5 Powerful Conversion Tracking Tips

I’ve got great news!

You know that statement “50% of our marketing efforts are working we just don’t know which 50%”? Well it turns it the stats are much better, depending on which research to believe the actual amount wasted on marketing might only be 30% or 40% - awesome!

Wasting money and time on marketing is a problem that impacts on every business and in this article I’m going to show you 5 ways to get better data about your marketing efforts to enable you to make more educated decisions that reduce this waste.

While reducing waste is great, I believe there is a bigger opportunity here for businesses who truly go the extra mile to understand their data and use it to drive their decisions. And so do others much smarter than me:

“The amount of digital data being produced today is growing exponentially… Those who become proficient in collecting, managing and analyzing this information will gain competitive advantage.” -INTUIT 2020

Further, I believe that very few small businesses are doing it (16% according to this report).

And I know why – because it’s hard.

Setting up a website? Easy. Setting up AWeber? Easy. Setting up Google Analytics? Easy.

But really taking the time to analyse your marketing efforts, working out which campaigns are performing and where to best spend your time – hard… in most cases.

And as a keen proactive business owner who is out to improve your website conversion this should be music to your ears. Because ‘hard’ means there’s an opportunity.

Here are 5 powerful ways you can track your marketing and in turn reduce waste and separate your business from the rest…

1. Advanced Custom Segments in Analytics

I’ll assume you have your website setup with Google Analytics installed and you have identified a ‘Goal’ and you are doing some conversion tracking. I’ll also assume for any online campaigns like paid advertising etc you are using ‘Campaigns’ so you can compare their performance.

But this doesn’t capture the whole story. For one thing not every piece of marketing you do can be captured in a campaign – because campaigns require trackable links and you don’t always have control over the link.

For example, if I was to visit a bunch of marketing blogs and start commenting on them how do you think the blog owners would respond if I put a giant trackable link for my URL on each comment? Or any URL different to my main homepage?

This is the case for a lot of online efforts like posting in forums, profile links in places like twitter etc.

As a business owner, you need to know where to direct your time and money and you can only do this by getting a high level picture of all of your marketing strategies, how much traffic they are sending and how they are converting.

Here are 2 charts from my dashboard app Web Control Room that show my various high level strategies, how much traffic I am getting from each and how well they are all converting.

As you can see it’s very easy for me to see where I should be focusing my attention. This chart covers absolutely every marketing initiative I am using for the launch of Web Control Room. As an example ‘AWD Advertising’ is a deal I have with a blog owner where I give him content and he gives me a free add. As you can see, while the conversion rate is high, there’s simply not enough traffic for this to be worth it. I might as well focus on creating content for other high traffic blogs where I can get a lot more traffic.

If you want to learn more about how to set up Custom segments you can check out my article on Google Analytics Advanced Segments (they’re kind of tricky).

2. Customer Value by Referrer

Not to totally bag out Google Analytics but there’s another fairly big problem with only looking at their standard data.

Google Analytics doesn’t know ‘people’, it only knows ‘visitors’ and it doesn’t keep a history of purchases. For this reason you can only really see which strategies are sending you the most initial purchases (or signups or whatever you are tracking). Long term customer value is completely excluded and this is potentially a big problem.

If you are relying on Analytics you don’t know where your best customers are coming from!

Depending on your business, there are a few ways to deal with this.

SAAS apps

Since my business is a SAAS app (software as a service) I have installed KISSmetrics which doesn’t just track ‘visitors’ it tracks people. So I know who is logging into my app, I know what they are doing when they are in there and I know what they have done in the past. I can look at a report that shows me how they found my site for the first time and what they have done since (did they upgrade etc).

I can see not just where my visitors are coming from but where my best long term customers are coming from. If you believe 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers, it makes a lot of sense to focus on your top customers and look to double down on the sources that sent those customers.

eCommerce stores

If your business is online sales then there are potentially 2 ways you can access this powerful data:

  1. Use Kiss Metrics – There’s no reason you can’t do what I have done above and track your people and the actions they are taking on your site.
  2. Ecommerce platform – A lot of ecommerce platforms will be able to tell you who the referring sites are and they will also have the whole history of purchases so you can achieve the same thing as above.

Offline businesses

If your business is offline, tracking these metrics purely online is not really an option. This is where a CRM can help.

