Paid Search For Lead Generation – Tracking Revenue For A True ROI
In this article, we’ll take a quick look at what paid search is and why it’s good for lead generation – then we’ll dive into which elements you should track and why.
The very best athletes in the world do not just get there by chance. They put in years of work, measuring and fine-tuning their routine until they’re the best they can possibly be.
Whether you’re a gold medallist, running a SME or managing a marketing team, measuring your results can help you spot what’s working – and what isn’t. Once you know this, you can ramp up the good stuff and kill the rest.
When it comes to marketing, this continual process of fine-tuning can help you get better at finding customers, and most importantly turning interactions into revenue. It also means you’ll end up wasting less time and effort on things that don’t deliver.
What is paid search?
Paid Search For Lead Generation allows businesses to place an advert within the sponsored spot on a search engine homepage or a website. They do this by paying when that ad is clicked (known as PPC).
Paid search marketing is known by lots of different names:
- Search Engine Marketing (which includes SEO)
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
- Search engine advertising
These ads, which display at the top of the page, look just like regular search engine results, with the exception of a subtle ‘ad’ next to the website domain, which lets you know it’s sponsored.
Other formats include text that appears at the bottom of organic search results, banner ads, and shopping ads shown at the top.
A big benefit of paid search is that it can be measured. As well as being able to see how many people clicked on your ad and how much it cost, you can also see what actions that person took – and importantly – how many conversions you got from it. We’ll go into this in a little more detail further on.
Why use PPC for lead generation (and how does it work)?
Many think PPC is just for eCommerce, but that’s not the case: it’s really effective for businesses running lead generation campaigns.
Lead generation (or ‘lead gen’) is usually for businesses that either have a long sales cycle (usually because the product or service is complex), they need to filter customers before doing business, or they attract customers online but complete sales offline.
These types of customer journey can be long – sometimes taking upwards of a year or more. Lead gen should therefore be a continual process whereby leads regularly enter the top of your sales funnel and work their way down. But finding a constant stream of leads is tricky – and that’s where PPC comes in.
PPC is at the ‘awareness’ stage of the sales funnel. Once they’re there, they’ll enter a process that involves both the customer and the company getting to know each other a bit better with the aim of securing a sale or action.
What does PPC for lead gen look like?
- PPC ads (including paid social media)
- Organic social media
- Organic search (on-page SEO is what gets you to the coveted page one position)
The more finely-tuned your ads, blog posts, SEO strategy, and email marketing efforts are, the better your chances of attracting good quality leads. Once you have your leads, you can then fine-tune your marketing even more by segmenting them into different groups and tracking their journey to get a fuller picture of their goals and needs.
Why you should track the customer’s journey
You’ve heard of the saying ‘all roads lead to Rome’? This basically means all methods of doing something will lead to the same result. And sadly when it comes to sales, it’s just not true. Some roads lead to a sale, others lead…well…nowhere.
Mapping out your customers’ various journeys can give you helpful insight into what’s working and what’s not. Tracking the full journey also allows you (and advertisers) to fine-tune it based on factors that lead to better ROI.
Let’s take roads to Rome as an example. If we ignore all the roads that don’t lead there and just focus on those that do, you’ll notice that some roads are better than others. When it comes to tracking your marketing efforts, we need to take the same approach: ramp up what works, and kill what doesn’t. This is where the fine-tuning comes in…
What are micro-conversions?
Most marketers know what macro-conversions are, but for those unacquainted with the term, it simply refers to the primary goal of your business. If you’re an eCommerce site, that’ll be a sale. If you’re a security expert, double glazing specialist – or anyone else who conducts sales offline – it’ll be when someone requests a quote or calls the sales team, usually via your website, or on the phone.
It’s rare for a customer to leap straight into the sale or booking. I know I’ve never clicked on a banner ad and bought from that site immediately, and I suspect the same is true for you.
Instead, a customer journey is typically made up of lots of little steps that all lead to the macro conversion. And these little steps are what’s known as micro-conversions.
Here’s a very basic example of a customer journey made up of micro-conversions that eventually lead to a macro conversion.
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Following your brand on social media
- Visiting specific pages
- Allowing push notifications
- Downloading a whitepaper or eBook
- Watching a video
- Sharing a post
Why are micro-conversions important?
Few people buy something on a first visit – and this is especially true for B2B purchases. This is where measuring your micro-conversions can be useful: it helps you understand your customer better.
Here’s an example of a customer journey made up of micro-conversions that eventually lead to a macro conversion.
- Click a paid search ad on Google
- Land on an optimised landing page
- Downloads a brochure (micro-conversion)
- Receives a series of relevant emails
- Return to site
- Calls the sales team (Macro-conversion)
- Sale is completed offline
Seeing how your customers behave at each stage of their journey gives you the opportunity to see how they interact with your touchpoints – whether that’s a paid search ad (which you can test), or your website.
Here’s an example.
Say a quote request is part of your conversion funnel. Looking at your website’s analytics could reveal that people are dropping off at this point – which could indicate a problem with your form. You can then examine it to see what needs improving and fix the situation.
