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Tracking Prospects Beyond the Click

  |  September 29, 2000   |  Comments

Tracking prospects beyond the click on banner-ad creative is useful because you can see the actions prospects take when they respond to your banner. You can determine response rates and compare different elements of a campaign. While such tracking is commonplace today, it's cost-prohibitive for small businesses. Richard tells you how to use Hitometer to conduct analyses of your online ad campaigns for free.

A long time ago, I managed a banner campaign using Adknowledge (now known as Engage|Adknowledge). I took advantage of a "new" service it had that actually let you track prospects beyond their clicks on the banner ad to see if it actually did what you wanted it to do. In our case, it was filling out a form to join a service.

It was incredibly useful because we could actually watch people move through the process we'd created from the creative to the form to the confirmation page to see if prospects did what we expected.

Such tracking is now commonplace, but it is still cost-prohibitive for small businesses.

This week, I'm going to talk about how to use a resource like Hitometer to do this sort of analysis of your online ad campaigns for free.

First, a quick explanation of how most online ad campaigns are set up.

Usually, any online ad campaign has three parts:

  1. The creative: a banner ad or a direct email piece with a URL that people see and click on.

  2. The jump page: the place on your site where said people land after clicking on your banner ad or direct email piece with the URL.

  3. The thank-you page: the place where said people go after they do whatever call to action you have set up on the jump page.

Next, a quick explanation of what Hitometer is.

Hitometer is one of many free services that let you track visitors to your web site by putting "tags" on your pages consisting of JavaScript code. The JavaScript can access all the same information you'd find in a log file, plus it can extract pieces of data from the web browser itself.

The obvious problem with Hitometer is that it is really only good at measuring traffic to one page. But it becomes particularly useful when you take two tags and place them in succession say, like on a jump page and a thank-you page in an online advertising campaign.

So here is where I'm going with this. You put a Hitometer tag on your jump page and then you put another Hitometer tag on your thank-you page. Doing this will tell you two things:

  1. How many people clicked on your ad and came to the jump page.

  2. How many people actually followed the call to action on the jump page (because they made it to the thank-you page).

If you know how many times your ad was seen (your impressions), you can take that number and divide it into the number of hits to the jump page. That's your response rate. Then take your impressions number again and divide it into the number of hits to the thank-you page. That's your conversion rate.

Here's an example:

    1,000 impressions
    10 hits to the jump page
    5 hits to the thank-you page

    10 hits w 1,000 impressions = .010, or 1% response rate
    5 hits w 1,000 impressions = .005, or 0.5% conversion rate

Doing this calculation for different creative tells you which pull better.

Pretty nifty, huh? And it's free.

Also, looking at the numbers as a whole can tell you if there is something wrong with parts of your campaign. For example, if your ad was shown 1,000 times and you got 500 click-throughs to your jump page, but then only 5 click-throughs to your thank-you page, it would suggest that your creative is good, but your jump page is weak.

Incidentally, this was the pattern we saw with that banner campaign I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Our creative was pulling people in, but the client's sign-up form was keeping them away. When we pointed this out, the client said it was too much trouble for them to redesign the form.

And you wonder why I left the agency side of the business.

Type at you next week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Hoy

After five years of telling others about how to spend their marketing budget online, Richard Hoy recently left the employ of this influential publication to see if what he's been blabbing with his big fat mouth all these years really works. He is President and Co-founder of Booklocker.com Inc., an alternative to traditional publishing that helps authors realize profits of up to 70 percent of sales by combining electronic publishing with Internet marketing.

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