May 21, 2018

Facebook Journeys: What Makes Customer Journey Data Valuable?

Facebook introduced Facebook Journeys, a new enhancement to their Analytics, which will reportedly give businesses an omni-channel view of the customer journey from introduction to purchase' but does it?

Facebook Journeys: What Makes Customer Journey Data Valuable?

At the recent 2018 F8 Developers Conference, Facebook introduced Facebook Journeys, a new enhancement to their Analytics, which will reportedly give businesses an omni-channel view of the customer journey from introduction to purchase… but does it?

In their session, Facebook gave an example of a consumer (one of the speakers) who shared her journey towards buying a pair of boots. She explained how she jumped around before finally making that purchase decision. She began by explaining how she was a fan of a retail store and that, at some point, liked their Facebook page. She was served up an ad for boots that attracted her and went to their website (on her mobile device) to read reviews. While viewing the website on her smartphone she was prompted to install their app (which she did) and then proceeded to browse their site via the app. After some debate she finally decided to buy the boots, but the mobile site didn’t support mobile payments and she didn’t want to input her credit card information at that moment. So, she made a mental note to purchase them later. After a few days, she went to their website via her desktop computer and purchased the boots.

The message Facebook was attempting to convey with this story is that most analytics focus solely on desktop interactions and the corresponding conversion, ignoring all previous interactions. While this is true, it’s not really the omni-channel marketing they claim. Why? Because true omni-channel marketing attribution would extend far beyond the sources that Facebook Journeys tracks. Facebook Journeys only includes website visitors (if a business has the Facebook pixel installed properly), app installs, Facebook post, ad engagement and subsequent conversions. Here’s what report looks like:

Facebook claims that, with this data, a business can “connect the dots” between the first session and all subsequent sessions leading to the purchase, thus eliminating the “last-click” attribution most businesses (and analytics tools) use.

But how valuable is this information?

As illustrated on an individual level it might be relevant in some ways… but not in many; here’s why.

Facebook Journeys is limited to interactions that happen on your website and app along with Facebook activity. The consumer may have visited 12 other retailer websites selling the same boots before returning to the initial retailer… but you wouldn’t know that. And that type of activity is practically a given when it comes to automotive shoppers.

In addition, Facebook will not show you the customer journey on an individual basis, but only in an anonymized and – most importantly – aggregated form. So, while you could get an overall idea of a SET of customers over a given time, you can’t pinpoint an individual customer’s journey.  This only allows you to identify and adjust marketing strategies based on friction points between devices… which leads me to the most important flaw in this report:

Facebook Journeys does not show you an omni-channel journey, but rather a cross-device attribution journey.

True marketing decisions should be made on a more individual level as each consumer is different – especially car shoppers. Most retailers (such as the boot retailer) have just a couple of variables: can the target demographic afford it? And, what payment methods should be provided for the customer?

When it comes to car dealers, however, there are many other variables which influence shoppers, including, but not limited to, new or used (doubt the boot retailer is selling used boots), mileage, financing, negotiation, and more. Facebook Journeys can only show friction points within a transactional journey, not the entirety of that journey. And that’s important.

The one quote from the F8 session which I find most impactful and relevant is as follows:

“…smart, informed decision-making is what makes great product marketing. You really want to be able to see the whole customer experience and understand how customers are actually making their way through all of your experiences.”

Sadly, you can’t do that with Facebook Journeys.