Web Lead Tracking Explained: How to Get High Quality Leads with the Internet

This is a guest post from Brad Shorr. 

A lot of entrepreneurs and midsize firms say they “get a lot of web leads.” However, when asked if they know the source of the leads, they have only a vague idea – and sometimes, no idea at all.

How can you tell where to direct your marketing efforts if you don’t know where your leads are coming from? You can’t.

This post will talk about how to set up lead tracking on your site, take the guesswork out of your marketing, and help you get more, high quality leads.

Phone Conversions

A lot phone inquires are never even identified as web leads! This can lead firms to seriously undervalue their Internet marketing efforts.

There are basically two ways to track phone leads: “simple” and “session.”

Simple Phone Tracking

With this method, a service provider such as Marchex sets up a unique phone number that is tied to a particular lead source. Depending on how broadly or precisely you want to track, a handful or a much larger number of phone numbers can be used.

For example, some firms tie one phone number to all of their Google AdWords ads. Other firms tie a phone number to each keyword within the AdWords campaign. The first way allows you to measure the effectiveness of your PPC program as a whole; the second, more granular approach allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of each keyword phrase you are bidding on.

In the same way, a unique phone number can be tied to Microsoft adCenter ads, an email campaign, a specific email blast, a social media landing page, or even a print ad. The service provider collects the data and supplies analytics.

Beyond providing aggregated referral data, tracking services can supply you with a recording of every phone call.  By listening to the call, a business can identify the source of each individual lead – and evaluate and improve its inbound sales team’s performance.

Session Phone Tracking

Firms that are highly dependent on web leads often want more detailed lead tracking data. Service providers such as Mongoose Metrics are able to assign a unique phone number to each site visitor, which dynamically displays when they enter your site.

Phone numbers stay attached to the visitor for a fixed period of time — say, 12 hours. During that time, the tracking service records all phone leads, along with data from every visitor session, including where visitors came from. Data on referring sites can be as granular as specific keywords from a PPC ad.

These services are expensive, but offer insights that can help refine not only lead generation, but conversion rate optimization (CRO) as well. We normally start recommending this approach when a firm’s media spend exceeds $5000/month.

Insider Phone Tracking Tips

  • Always select an 866 number over an 800 number. Since 800 numbers have been around much longer, they tend to be recycled, and as a result, generate more junk calls from people who associate the number with its previous owner(s).
  • Be sure to ask your tracking service to turn on phone recording because surprisingly, some don’t record automatically.
  • When reviewing recorded calls, accept the fact you will have to listen to misdials, hang-ups, and auto-dialers (phone spammers). These often represent a fair amount of call volume, but need to be sifted through in order to identify and evaluate the true leads.

Form Tracking

Many firms lump all of their form fills into a “web lead” pile that doesn’t tell them anything about where the leads came from. This can be fixed by setting up form tracking, which can be done internally or through a service.

DIY Form Tracking

You or your developer may have the ability to set a cookie that identifies the referring site of every visitor, including the PPC keyword. When a visitor fills out a form, the referring site information is attached to the form. Now you know where your form leads are coming from.

Form Tracking Services

Two problems with DIY tracking: first, some firms don’t have the expertise to set it up; second, even though the referral information is connected, everything else in the conversion process is still manual.

To overcome these problems, services such as Marketo can be hired to basically take over your form management. These platforms not only manage data collection and analytics, they take care of your lead response process – sending acknowledgment emails, offer fulfillment, etc.

As these services offer a high level of automation, they tend to be pricey and make sense for firms with a high volume of leads, or sell high-ticket items, and/or are highly dependent on web leads for their success.

Insider Form Tracking Tips

  • Avoid using CAPTCHA on forms. Although it cuts down on spam, it causes conversion rates to plunge.
  • CMS platforms may often alternatives to CAPTCHA that have little or no impact on conversion. We use Drupal’s Mollom module, which uses a 50-point inspection to identify spammers, is activated when the user submits the form. If the user is deemed a spammer, Mollum will block it or display CAPTCHA.

Get On Track

As I hope you can see from this post, lead tracking can be fairly easy to set up either internally or with the right partner. One reason businesses fail to do this is a lack of awareness – they just don’t know tracking options exist. A second issue is strategic: businesses don’t always organize a marketing program around their websites, even when their site generates a substantial number of leads. But that’s another post!

Over to You

Are you tracking leads now? What tips do you have for businesses that are ready to start?

Brad Shorr is Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North, a leading Chicago SEO firm. They work with small and midsize firms in a wide array of B2B niches, including truck tracking and machine knitted fingerless gloves.

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