Closing the Conversation Loop

By: Brad Pray, Account Supervisor

If you’re buying advertising but not tracking conversions, you might as well be sending your kid to school but never asking to see their report card. But that’s what most ad campaigns do, tracking only social conversations, and not click-throughs or visitor behavior. 

There’s a simple reason: That’s all that most off-the-shelf ROI tracking tools look for, and most agencies aren’t selling complete solutions. They’re sending their clients Google Analytics results showing how much your traffic increased based on their efforts.

But, unless your business model is based on web traffic alone, then visitors don’t mean a whole heckuva lot. Your job isn’t to attract customers—it’s attracting buyers. That’s the only ROI that matters. In other words, stop throwing your money at conversations, and invest in conversions.

Here’s how iostudio tracks our campaigns from contact to contract:

Put tracking on every effort, even offline.

You have options, no matter what type of campaign you’re running. When producing GX®: The Guard Experience magazine for our Army National Guard client, for example, we created stories that contained calls to action pointing the reader to custom URLs specifically created for placement in the magazine stories. That way, every visitor who came to those URLs could be linked directly to a specific story. It told us which subjects were resonating and which were falling flat.

Another example: Our call centers for the Army Guard and the U.S. Navy field calls through toll-free numbers specific to individual efforts and campaigns, so we know exactly what motivates those would-be enlistees to pick up the phone. Get creative. Trust us, it pays off.

If you think you’re being granular enough, try harder.

The more you track, the more intel you’ll get showing what works and what doesn’t. And, even if you’re tracking more elements than you know what to do with right now, it’s easy to roll up results into a single reported number, but it’s next to impossible to get more specific later. When it comes to tracking mechanisms, be even more granular than you think you need to be.

Build campaign success criteria on what moves dials for your business, not your ad agency’s.

If your business model is based on sales, then a campaign that earns you only visitors is like owning a swanky private jet with no engine. Getting visitors means that your ad agency did a good job of driving traffic to your site. That pays their bills. Getting conversions pays your bills. Your campaign success criteria should be built on real numbers and desired results, and your agency or vendor should be a partner who understands your bottom line and empowers you to achieve it.

Once your visitors arrive, don’t let them out of your sight.

To shift your monitoring focus from traffic to conversions, you need the ability to know how visitors got to your site and to follow them as they explore it. You can achieve this by assigning every visitor a unique code that acts kind of like a GoPro on their virtual shoulder. The code paints a picture of how individual visitors spend time on your site—where they come from, how they navigate from point to point, and what motivates them to convert…or to leave. Getting the hang of this takes some nerdery, but it’s well worth it. For the Guard, iostudio uses Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes, which link with Google Analytics to help us gauge the success, or shortcomings, of specific campaigns.

If you’ve built your marketing campaigns around conversions, and you’re tracking your visitors all the way to conversion, then you’ll be able to make smart decisions about what’s working, what’s not and where you should be spending your hard-earned marketing dollars. If you’re not, then maybe you should call us.


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Brad Pray loves managing data almost as much as he loves taking care of people. He came to iostudio seven years ago to oversee a major section of our call center, and from day one he’s had an impact on both our data and our people. He currently serves as our Client Account and Security Supervisor. If you meet him in the ioHalls, be ready for three things: smart analysis of data tracking and security, sharply tuned instincts for maintaining client satisfaction, and the sturdiest high five in the office.