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The roles of multiple channels in predicting website visits and purchases: Engagers versus closers

Marcel Goić, Kinshuk Jerath and Kirthi Kalyanam

International Journal of Research in Marketing, 2022, vol. 39, issue 3, 656-677

Abstract: In today’s online environment, consumers and sellers interact through multiple channels such as email, search engines, banner ads, affiliate websites and comparison-shopping websites. In this paper, we investigate whether knowing the history of channels the consumer has used until a point of time is predictive of their future visit patterns and purchase conversions. We propose a model in which future visits and conversions are stochastically dependent on the channels a consumer used on their path up to a point. Salient features of our model are: (1) visits by consumers are allowed to be clustered, which enables separation of their visits into intra- and inter-session components, (2) interaction effects between channels where prior visits and conversions from channels impact future inter-session visits, intra-session visits and conversions through a latent variable reflecting the cumulative weighted inventory of prior visits, (3) each channel attracts inter-session and intra-session visits differently, (4) each channel has different association with conversion conditional on a customer’s arrival to the website through that channel, (5) each channel engages customers differently (i.e., keeps the customer alive for a next session or for a next visit within a session), (6) the channel from which there was an arrival in the previous session can have an enhanced ability to generate an arrival for the same channel in the current session (channel persistence), and (7) parsimonious specification for high dimensionality in a low-velocity, sparse-data environment. We estimate the model on easy-to-collect first-party data obtained from an online retailer selling a durable good and find that information on the identities of channels and incorporation of inter- and intra-session visits have significant predictive power for future visitation and conversion behavior. We find that some channels act as “closers” and others as “engagers”—consumers arriving through the former are more likely to make a purchase, while consumers arriving through the latter, even if they do not make a purchase, are more likely to visit again in the future or extend the current session. We also find that some channels engage customers more than others, and that there are interaction effects between the channels visited. Our estimates show that the effect of prior inventory of visits is different from the immediate prior visit, and that visit and purchase probabilities can increase or decrease based on the history of channels used. We discuss several managerial implications of the model including using the predictions of the model to aid in selecting customers for marketing actions and using the model to evaluate a policy change regarding the obscuring of channel information.

Keywords: Customer journey; Path to purchase; Multichannel marketing; Probability models (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ijresmar.2021.12.004

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ijrema:v:39:y:2022:i:3:p:656-677