Online Lead Generation: Tracking 101

Tracking issues in digital marketing are complicatedIt is surprising how much investment some brands put toward generating leads online and then only read front-end results when assessing the performance of a digital campaign.

Note that “front end” can mean two things:

1. Driving traffic to the site

2. Completing an online form

If driving traffic is a campaign’s sole KPI, presumably there is a good reason. If not, keep reading because this is typically not a best practice and likely indicates that unsophisticated tracking is in place. If completing an online form is the sole KPI for the campaign, that’s better than merely measuring traffic, but it’s still impossible to know if the leads are actually qualified and converting further down the stream. So while the front end conversion metric is indeed a KPI that needs to be monitored and managed, unfortunately, it won’t inform whether or not a person took the second step to purchase anything.

For this deeper level of intelligence, it’s important to read the backend, too, which will require some sort of data integration fed it into a reporting system and then married up to the front end performance. This, unfortunately, is where good intentions can sometimes fall apart. People assume this is a large, onerous undertaking and too frequently put it on the back burner. As a follow up to this initiative, it may be worthwhile to assess how nimble the tech stack is, but for now, the project just needs to be prioritized and completed. Datafeeds and data integrations are common now across all types of platforms so this effort shouldn’t be a big deal. If the tech stack is nimble, there are off-the-shelf solutions that can do this easily. Regardless of whether the integration will be built off of a homegrown platform or purchased off-the-shelf, both will need some level of IT support to implement. In either case, the project should easily pass the “will it generate meaningful revenue to the organization?” test. The cost of the media investment is likely big enough that any optimizations identified through the data output will positively impact efficiency. Higher sales, of course, will also contribute nicely to the bottom line.

Another frequent black hole for leads driven to a website from paid media is the 800# on the website. Leads that convert through the 800# are infrequently attributed to the media partner or online campaign that initiated them. Because of this, the media is likely appearing to underperform, across the board. There are some great technologies that offer call tracking – even at the keyword level for SEM – such as GoogleInvoca, Mongoose/IfByPhone, Marchex, and more. Implementing call tracking will improve the performance of the online campaign by crediting the appropriate media source (and channel) with the revenue that converted through the 800#.

Once tracking is in place to read backend performance for leads collected on the website and/or through the website’s 800#, all campaign optimization tactics would shift from making improvements to affect front end performance to backend sales.   With clarify of which media partners are driving qualified leads, it is likely that the media buy will look considerably different.

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