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On the right track?

Advertisers are still wasting money and missing out on opportunities through poor tracking; but there are simple steps businesses can take to monitor and improve performance. Our Director of Search Alan Reeves explains how in this extract from our latest publication, Personalising Search Marketing, produced in partnership with The Drum


Tracking – best and worst thing about the search marketing industry

It’s been ten years now since my first foray into search marketing and, throughout that time, the issue of tracking has often been highlighted as both the best and worst thing about the
industry.

The ‘best’ because, in 2016, we have the ability to track a wealth of data that can be used to optimise current performance and inform future strategy. Accurate data, turned into actionable insights, continues to fuel increased digital spending, making digital many businesses’ main marketing channel for the first time.

The ‘worst’ because so many advertisers are still wasting money through poor tracking.

I find that many businesses still only use very basic online conversion tracking, typically AdWords Conversion Tracking with Google Analytics Goals or Analytics Ecommerce Tracking. While this is an improvement on what I used to find seven to ten years ago, when businesses would often be satisfied with visits and clicks, the improvement in technology – and therefore the potential to track and use campaign data – has seen a quantum leap in comparison.

Optimum tracking requires investment

We now have the ability to track so much more than ever before. Some marketers have a finely tuned attribution model based on average customer lifetime values, calculated from a combination of offline and online data. This type of visibility takes investment not only in terms of technology, but also in resource and training; after all, your decisions are only as good as the data you are basing them on.

For example, an eCommerce business that takes orders over the phone is reliant on its call handlers to accurately input call data either via a CRM like Salesforce or through the phone handset using call tracking software like ResponseTap.

Stop thinking about the perfect solution

I believe it is this investment in time and resource that stops many businesses from improving their campaign tracking. There is a middle ground though. We need to stop thinking about the perfect tracking solution and start implementing a better tracking solution. Aiming to fully close the feedback loop across all sources is fine but you can start to improve your tracking today and work toward this ideal.

My advice would be to create a measurement plan covering every way a customer or prospect can get in touch with you, prioritise which of these are relevant KPIs for your campaigns then, based on these priorities, you can investigate either how to track or how to improve tracking of each metric. Keep in mind that the goal is to improve your campaigns, so you want to be tracking meaningful data that improves decision making.

Simple steps to improvement

If you don’t have the time or money to collect and analyse ‘Big Data’ then there are several simple improvements you can make:

Track phone calls

This can be done for free with AdWords Call Conversions which limits you to phone calls received from AdWords traffic. For a relatively low investment phone calls can be tracked at session level across all sources through other call tracking software. How much do you currently spend on display advertising or SEO without knowing how many, and what type of phone calls the traffic generates?

Feedback on the quality of calls or leads

Many businesses can be put off by the large amount of admin and process involved in tracking enquiries through to conversion and beyond. While this is the ideal, it’s much easier to provide basic feedback that can improve your campaigns today. For example, basic feedback such as a grading system or potential leads value can be valuable data for campaign  managers.

Use AdWords Conversion Import

Collect the “GCLID” from leads driven via AdWords, this can come through as a hidden field in an enquiry form and be easily imported into many CRM’s. When your leads are given a grade or value, they can then easily be imported to AdWords to determine the keywords and ads that are driving your best leads and worst leads. Are those generic keywords used by people who are going to buy? Are some ads just generating customer service enquiries?

Track offline conversion rates

You may not have the technology to track each offline conversion back to its original source. However top line data about leads to conversion is still better than nothing. If your offline conversion
rate and lead time is normally consistent, share it with your campaign managers and it may be possible to map improvements or reductions back to changes on campaigns.

Each of the above can be done with very little investment and if you have Google Tag Manager they can also be set up without technical assistance. I often find this data is being measured in some format within most businesses; we just need to share it with the right people. This often leads to improved communication and the break-up of silos which can bring many other benefits.

In conclusion

Improve your tracking today and start reaping the benefits – there is money to be saved and opportunities to exploit. This can pave the way to even better tracking and performance in the future.


We’ve produced this in-depth guide to using personalisation effectively in your search marketing strategy. It’s available exclusively to Drum magazine subscribers – and downloadable for free below:

personalising search marketing supplement



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