This always requires a bit more work because it means getting accurate accounting data into the CRM and accurate information on lead sources etc. This may even be a lot of manual work but without it you are guessing and wasting money.

3. Offline Campaigns

Offline campaigns are a bit trickier than online ones because you can never fully control what people click on and track them. But with a bit of ingenuity you can often achieve the same thing.

Bigger businesses will have large marketing initiatives designed to build ‘awareness’. This kind of vague measure is difficult to track but usually smaller companies will be looking at a more direct response type initiative where they are wanting people to take some sort of action immediately. This is much easier to track.

If that response is to call a number you can use phone call tracking to track specific numbers so you know which campaigns resulted in calls (and if you are diligent recording the whole cycle in your CRM you can see which leads to the most long term customer value).

For an online response, you can have a specific page on your site or even a specific domain just for the campaign (this will minimise the chance of people just going to your normal homepage). You can then either track the visits to the specific domain or if you are using a sub-page you can set up a 301 re-direct to a trackable Google Analytics URL.

The advantage of this, particularly if you can send traffic to the same site with a trackable link is you can measure this marketing initiative right alongside your other online marketing initiatives and make informed decisions about where to focus.

4. Product Metrics

Whenever I think about marketing the first thing I think about is product. I really believe that the best thing you can do from a marketing point of view is create a great product or offer a great service. Long term this will lead to the best form of new leads – word of mouth, which are free and will naturally scale as you grow the business. So think about ‘product’ as a marketing strategy and make sure you are doing specific things to improve your product and these things are tracked as marketing initiatives.

If you recall my table from above on my marketing strategies. One of mine is ‘Natural product coverage’ this is because I’m actively trying to improve my product in response to feedback and I’m making sure that places that matter find out about the product. Even before I’ve launched this is one of my top sources of conversions. The better the product, the more likely it is to get traction in blogs and sites that list apps like mine etc.

For your business it might be a totally different metric. Here are 3 things you might want to look at

1. Stickiness

One good measure for a product or service particularly one that is designed to be used regularly is stickiness. With my app for example I want people to be logging in regularly to view their stats. If they aren’t doing that then the product isn’t good enough.

So I measure how many times the average user logs into the app in a week and I try to increase this number. I use Kiss Metrics for this as you can see in the chart below.

You can see people on average log in 2.5 times per week and it’s up 10% from last week. I put this down to a bunch of new features released during the week so I’m learning that releasing new features that people like is increasing the stickiness of the app.

But even if you are an ecommerce store or an offline business you can do something similar. As long as your product isn’t a one off type product then you can measure how often people are returning to your service, or how they are using your service / product and come up with a number that you can try to increase. The more this number goes up the better your product is and the more likely they are you recommend it to others (and stick around and become a good long term customer).

2. Customer Data

Customer surveys are another way you can get useful customer feedback. Tools like Survey Monkey can be used to email customers or you can use website based tools like Qualaroo to survey users live while they are on your site.

While not everything can be quantified, I like the idea of having one metric that you can keep an eye on for your product so you can track it over time and be able to see how changes in your offering impacts on this number.

3. Net Promotor Score

Net promotor score is an example of a quantifiable score that you can use to measure how well your customers are receiving your product. It specifically asks the question “How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?”

It can be asked with additional questions or free text of course but the raw number that comes back (your net promotor score) can be a useful measure of how much your customers like your product.

The other good thing about it, is it’s fairly well adopted around the place so you can find reports that show you the scores given to other companies which can provide a rough benchmarking guide (see benchmarking reports).

I wouldn’t worry too much about benchmarking against other companies unless you have data that is specifically from your industry. However I do think it’s a great idea to measure it  on an ongoing basis to see how changes in your product or service are impacting on the overall score.

There are many ways you might choose to measure how good your product is, the important thing is you consider this to be a part of your marketing and you actively try to improve it as a way to building a long term, scalable and affordable marketing strategy.

5. Analytics Goal Values

If you are like most businesses, the goals of your website won’t be quite as simple as ‘selling product a’. You might want people to sign up to a newsletter, you might want them to download an ebook or any number of different actions.

If this is the case then just simply defining a few goals and conversion tracking isn’t really going to be that useful to you. Because the goal of ‘making a sale’ is much more valuable than the goal of ‘getting an email opt in’ for example.

