As the fall marketing "season" gets underway, now is a good time to propose some simple and free ideas for tracking web leads.
In many businesses today, the way to create sales leads is to run a variety of marketing activities, which drive prospects to a web site. Once a prospect clicks through to the web site, they fill out a form to identify themselves and their needs. If people fill out the form and answer the form questions, you can potentially get a treasure trove of data about your marketing programs. For example, you can ask questions such as "how did you hear about this offer?" This kind of feedback is extremely valuable, since it helps you know where to focus your marketing efforts going forward – i.e. what is working and what isn’t.
In my experience, however, people rarely fill out the forms and when they do, the information is often incomplete and inaccurate. So if you are running an integrated campaign with several touch points (e.g. webinar, published articles, blog posts, email blasts, etc.), how can you know what activities were more effective than others? There are hordes of consultants who will sell you services to analyze this type of information, but for young and small companies, I have found that a few simple tricks are usually good enough and offer decent feedback. Here are some ideas:
- For each marketing activity, use a different "virtual" link for the web landing page. For example, if someone clicks through on an email you sent them, the link will take them to a web form, but it will identify the source of the prospect as an email recipient. If they click on a banner ad, the link they select identifies them as coming from a specific ad. The landing page form the prospect sees in both cases is exactly the same, but because they were directed from different sources, you can identify whether the email or ad is generating more leads.
- Extend the previous method to test your marketing messages – for example, randomly send out mail to your email list using multiple marketing messages. Each message drives the email recipient to a different landing page. This way, you can see which messages are driving more traffic to the download page. Of course, the same idea can be used for testing multiple messages on banner ads, print ads, white paper postings – pretty much any marketing outreach activity.
- Use Google Analytics (or other similar services) to track where your web site visitors are coming from. Once registered, you will be able to analyze how many people hit your web site, which page they viewed initially, and how long they spent on the site. While many web visitors are hidden behind their ISP IP addresses, you can still identify a large number of corporate visitors. This can be a boon when you are targeting specific prospects – you can see how many people from the prospective company responded to your outreach.
While not 100% scientific, these methods are often good enough to understand where to focus your efforts. And note that these methods are all free. While it will take a bit of work to set up the web forms with multiple links, it is an amazingly inexpensive way to understand how your marketing efforts are working.
I would be happy to get feedback on other simple methods that are working for you.