What to Expect When Switching to Northbeam

Lior Torenberg
March 18, 2024

You’ve done your research, compared your options, and made the decision to switch to Northbeam — congratulations! In our reasonably biased opinion, you’re on the right path. 

But, onboarding onto a new platform can take a minute. Let’s talk through what you can expect when switching to Northbeam — there may be some surprises, but only the good kind. 

Why do my metrics look different?

Northbeam’s data is different, and there are a lot of great reasons for that: we wrote a whole blog post about it

The TL;DR is this: Northbeam uses its own proprietary machine learning models to generate first-party attribution data that is more accurate than traditional platform or third party data. 

If you’re used to getting data directly from platforms, third party pixels, UTM tracking, or even other marketing intelligence platforms that have their own algorithms, your data will look a little different when you migrate to Northbeam. 

But we’re scrupulous about our data and the AI behind it — if you’re curious, you can read more about how our AI works.

Another major benefit of switching to Northbeam: because we don’t rely on third party pixels, your data is future-proofed. Algorithm or operating system updates such as the changes we saw Apple make to iOS within the last few years won’t affect the accuracy of our data, and neither will the deprecation of cookies

Our model gets better over time as it learns your various channels and data points, so you can also expect accuracy and insight improvements as the tool learns you (and you learn the tool). 

Ad Performance

Your ad performance may look different in Northbeam — in fact, it probably should. Ad performance differences are expected as you move to a more accurate platform. These differences come from Northbeam’s attribution model, attribution window, and how we conceptualize the customer journey. 

Northbeam’s attribution model and attribution window are different from legacy models that platforms like Meta, Google, Pinterest, and others use. This creates a difference in how revenue is allocated to different channels, and will result in your performance looking different across campaigns. 

Whereas individual platforms lean towards taking credit for conversions, Northbeam takes into account the entire customer journey to look at every touch that resulted in a conversion, not just the last or first touch.

Northbeam’s multi-touch attribution (MTA) model divides credit between touchpoints to give you a holistic picture of what is really driving sales. You can read more about our MTA models here

Differences in Total Revenue

When comparing Northbeam’s Total Revenue and Orders to your internal source of truth (like a Shopify Dashboard) it’s very common to see differences in the data. Each platform has a slightly different revenue calculation. 

Want to make sure that shipping, taxes, and/or refunds are accounted for in your total revenue? Our team can make adjustments so you see the data you need to see to make informed decisions. 

Some technical tips:

  • Check to make sure you are in the right accounting mode (more below)
  • Check to make sure your filters are set correctly based on what you want to include and exclude in your total revenue calculation
  • Check to make sure Northbeam is set to the same timezone as your internal order table

Accounting Modes

Northbeam has two accounting modes for looking at your data: Cash Snapshot and Accrual Performance. Each accounting mode has a different way of allocating revenue and transactional credit, so they’re important to understand when you switch to Northbeam. 

In the Cash Snapshot mode, revenue and transactional credit are given when the transaction occurs, or when an order is placed. This is useful for understanding the money that comes in on any given day — aka, cash flow. 

Note that if you’re in Cash Snapshot mode, your return on ad spend (ROAS) metric will be shown as marketing efficiency ratio (MER). This is a semantic difference and the two metrics can be used similarly. MER can be most accurately described as a blended ROAS. 

In the Accrual Performance mode, revenue and transactional credit are given when the contributory marketing touchpoints occur. Contributory marketing touchpoints include any interaction that results in a website visit, such as clicks from an ad, direct visits, or clicks from an influencer link. 

Accrual Performance is mainly used to understand the direct return of your marketing dollars and the full impact of marketing channels on your business. It is more popular among Northbeam users because it gives credit to each touch and lets you get an accurate assessment of ad performance. 

TL;DR: Use Cash Snapshot mode to understand on which days revenue was created, and use Accrual Performance to understand which touchpoints contributed to that final revenue. 

What are all these new metrics?

If you’re coming from in-platform analytics, there may be some metrics on Northbeam that you’ve never seen before. While you don’t have to take full advantage of each and every data point that Northbeam serves up, it’s useful to have a cursory understanding of the different numbers you have at your disposal. 

Here are some of the big ones:

% of New Visits

This metric shows you the percentage of visits to your site that come from new versus returning customers. You may be able to see this number on other platforms, but Northbeam gives you some added functionality. 

Whereas you may be able to see % of New Visits on a UTM basis or broadly across your website with other tools, Northbeam lets you see it for each campaign or even each unique ad. You can also use Northbeam to see your revenue per new visit at different levels of granularity: revenue per new visit per channel, revenue per new visit per campaign, etcetera. There are loads of ways to serve up this data in a way that helps you make decisions. 

New Customer %

What percentage of orders come from new versus recurring customers? This is a great metric for understanding how effectively different channels are driving new customers. 

Returning customers are cheaper and easier to acquire, so platforms are often incentivized to include them in campaigns in order to skew conversions upwards. Even if you target a campaign entirely at new customer acquisition, there will typically be some leakage. Some channels do a much better job of targeting new users than others, and traditional ad platforms don’t show you this data. 

New Customer % is a way to look under the hood and find out which channel campaigns are actually serving your acquisition goals — and which ones are relying on returning customers to drive performance. 

First Time Customer Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

How well are your ads bringing in new customers? First Time Customer ROAS removes returning customers from your ROAS calculation so you can see how your ads are performing in terms of new customer acquisition only. 

First Time Customer ROAS also adds useful color to New Customer %. It takes that New Customer % and puts dollars and cents behind it so you can make informed spend decisions based on real and targeted ROI. 

Lifetime Value (LTV) ROAS

While many platforms offer ad attribution windows from 1-day to 7-days, they cannot show you the fully realized value of your ads on a longer attribution window without heavy modeling. 

How is the ad you launched two weeks ago doing? Thirty days ago? Three months ago? An LTV attribution window gives you complete information on the full impact of your ads, and Northbeam can even bridge the gap if a given user changes devices or phone numbers during that period. 

LTV ROAS gives ROAS an indefinite attribution window to see the effects of your campaign and how long those effects last; it shows you the lifetime value of your marketing campaigns and efforts without time constraints. 

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) Lift

ROAS Lift takes your LTV ROAS and divides it by your ROAS. But what does this mean? 

Let’s say your 1-day ROAS for an ad is 3x, meaning that you generated three times what you spent on ads. If you were to broaden that attribution window to look at the entire lifetime of an ad (LTV), perhaps that ROAS goes up to 4.5x as it gains more conversions over time. 

ROAS Lift would then be calculated as 4.5 / 3 = 1.5x. Your ROAS “lifts” by 1.5x when you look at it from an lifetime attribution perspective. 

ROAS Lift shows any efficacy that might be missed on top-of-funnel channels like TikTok when looking at 1-day or shorter term ROAS. ROAS Lift can help you validate your brand plays by showing how ROAS improves over time beyond initial measurements — and help you make tactical adjustments if your upper funnel media isn’t seeing a growing impact over time. 

Ecommerce Conversion Rate (ECR)

Everyone should be familiar with the concept of a conversion rate, but Northbeam’s ECR metric is a little bit different. Because we can hook up to your Shopify and add a layer of MTA, conversion rate can be broken down by channel, by ad and campaign, and even by new versus returning customers. 

Is your conversion rate good because it’s all repeat customers? Is it lower than expected but still acceptable given its high percentage of new customers? 

Like the other metrics on this list, ECR unlocks critical context that marketing decision makers aren’t used to having at their disposal with other tools. 

Get in touch with our team for more information on what you can expect when switching to Northbeam.

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