This is where goal values come in. As an example let’s say you know through analyzing your metrics using the techniques above that the lifetime value of an average customer to you is $1,000 and you know that on average 1 out of every 1,000 email subscribers end up becoming customers. You can then allocate a value of $1 for an email opt in. This way you can use this number to make reasonably educated guesses on your marketing ROI and you can now compare different goals with a monetary value.

If one marketing strategy is sending you 15 email opt ins a month (worth $15) but no sales then it’s going to have good ‘conversions’ but it’s not as beneficial as the marketing strategy that sends you 1 customer (worth $20) for example.

This is not an exact science because again Google doesn’t know people and doesn’t know lifetime value but it nonetheless can provide you with data that is much better than the average business owner has.

Who’s doing it?

In my experience only highly tech savvy sophisticated small business owners are doing all of these things and as a result they are enjoying less wastage and higher chance of success. What about you? Are you measuring these things? Or are you tracking other powerful marketing metrics that weren’t on my list?

Dan Norris is the founder of Web Control Room a free tool that gives tech savvy business owners and marketers a simple report on the performance of their business. The app talks to popular services like Analytics, PayPal, Xero, Mail Chimp etc and simplifies the information into a 1 page live report available via the web or mobile.

Comments

  1. Mike Kawula says

    This was great and I’ll definitely be checking out Web Control Room and Kissmetrics as that 80/20 I question in my business and I don’t have that data the best. Thanks great content.

    • says

      Hi Mike

      Good stuff, Kiss Metrics rocks I’m a big fan particularly if you have a SAAS business like me or something where people are giving away their email address.

      Glad you liked the post.

  2. says

    I’ve been researching about how I can track my marketing and this post has been extremely useful. Will definitely be bookmarking and referring back to this!
    Thanks for the great content Dan!

  3. Chimezirim Odimba says

    I can only say, “wow!” Since 80% of my results will come from 20% of my customers, it’s important that I find out where the 20% are coming from. Now, I have a resource that points me in the right direction — Thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    Hey Dan,

    thanks for a really interesting read.

    I am a big believer in what gets measured gets improved. However, I don’t think that means we should be running around measuring everything.

    My take on stats is to use only those stats you know are measured well, so for that reason (and maybe admittedly also a little bit of laziness) I only use very basic stats from Google Analytics. Even then, these are mostly ‘vanity metrics’.

    In terrible danger of sounding really over simplistic – in terms of my marketing stats, the most important one from a business point of view is how much money you are making versus how much you are spending. If you track these two things well and understand them, the more detailed/sophisticated stats may just take care of themselves…

    e.g. how important is it really to define & track goals in Google Analytics and is the mechanism reliable enough to provide high quality data?

    • says

      Hi Alan, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I love that you’ve taken the time to write a detailed comment however I disagree with every one of your points.

      First off I don’t agree that what gets measured gets improved. A lot of what gets measured isn’t actionable. If you are looking at your overall website traffic but you know nothing about that traffic, nothing about how they found your site, what they are doing on the site, who they are etc then you won’t improve your traffic by measuring it – because it’s not an actionable measure. I would say that accurately measuring something that is actionable makes it possible to manage and therefore possible to improve.

      In relation to vanity metrics as above I would go the other way. Actionable metrics don’t necessary have to be difficult to measure. Referrers would be a simple example. Look at how many conversions you are getting from a specific referral sources can give you information to take action – i.e. double down on your efforts from that source or go to another source etc. There’s not a lot of point in measuring things that aren’t going to change what you do as a result of the measurement.

      In terms of your example, this is more of a cashflow issue. It isn’t actionable really because you don’t know why you are making the money or what you are spending the money on and you don’t know what will happen in the future. Cashflow is obviously important but it’s not a way to measure and manage a company’s growth. It’s more a way of making sure you stay afloat.

      Your metrics should be telling you why you are making more or less money and what particular activities are contributing the most to it and that’s where I think you need to get a bit more technical with the metrics. It might be as simple as looking at your top customers in your accounting system or your top referrers in your CRM or whatever. But just measuring whether you are making money today really doesn’t tell you much about whether you will be tomorrow.

      Re analytics goals, if you are making any effort to generate traffic to your site I would say you are wasting your time if you aren’t tracking goals in Analytics. You have no idea how targeted these visitors are, no idea what they are doing, whether they are becoming customers or opting in. If you aren’t making a specific effort to drive traffic then perhaps I’d agree that it’s not important (I wouldn’t but I’d be closer). But surely taking 5 minutes to set up goals to help you know whether your visitors are actually potential customers is a no brainer.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      • says

        Hey Dan, thanks.

