Optimizing What You Can’t See: The Lead Quality Challenge

By , Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

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Lead Generation. These two words have the ability to strike fear in the hearts of PPC Heroes everywhere. Leads can be as elusive as Bigfoot himself when it comes to identifying the value your client associates with each conversion.  All of my lead gen clients appreciate when I can bring them buckets of leads, but they are even more excited when the leads are actually qualified enough to generate back-end revenue.

Sometimes this uncertainty is because you don’t have conversion tracking. Sometimes your client may not be able to get you the lead quality data on a regular basis. And sometimes your client may not even be entirely certain of what’s working and what’s not. But a girl’s gotta optimize, right? So here are a few thoughts about how to break into your account activity to push for more (and hopefully the right kind of) leads.

Take a look at what you know.  Does your client have any previous lead quality data? Is it that their account is simply failing to track lead quality at the moment, but you have access to previous info? While this is certainly not a foolproof method, you can glean nuggets of insight from old data. The best example of this would be seasonal trends. You may only have a few months of data or perhaps only quality info from year’s past- How can you dissect this?

Tip: What keywords picked up the majority of your quality traffic over a period of time? What was the seasonal motivation behind those keywords and how can you expand based on those details? Back-to-School? Pre-Tax Day? Following up on New Year’s resolutions? Take a look at the quality you’ve seen in the past and apply that strategy to the coming season to push for similar outcomes this time around, too!

Examine your converting search terms and where they reside in the sales funnel. When your visitors convert, where are they in the funnel? Can you narrow down your search traffic to be closer to a conversion that leads to back end success?

Tip: A conversion based on a search term such as “sources of medical prototype tubing” appears to be in a different point in the sale cycle versus the query “order 304 tubing online.” If you’re seeing a distinction in your queries, it may be time to push for a slightly different structure, or at the very least, lean on those “order online” queries to get them converted ASAP.

Are there locations or demographic data that can help you make better choices? Sure you may have long ago set your location targets to reflect what you’re capable of doing, but what about what works best? If your service or product is more relevant or preferable in a particular area, take a closer look at what less-qualified data you can exclude. Where do you tend to get more qualified candidates?

Example: If you appeal to the entire state of North Carolina for your home decorating business, but find the majority of your qualified leads coming from the Outer Banks (where vacation rentals are prevalent), consider boosting your bid adjustment for those areas to bring in more of those leads.

Keyword behavior- In the beginning, there was the word . Keyword, to be specific. Your keywords can tell you so many things about what users are looking for, and also what they’re finding, on your site. Some of the top metrics for evaluating lead quality at the keyword level are bounce rate and time on site and/or time on page. Obviously if a keyword has a high average bounce rate, something’s up. You need more negatives or a more refined keyword list. Either way, BR is a big indicator of quality (or lack thereof). But what about time on page? Are your visitors getting in, converting and getting out? Are they searching through pages of information before deciding to convert? Depending on the size, depth and breadth of your site, you may find that the traffic you deem most qualified are those that find their page of conversion within 1 or 2 clicks of landing.

Example: My site has several areas of focus, each with 4 or 5 pages of very relevant content. I know that a qualified lead may surf through any of those 5 related pages, but outside of those, the content doesn’t really apply. When I look at the keywords that have only 5 or less pageviews per unique visitor, I see someone who knows the material they were looking for. Conversely, if a visitor looks at page after page after page, I suspect they aren’t entirely sure of what they need and perhaps aren’t ready to take the plunge. These behaviors may lead to conversions (yay!) but they may not be as qualified as someone who was quicker to get to the contact form.

Landing pages and Conversion types- We’ve discussed bounce rate, which of course is an area of extreme opportunity. If your landing page has a consistently high bounce rate, you know what to do.  But what about everything else? How can you better understand the intention behind your users to ensure you’re getting the top level of quality? An option is to divide your quality from the beginning. If you have common questions or clarifications, you can separate your traffic into “general queries” versus “Yes, I’m interested.” How does this help? Once you identify what’s bringing in the “Yes, I’m interested” leads, you can then begin to optimize for these as “quality” leads. The general queries data may help you know what kinds of searches (or placements) are bringing in lower quality traffic.

Tip: Talk with your client about ideas like this, if you think it’s an opportunity for new insights. They may have an option that’s easy for them or you may offer a trial run through a bit of conversion rate optimizations. Either way, if you’re bringing in the lead numbers either way (and possibly increasing that volume), splitting the conversion action in types could help you improve your quality in the long run.

Universal Analytics – If I had a nickel for all the hopes and dreams I’ve got invested in Universal Analytics, let’s just say I’d be working from a yacht right now. We know Universal Analytics is gonna be something of a big deal down the road, but for now it could be a lifesaver. If your client falls into the “not getting you the back-end data on a regular basis” category, UniLytics, as some of us have been calling it, may connect the dots for you. In addition to adding new custom metrics and dimensions specific to your client, there is now the ability to connect the Universal Analytics account with your client’s CRM. In a nutshell, you’ll need to have a web developer who’s capable of integrating the two write a code that will allow these two platforms to “talk” to each other. Upon doing this, your Universal Analytics account will be updated as data changes. This takes out the middle man that has been telling you (or perhaps hasn’t) what conversions have revealed themselves to be qualified.

Tip: Before selling your client on UniLytics, make sure you know what you can do with it. What matters most to your client? What kind of quality is your major goal? An education client certainly deals in contact forms, visits, applications, and enrollments, but which one is metric that they correspond with their PPC marketing? With UniLytics, a CRM that collects contacts can update your Analytics account with the current status of each conversion, so that you’re able to see who went from contacting your client to actually scheduling an interview to actually applying for the program.

Of all of these tips, my favorite is the last. There is a LOT more to be said about Universal Analytics and what it can do for you, but one of its biggest selling points is the ability to connect back-end quality insights with real life PPC traffic.  And as you work up an amazing pitch for your client, be sure to use the rest of this list to keep performance at its peak!

What are other ways that you’ve battled the unknown in your accounts? How have you sifted through piles of data to best optimize for quality leads?

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  • Meghan

    What a great article, thank you! The timing is perfect as well..have an account right now that I will use your suggestions on. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • CarrieAlbright

      Don’t you love when that happens? Good luck on everything and we’ll look for your update! Thanks for reading, Meghan!