Optimize Online Lead-Gen for Offline Sales

Internet Retailer reports Internet retail sales in the U.S. are ballooning at a very healthy rate, about 25 percent in 2004. But as I reported last year, the Internet still influences more offline spending. When the transaction is completed somewhere other than an online shopping cart, how do you measure and optimize your site’s role in the conversion process?

With the new marketing and advertising landscape, companies are demanding greater accountability for their ad spend. Current technology and better persuasive planning can help a company not only increase the lead/cross-channel pipeline but also to measure and optimize it.

Drive Mass Media to Your Site

If your company spends a significant amount of money buying mass media, tracking effectiveness can be tricky. It may not be completely accurate, but you can likely measure which channel generates the most traffic for your site:

  • Use friendly, easy-to-remember URLs in mass-media campaigns. If you want to compare campaigns by using a unique URL for each, use differentiating URLs, such as “go.clickz.com” or “read.clickz.com” rather than “www.clickz.com/tv/1234.html.” If you use a forward slash (“/”), it generally won’t work. If mass-media visitors actually remember the URL, they’ll likely just go to your home page and forego anything after the slash.

  • Create a different offer for each campaign. Or, track campaigns with a coupon code on a printed piece. Beware: only certain customer types will actually participate in an offer.
  • Realize mass media is mass media. Judging mass-media campaign effectiveness on a cost-per-lead basis is almost impossible. When you buy any mass media, reaching a bunch of people who will never buy from you is unavoidable. It’s also extremely difficult to funnel mass-media activity into a specific channel (e.g., a landing page) and measure it with any degree of accuracy. You’ll likely send traffic to some of your other channels, too (e.g., a call center or a brick-and-mortar store).

Optimize Online Campaigns

When customers arrive at your site from online marketing channels, measuring and realizing their intent and optimizing persuasive scenarios become much easier. Whether you send leads to an offline call center, a partner, your in-house sales department, even a brick-and-mortar store, there are several ways to measure and optimize marketing channels and their effectiveness.

A recent case study outlines Merchant Warehouse‘s success with the ClickPath technology to optimize call-center leads. Here are some of Merchant Warehouse’s goals:

  • Measure and optimize each campaign level’s ad spend by increasing, continuing, or discontinuing ad source spending based on call traffic generation.

  • Measure and optimize spending on each keyword by enhancing its ability to measure which keywords generate call traffic. This enabled marketers to pull back spending on underperforming keywords. The company also wanted to maximize or increase spend on undervalued keywords that may not generate online conversions but effectively generate offline conversions.
  • Overall, reduce CPC (define) and generate more prospect visits at the current budget.

Merchant Warehouse achieved its goals by:

  • Inserting client-side JavaScript code and HTML tags in advertisers’ Web pages. It specified toll-free numbers for each campaign and each keyword, or other defined prospect attribute.

  • Tracking visitor sessions with ClickPath technology. It could present the same trackable number on every page a user viewed until she called.

Merchant Warehouse optimized ad sources, keywords, and site paths with spectacular results:

  • CPC decreased 75 percent, more than doubling new visitors on the same budget.

  • Call conversion rates increased.
  • Sales closure rates in the call center increased.
  • Revenue grew 300 percent in 2004 over 2003.

Maximize Sales Opportunities Lead by Lead

In addition to optimizing and maximizing its lead pipeline, Merchant Warehouse used ClickPath data to accelerate and maximize sales opportunities. Visitors’ site path data was tracked; when visitors initiated a call, ClickPath captured the call event and bridged the call data with the online session. The call center got a glimpse of what the prospect was looking at on the site. This obviously helped the call closure rate and allowed the company to optimize the offline sales process.

Optimize Paths Individually

When companies measure multiple marketing channels’ effectiveness for efficiency and reducing CPC, they can be tempted to abandon certain channels too early in the optimization phase. We’ve seen many companies attempt to throw out a “less efficient” campaign source only to find that with some optimization and proper A/B testing, they can salvage the channel.

Meet Bryan at Search Engine Strategies August 8-11 in San Jose, CA.

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