Another example: say you have a paid search ad that’s not converting – running A/B tests on the copy could give you a better idea of what works (and what doesn’t).
Why you should track revenue (and how to do it)
Goal completions (e.g newsletter sign-ups and follows on social media) are important, but they’re not enough. You need to track revenue, too. This shows you which efforts are profitable.
For example, imagine you’re a business and you’re seeing good results from your lead generation activities. You’ve generated lots of leads and that looks great. But if most of those leads are low quality, then ROI will be low.
Track your revenue. To do this, you need to look at your sales, then work backwards and follow their journey back to the ad or keyword that brought them there. This shows you the full customer journey, so you can see how they got where they did.
You’ll then need to split your customers into groups. Why? Because some will be more profitable than others. For example – those coming to your site from a job site backlink may just be looking for career opportunities. It’d be a waste to focus your marketing efforts on them since it’s unlikely they’ll buy. Focusing on the customers most likely to convert helps you fine-tune your marketing efforts, saving you time and money.
Once you’ve identified your most profitable customers, it’s important to nurture them throughout their journey. This means understanding what their route could look like, and matching your messaging to fit. For example, sending new leads discount offers to entice them towards a macro conversion, aka sale.
An example of a micro-conversion nudging customers towards a conversion.
What’s the best way to track the customer journey?
If you’re an eCommerce site, tracking the full journey can be done using marketing automation tools. Different traffic sources – like keywords and PPC ads – produce different revenue and different lifetime values. It’s important to track these so you can accurately calculate your ROI from different sources and fine-tune your campaigns accordingly.
This can be done by capturing the Google Click ID (GLICD) which can be sent as a hidden field to the sales team. Other customers can be tracked through live chat and phone calls, which should also be measured.
If part or all of your customer’s journey is done offline – for example, you sell from a showroom or over the phone – then you need to track offline sales to get a full picture of your ROI. And this comes down to data collection and organization.
Here are some ways to track offline ROI:
- Track phone calls. Use different phone numbers for different advertising routes, so you know that every call that comes through on a specific number engaged with your offline advertising efforts.
- Track emails. Using the same method above, dedicate a specific email address to a specific ad campaign so you can see which one is bringing customers your way.
- Use offline brand tracking tools, such as Adalyzer, which tells you whether there are any trends or spikes in customer activity when your radio or TV ad plays.
- Use promo codes: Not just limited for online sales, these can help you track your customer’s journey back to a specific route or origin. Whether your ads in a newspaper or on the radio, discount codes will help you work out which customer came from where.
- Share data between departments: Customer service teams, sales, and marketing should be communicating regularly to share their own data insights. Once you have your data, you can collate it to get a full picture of your customer’s journey and experience.
While leads look great, if they’re not generating profits, you’re going to run into a problem. The takeaway? Track your customers’ journey and the revenue for a true picture of ROI.
Top tips for tracking your revenue
There’s no right or wrong way to go about this, but there are things to bear in mind if you want to get the best results.
– Be organised
Planning is key to running a smooth, organised project. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) processes help you streamline your lead management. Usually done on a spreadsheet or project management tool, it involves tracking prospects, including who you’ve spoken to, how many times, their responses and so on. Without it, things can just feel a bit… messy.
– Consider the lead time
Lead time (the time from lead to final purchase) should be considered when tracking performance. For example, you could look at 6 months’ worth of advertising and tracking, and see no sales and give up. This would be a mistake: some leads take a long time – especially in B2B where the purchasing journey is often far slower than B2C.
We at Logica Digital have clients who have had lead times of two years – yes it’s a wait, but the payoff is usually worth it. The lead time (time from lead to final purchase) should be considered when reporting on performance.
– Keep the customer engaged
The key to turning leads into customers is to keep them engaged with your brand throughout the sales funnel journey. This is where knowing your lead times is especially useful: if you decided to stop your efforts after a couple of months because you didn’t know your lead times could take a year or more, then that’s a customer lost.
Marketing automation can do the heavy lifting when it comes to planning, coordinating, and measuring all your campaigns – both online and offline – in tandem with your lifecycle marketing strategy.
– Only gather the data you need
People are becoming more aware of how their data is collected and used. Asking too much can be a real turn-off for customers – so only ask for what you absolutely need, when you need it. Not only is too much data collection a red flag from the customer’s POV, but the GDPR means you could risk big fines if you’re not compliant with collection and storage. Not a good look for any business.
A customer’s journey is never simple, and rarely linear when you break it down into micro-conversions and separate the leads into segments. By focusing on the groups of leads that lead to revenue, and by fine-tuning each micro-conversion so it best appeals to your best customers, you’ll directly improve your chances of achieving your bigger goals.
A well-managed and results-focused paid search campaign will improve your marketing efforts. At Logica, we like to take an in-depth look at your brand, customers and competitors so we can deliver you paid search campaigns that deliver leads, sales and revenue.
Once a campaign is live, we monitor, manage, and optimise it throughout its journey to assess how effective your current keywords are at converting. The result? A lead generation strategy that’s at the top of its game.
If you’d like to know what results you could expect, then request your free campaign audit with no obligations. Get in touch today.