There’s a phrase computer programmers have used for years to explain certain flaws in computer code: “Garbage in, garbage out.” Simply put, it means that if the computer is given poor instructions, it can’t be expected to deliver an accurate product. It should be no surprise, then, that many of the most common flaws found in Internet marketing campaigns are the fault of bad information being fed into the process.
Here at Internet marketing agency Straight North, we’ve found that a good portion of the time, Internet marketers are using bad information as the basis for important decisions they make about their lead generation websites. However, this doesn’t happen because the marketers are incompetent or lazy — it happens because the information they’re using simply is incomplete. That’s why, we here at Straight North have long been advocates of adding a lead validation and tracking component to online marketing campaigns.
Too often, Internet marketers make the mistake of relying on the raw conversion numbers they receive from Google Analytics. These numbers tell them how many conversions their website delivers within a certain period, and many online marketers believe this is an accurate depiction of the number of new customers their lead generation websites are bringing to them.
Using that information as a basis, they go on to make major decisions about their campaigns and their websites. This is where they make their biggest mistake, however, because those raw conversion numbers only tell part of the story.
Google Analytics provides online marketers with the number of conversions their websites deliver. That includes every time a visitor fills out a form or takes some other type of action on the website that involves contacting the company. What most online marketers don’t stop to consider, however, is how frequently those interactions are related to sales.
As it turns out, only about half of all website conversions are true sales leads. These are the interactions in which a visitor decides he or she wants to become a customer of the business in question and is likely to make a purchase. However, this means the other half of a website’s conversions are interactions in which there is practically no chance that the visitor will become a customer.
This is because those conversions are interactions such as job applications, customer service inquiries from existing customers, and even incomplete form submissions. These conversions, although many are useful in other contexts, are dead ends from a sales perspective. However, there’s no difference for Google Analytics between a visitor who seriously wants to do business and one who just typed gibberish into the form.
To some, it might not seem like a big deal that these conversions are lumped together by Google’s reporting. After all, if the numbers include serious customers, they still can be useful as an estimate of how many true sales leads are being generated, can’t they? Is there really a need to dig deeper into that data and find more substrata of information? Remembering the “garbage in, garbage out” adage should answer those questions, because making important decisions based on vague information can cause some serious problems.
For instance, assume that a lead generation website has two main sources that generate conversions for a company: Source A generates 100 conversions a month, while Source B generates 50 conversions. The marketer, seeing those raw conversion numbers from Google Analytics, could reasonably assume that Source A is far more successful at driving new customers to the company than Source B. When the time comes for that marketer to optimize the website, Source A should logically receive more resources and attention than Source B. The marketer may even decide to rework Source B to bring it more in line with how Source A performs.
However, understanding what we know now about what those conversion numbers actually tell us, that marketer may want some additional information before proceeding with any optimization plans. Subjecting the site’s conversions to a lead validation and tracking process may produce some surprising results.
For example, Source A’s 100 conversions may only contain 25 true sales leads, with the rest made up of those “dead ends” mentioned earlier. Source B, on the other hand, may deliver 50 sales leads out of 50 conversions. This is a much higher return on investment for the marketer and would reveal that Source B is the higher-performing source. If the marketer had proceeded under the assumption that Source A was more successful, the website could have become less effective at drawing in new customers.
Building the Process
All of this goes to show why online marketers shouldn’t ignore lead validation and tracking. With that process in place, marketers can separate the true sales leads from the conversions that won’t result in new customers. They also can determine exactly where each sales lead originated, including sales leads that come in by phone.
Adding lead tracking and validation to an existing online marketing campaign involves building special code into the infrastructure of a website as well as partnering with a vendor that can provide phone call tracking. Although these require a bit of additional effort, the result can be well worth it to give you the most accurate picture of how successful your lead generation website truly is.
To ensure that your lead generation website can provide you with more detailed information about your conversions, you need to:
- Confirm that the primary contact form on your website has a “comments” field and that it is a required field.
- Confirm that your website is running Google Analytics.
- Confirm that your website is running on a content management system that stores each form submission in a table with a unique ID assigned to it.
- Modify your Google Analytics code to pass the form submission ID to Google Analytics using a custom dimension.
Tracking phone calls is an important dimension to add to a lead generation campaign because a substantial number of people still prefer to connect with a company over the phone as opposed to email. To implement phone call tracking, you should:
- Find a call tracking vendor that can track each phone call back to a specific marketing source.
- Implement the call tracking vendor’s code on your website to start tracking phone calls.
- Make sure your phone call tracking vendor can provide you with a single tracked phone number that you can hardcode on your website to replace your business phone number.
After these processes are implemented and optimized, an Internet marketer can gain a greater understanding of exactly how successful an online lead generation campaign truly is. The data you receive from your lead generation website may not be “garbage,” but adding lead validation and tracking to your processes can ensure that what you get out of your campaign won’t be, either.