke multiple times at the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in Europe and the USA. With a vision to change the way marketers think and operate, Ben and his team work with leaders and organizations to bring data to the center stage, and help make more informed decisions. After more technical training at Adobe, and years of experience with advertisers in the Bay Area at Blackbird PPC, Ben has uncovered remarkable patterns about the incremental effectiveness of paid advertising through search, programmatic, and social initiatives.

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