The evolution of website analytics and lead tracking has paved the way for a new dimension of data that provides companies with precise information that is actionable. We have made it beyond simple conversion / lead counts and arrived at a point where lead quality and lifetime value has taken center stage.
5+ years ago, I was surprised by the number of clients I would come into contact with who did not have a conversion-tracking program in place. I am not talking about an expensive enterprise-class solutions like WebTrends, CoreMetrics or Omniture. . . there was a lack of conversion tracking in its simplest form. Success may have been measured in simplest terms by tracking the number of hits to the web server, or by positioning on the 1st page of Google for a specific search term. Where, when, or how visitors arrived at a website was not considered important as long as there was an overall lift in online sales, leads, etc. The price of software implementation, training, and staffing required to manage the effort has often out-weighed the expected value / end result of mining data. Today, it has become routine for clients to have some form of website analytics in place.
Emergent, cost-effective solutions have been cropping up – that are able to collect and catalog vital data that Marketers require in order to report on traffic quality and at the end of the day, ROI. While they may not offer the full suite of reporting capabilities that an enterprise solution provides, they do feed data to Marketers in portions that are easy to digest and have actionable items. While the data has always been there to be mined from web server logs, the prospect of such tremendous information is daunting. We have seen new clients oversold on comprehensive analytics / lead tracking programs. Perhaps it is the sexy reports or slick interface that did the trick…..when in reality they don't have the resources – financial or staff – to take advantage of all the additional features commercial Web analytics tools provide. Being that a number of companies don’t require high-end features (i.e. session tracking) to make intelligent business decisions, there are a growing number migrating away from costly analytics platforms to less expensive solutions. Google and Yahoo both provide free tools with recently added features that rival expensive, high-end platforms.
Now that tracking traffic quality and ROAS (return on ad spend) are commonplace, clients who have become adept at analyzing their traffic data are looking for ways to take it to the next level. CRM (customer relationship management) and lead management vendors are answering by providing companies with direct integration to their platforms via API. For starters, this type of communication allows for:
- Automation of campaign management
- Data sharing
- Customized reporting
By feeding cost data from an advertising platform like Google AdWords into a CRM and / or lead management program, marketers are able to explore the connection between search term, cost, and associated lead quality (completion of email address and phone number, role or position held by contact, etc). Having all of these pieces allows companies to look at the bigger picture and make better informed campaign management decisions. For example, perhaps a particular keyword has historically been considered a ‘winner’ (relative to lead volume, CPA, or conversion rate). When the lead quality for that keyword is fed back into the analysis process, you may find the lead to sale ratio is weak…..or that the quality of lead is low in comparison to the rest. If you could reduce the amount of money it takes to generate a high volume of (poor quality) leads – money is saved and possibly reinvested into more promising keywords. While cutting back on lead volume may cause your Campaigns to run at higher CPAs – you are closer to learning which search engines / keywords / websites are working the best for you.
By employing a full circle conversion tracking system, companies can accomplish the following:
- Identify segments for potential micro-targeted remarketing campaigns
- Squeeze more performance from existing (online) marketing campaigns
- Forecast budgets with greater efficiency
Measuring a website’s performance has come a long way over a short period of time. It is refreshing to see the value being placed on the wealth of data available…and exciting to see how both heavy-hitters and newcomers are offering realistic solutions for companies of all sizes.