Today, I attended an interesting Search Marketing Now webinar titled, “Tracking Beyond the Lead,” presented by Alissa Ruehl of Apogee Paid Search Services. The thesis of the presentation was that you can generate leads all day long through paid search but if you aren’t generating revenue then something isn’t working properly.

For some campaigns, sending a large quantity of traffic to a specific site is its core mission. However, the majority of search marketing campaigns need to generate a positive ROI with measurable, traceable results. The end result that every advertiser is striving for is revenue (plain and simple). This is where tracking beyond the lead comes into play.

As Alissa stated, “Beware of shallow success.” A campaign may appear successful, especially if your cost-per-lead (CPL) is well below your goal and your total number of leads is very healthy. You have to make sure that this positive performance is not only skin deep. You need to track your leads to actual sales and tie those sales to direct revenue.

So, how do you actually accomplish this task? There are a handful of CRM (customer relationship management) software packages that will allow to track keyword-level revenue data. Do your research, choose the one that works best for you, and get to tracking!

Here are a few things to remember:

  • Create custom fields within your CRM in order to track your campaign/ad group/keyword/ad text data correctly.
  • Update your PPC destination URLs with this tracking information, and make sure that they are fully operational with your site. Before you launch any campaign, make sure all of your tracking is placed properly.
  • Create/update your tracking cookies. Most browsers have a higher acceptance rate of first party cookies, rather than third party cookies.
  • Remember to consdier the length of your sales cycle. Don’t wait too long to make decisions, but don’t make rash decisions before these leads have had a chance to come to fruition.
  • Test everything on your site. And then test it again.
  • Process and analyze all of your data and act accordingly.

In summary, generating leads should not be your end goal; revenue is. You need to learn which keywords actually turn into sales and focus your efforts on those revenue-friendly terms. A cheap cost-per-lead is great and its one step closer to your end goal, but you need to keep your on the ball – and that ball is revenue.