One of the most difficult parts of setting up a successful PPC management project is working with a client to determine the metrics to measure success in their campaign. Many advertisers are still working in environments where they spend blindly or don't know the full impact of their spend on sales. In fact, I was recently talking with a former colleague who said that he is generating leads for his sales team but he doesn't have any idea whether they are good or bad leads.
There are really two problems here that need to be addressed during a PPC management project. First, on the web site side of the equation there have to be clear measures of success. A lead or sale are the easiest ones to measure but we also have clients who are trying to influence public opinion where just getting a visitor to spend a minute on the site could be a success. Conversion tracking is the platform used to provide feedback to the advertising investment. There are several common conversion tracking platforms that we use in a PPC management project. Google offers a standalone conversion tracking tool as well as Google Analytics. For lead generation businesses we use Salesforce.com conversion tracking tool and Google integration. Many off the shelf e-commerce platforms integrate with Google or provide their own. We've used Monster Commerce, Volusion and even open sourced platforms like OS Commerce for conversion tracking.
Once there is a metric defined, the next PPC management goal is to use the conversion tracking feedback to optimize the campaign. Our PPC management projects always focus on maximizing the conversions within the targeted thresholds. The conversion rates allow us to calculate a cost per order or return on ad spend at the keyword level. We bucket the conversion costs and organize our campaigns so that our clients can turn up or turn down their cost per conversion tolerance depending on monthly acquisition hurdles. Now the second part of accurate conversion tracking really only applies to sales that are started online but completed offline. PPC management projects for e-commerce projects are easier to measure return on ad spend because the transaction happens online. Scenarios like my buddy's above is where you have to get creative.
In an offline transaction that is typically handled by a sales team, you must know the source of the lead and the final outcome of the lead. This is where something like Salesforce.com or another CRM platform is very helpful in providing conversion tracking for a lead but also for final sales. Lead generation marketers need to pull reports from their sales team and work through the source of leads and conversion rates. This information can be used to feed back into the PPC management and adjust the cost per lead thresholds. If you are using Salesforce.com this is all built into their application.
Adam and I recently built a custom conversion tracking system for PPC management with larger enterprises who have their own back office or call center platform. Our API integration with Google allows us to systematically add campaign attributes to the destination URL. We then worked with the client to capture our encoded campaign information as part of their online lead capture. They then send us a daily feed which we can automatically import and decode the source information back to the keyword and spend. We've setup the system so that we can use it for any PPC management project where offline transactions need to be measured.