Today marks the beginning of series week at PPC Hero. We’ll be discussing issues that our authors have faced and how they’ve been overcome. From lead generation to eCommerce campaigns, we’ve shared our shortcomings and how we’ve risen to the challenges. Carrie is first this week, speaking about lead generation campaigns.

In PPC we’re constantly checking performance and making optimizations based on what the data tells us. But what if we’re looking at the data wrong? Even worse, what if we’re accidentally excluding entire sets of data that would steer us in another direction?

In The Beginning

Once upon a click, there was an account that was humming along as usual. It generated a consistent number of leads per week. Although this account was bringing in a steady 15-20 leads per week, it started behaving less predictably,  having weeks with moments of high performance, followed by low-lead weeks.

Initial Drop In Performance

We pulled the usual tricks out of our hats and tried to identify what bid changes, setting updates, and keyword additions/exclusions might help improve our volume. And this helped– a little. We had noticed that the overall conversion rate just wasn’t holding up, even though many of our onsite metrics remained in tact.

There are times when you do your best to optimize bids or reassess your ad copy to ensure you’re attracting just the right visitor at just the right time – all the while, your answer may be just outside your periphery.

In this case, the object beyond my -3.75 vision was the additional list of options my visitors have when they arrive. Specifically their engagement choices. Yes, there is the traditional “conversion” – in fact, this site has two online lead forms. But there is also a live chat box that pops up, inviting questions and clarifications from site visitors. The site also promotes the “Call Us Now” option in multiple locations across each landing page.

What the online conversion data in AdWords and Google Analytics doesn’t tell us is that while we thought we were losing leads during those lower weeks’ performance, more was happening than we realized.

During this time, the ratio of PPC visitors taking advantage of the live chat box was actually shifting, too! They weren’t converting by form because they were connecting with our live agents!

Chat to Lead Ratio

The weeks of March 9th, April 20th and mid May thru early June saw some strong performance for the proportion of online chats to leads. These dates also coincide with when the online leads weren’t looking so hot. What are we deducing from these clues?

While generating online leads are a substantial part of what we do, we can also see our contribution elsewhere on the site and optimize towards that goal, too.

What have we done since this revelation?

Being able to use Google Analytics data for our online chats, gives us clear ideas for what campaigns these chatters originate. From there we are able to bid up on keywords or even just increase the budget to allow for more traffic to come through. The visibility we have from GA and from the third party chat platform plays a huge role in how we assess our opportunities.

This breakdown of traffic associated with various types of interactions allowed us also to bid more successfully on our lead-producing terms and settings as well. This insight brought a stronger volume across both types of customer contact.

In fact, the total lead volume increased by 184% over the following 8 weeks,

and the chat engagement grew by 226%.

 After the Optimizations

But what about those of you without this visibility?

You don’t always have access to this data and it’s not always easy to get the tracking kinks worked out immediately. But what do you have? You have your client. Your boss. Your call or chat agents. You have access to those who can tell you what they’re experiencing as they interact with prospective clients or customers.

If working in lead gen has taught me nothing else, it is that communication is key. I have never found an account that can exist without some client-side input. This is the perfect example. While I allowed the data to reveal what I had been missing on first glance, I followed up with my client on the volume and quality of the live engagements (i.e. calls & chats) that had been received each week.

Although Google AdWords and Bing Ads can both provide a useful interface for watching the world’s engagement with your ads, sitelinks, landing pages, and conversion options, there is always more beyond them. As you improve your own PPC optimization skills, be sure to examine what all is within your peripheral vision and what you may have lying just outside of it.