There’s been a revolution going on in the professional sports world over the last several years, and it’s being driven by the desire for better data. For decades, pro athletes have been judged based on the same set of criteria familiar to anyone who collected sports cards — runs batted in, points per game, yards per carry, etc.
However, a growing number of sports teams have recognized that those numbers weren’t telling the whole story.
Led by statisticians with new approaches to keeping score, sports teams have begun tracking new types of stats that have been shown to provide more detail about a player’s performance to give the team a clearer picture of that player’s value on the field, court or ice.
By drilling down into the data they were receiving, and looking for new forms of data they didn’t track before, sports teams become better evaluators of their players’ success and failure.
The same principle can apply to the Internet marketing world. Online marketers want to know how well their lead generation websites are doing at generating new sales leads, because that information informs their efforts to optimize those sites.
However, they may be stopping short of getting all the information they need to make the most informed decisions.
That’s because, they often don’t dig any deeper than the raw conversion numbers they get from their reporting platforms, whether it’s Google Analytics or some other source.
The danger lies in those numbers’ inability to tell marketers everything they need to know about how successful their lead generation campaigns are.
Without critical information provided by a lead validation and tracking process, for instance, marketers can’t optimize their websites with the same effectiveness as forward-thinking baseball managers with advanced metrics at their disposal.
Deeper into Data
Here at PPC management agency Straight North, we’ve long been believers in the importance of lead validation and tracking as crucial components of an online marketing campaign.
Internet marketers simply can’t rely on raw conversion numbers, because they don’t go deep enough into a website’s performance to be a reliable basis for important decisions.
The lead validation and tracking process provides marketers with more comprehensive data than they would have had access to without it.
The detail’s importance becomes increasingly apparent when you consider the kinds of decisions that can be affected by that data.
For example, assume a lead generation website has two sources for conversions. Source A generates 100 conversions a month, while Source B generates 50 conversions a month.
A marketer might see those figures and be led to believe that Source A is better at bringing in new customers, which would be logical.
However, what the marketer might not know in that situation could be very harmful.
After examining and validating over 1 million website conversions, we found that nearly half the time, conversions are not sales leads.
These interactions fall into numerous categories such as spam, customer service inquiries, job applications and incomplete form submissions. Even though these interactions do not have a good chance of becoming new customers, reporting platforms such as Google Analytics count them all with serious sales leads.
Validating those leads is the only way marketers can be certain that the conversions on their websites actually are potential customers.
Therefore, subjecting all the conversions from the website in the hypothetical example to a lead validation process, it could be that out of Source A’s 100 conversions, only 25 were true sales leads. Source B, on the other hand, could have generated 50 sales leads out of 50 conversions.
That means, the hypothetical marketer should be looking at Source B as the model for how his or her lead generation website should function, not Source A.
Trying to make Source B more like Source A or pumping more resources into Source A might only have the effect of hindering the entire campaign’s effectiveness.
Validating and tracking sales leads also helps marketers account for leads that come in over the phone. This is a significant portion of potential new customers that website reporting simply doesn’t include.
A Powerful Process
Building lead validation and tracking into an existing website is a detailed process that requires new code and partnering with a vendor to track phone calls.
However, the additional effort can be well worth it once you begin to receive more accurate and detailed information about your website and campaign. The process is as follows:
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 required “comments” 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 component to add to a lead generation campaign. This is 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 hard code on your website to replace your business phone number.
Today’s professional sports teams know something that Internet marketers should take to heart — data can always be more detailed. Implementing lead validation and tracking might seem unnecessary.
However, the added detail and information it provides can be crucial in building a campaign that functions at its most effective and efficient.
About - Matt Cannon is Director of Web Services at Straight North, a full-service Internet marketing company in Chicago that provides SEO, PPC and web design services. Cannon manages all web development activities, making sure that each project is applying current development standards and techniques.