        … but I think you misunderstood my comment rather than disagreed with every part of it ;-)

        With the what gets measured gets improved comment I meant it as a general philosophy though I agree with your comment back and I think you’re actually agreeing with the 2nd part of that statement there – i.e. I don’t think that means you should go off measuring everything.

        Referrers is one of the simple metrics I would use (occasionally) from Google Analytics, just because I think they reliably measure that, though I’m not chasing traffic so don’t check it regularly.

        In terms of the cashflow stats, it is simplistic as I said with my caveat, but on the contrary I do believe it’s those statistics which are important from a business sense, if you have a sudden jump in cashflow, then you should understand exactly why that just happened, if you don’t then you don’t understand your business! That was more my point – plus in the case that you didn’t understand, then would be the time to do a more detailed analysis. I did say you need to understand these core numbers, not that you’re just watching them idly.

        On the point re: goals, I wanted to know from you how reliable these are as a mechanism from Google in terms of quality of the data but I guess that just means I need to go find out more about how to set these up.

        Thanks for the reply Dan,

        take care & best wishes,
        Alan

        • says

          Yeah I think people can get carried away with metrics for sure. Agreed re cashflow.

          Analytics is quite accurate but one of the downsides is Google doesn’t know who the person is on your site (or at least they don’t tell you). So if you have a system where people can log in, Kiss Metrics is great because you can specifically look at who they are and track their behaviours over time. This is very important for recurring businesses because their first transaction may not be the most important. i.e. Analytics can track when they opt in but Kiss Metrics can track how much they are worth to you long term.

          Having said that if you aren’t actively generating traffic to the site then there’s less urgency to track the traffic. Analytics goals are pretty simple though and I think even just creating an opt in and tracking that is a worthwhile step most of the time.

  5. says

    Danny,

    I love your blogs.
    They are always loaded with so much practical information.
    This one is fantastic.

    I did not find any mention being made about the power of Video based content. After signing up for your program, I singed up with Steven Washer for Videos blogging.

    Thereafter, I intend signing up with KK Smarts for SEO.
    Next agenda would be to learn about analytics.
    I am glad to be on this journey of progressive learning.
    Sadly I have not begun to get any returns on all my investment .
    Any suggestions there?

    Regards
    Shekarsan
    Thought Catalyst.

    • says

      Hi Shekar, thanks for your comment, and your enthusiasm!

      I don’t know why you aren’t seeing any returns on your investments, because I don’t know what the challenge or bottle-beck might be.

      If you like, send me an email with more information, and we can try to figure it out. :-)

      • says

        Killer site Shekar. One thing would be worth testing is some opt ins around your calculator. A few options:

        1. Enter your email to be sent a PDF report. I did this with a client in the past and got good results.
        2. Have a super simple version that people can do within seconds directly on the homepage. Then on the results page prompt them to try out the more complex version – perhaps grey it out with their details pre-entered and they have to enter their email to active the advanced version.

        Great looking site anyway.

  6. says

    Wow, I just stumbled on your site by accident, but I must say that this is a very good read! Thanks for sharing these tracking strategies. I myself, as a consultant often use Google Analytics (often solely), so these other things are definitely worth a try. If I may ask, how long have you been using KISS Metrics? I’m a follower of the Patels, but I’ve never tried out their products, although I know it’s really good.

    • says

      Hi John, I’ve been using it since I started my startup about 3-4 months ago. I’ve only just turned on our paid plan and haven’t launched to the public yet so I’m still working my way up to some really meaningful stats. But already I have a good pictures of number of active users, how people are using the app, conversions free to paid etc. I’m loving it.

  7. says

    Wow, now that is a post! Really well written, clear and concise with your points and most important of all, you cover a topic that too many of us (myself included) do not spend enough time on.
    I speak with passion for the same reason I love this post – because the day I started analysing every single thing I did was the day I started making money. Funny how that works hey ;)
    Thanks Dan and Danny for sharing, definitely will be recommending this to my readers.

  8. says

    In our Online business Career track marketing is very important. When I was get this news in my inbox. I read title. I was very happy after reading this article. I got some useful and valuable information in this article. thank you very much sir, sharing this article on this web. keep it up :)

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