As a marketing agency, the main thing that our clients want to know is that they are making more money than they spend on marketing with their ROI. In this article we’re just going to discuss Paid Search, and leave the issues related to conversion tracking through organic search for another time.

With ecommerce websites, measuring paid search ROI is a relatively easy process. Clicks lead directly through to sales (or a website exit), and it’s easy to track which campaigns, ads and keywords are successful. It’s simply a case of setting up the correct tags and feeding data back to Adwords.

On the other hand, a lead generation business has no direct link from click to sale. Often the process will go through a range of stages, from clicking the ad and placing an enquiry, to liaising with the sales team, and possibly even going through a lengthy negotiation process before the deal is closed. In many cases, it could be over a year from the initial click to the time of the sale.

It therefore becomes nearly impossible to track what is and isn’t working, and even if it could be tracked, the delay can be so long that market conditions often change during that period, possibly rendering feedback largely irrelevant.

There are a number of steps which can be taken to improve the process, providing better feedback to the campaign manager and improving the effectiveness of the campaign.

1. Implement call recording. All non-transactional websites love customers calling them, even if they have other methods of conversion such as contact forms. By listening to calls you can get an understanding for how people perceive the company, perhaps understand why some people prefer the phone to the contact form and decide how to capitalise on this.

2. Implement call tracking. Yes, it’s almost the same as the last point, but there is an important distinction. High end call tracking systems can generate dynamic numbers that change for each user, and will feed data back to Analytics & Adwords detailing which campaigns, ads and keywords have been responsible for driving the calls.

3. Use a lead tracking spreadsheet that the client shares each week or month. The quality of the data in this sheet can vary from client to client, as attributing each lead to a keyword and ad can take up a lot of time, but it’s important to at least know how many leads are coming through PPC.

4. Review the conversions that your campaign is tracking in Adwords, and consider assigning values to each of them. Get rid of conversions like time on site, use event tracking within Analytics to track real conversion points, and if you have some conversions that are worth more to the business than others (perhaps a direct enquiry is worth more than a ‘call me back’), assign values to each type of conversion to provide more insight within your campaign management interface.

As an agency, we have taken on a lot of PPC accounts where events such as ‘key page views’ or ‘time on site’ are being treated as conversions, or they even have no conversion tracking at all, and this is the limit of insight that the previous campaign manager received. If you use bad data you’ll achieve bad results. It’s vital that PPC managers insist on installing robust conversion tracking methods and keep in touch with clients to understand which enquiries are benefitting their business.

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