Paid search manager Sam Thomas offers up her expert insight into lead tracking and explains why B2B marketing managers should be implementing this to better measure ROI on their paid search campaigns.

Paid Search is an effective way for B2B brands to generate qualified leads, but it can be tough to convert that traffic in a marketplace full of big brands with limitless budgets.

Marketing managers need to ensure that as many leads as possible are nurtured to the point of conversion. This conversion may be a sale, but for many B2B companies, a conversion may also be defined as a contact form submission or an eBook or whitepaper download.

Lead tracking lets you make the most of each and every lead, helping to drive higher conversion rates and optimise on your AdWords ad spend.

What Is Lead Tracking?

At its simplest, lead tracking is about identifying and following up with prospects that have shown an interest in your company, product or service.

Once you have identified who your potential client is, and have discovered more about them, such as location, job title, and other demographics, it becomes much easier to target your marketing message to them, via inbound marketing. This, in turn, will lead to a higher conversion rate.

Why B2B Needs Lead Tracking

When a business is researching another business, they tend to spend a lot of time on research. Once they land on your site, you need to be able to offer them what they are looking for, as well as track their every movement on your site in order to work out what information they need to lead them down the conversion path.

B2B tends to have a much longer lead time than other sectors, but once that form is submitted with contact details, you can market to them in accordance with your strategy – contact and nurture!

So why track every lead? Lead tracking is about more than just counting form fills. There are other important elements to consider:

  • Is the nature of your product complicated?
  • Will the browser want to speak to an expert?
  • Do inbound calls play an important role in your sales process?

If the answer is Yes to these questions, then lead tracking will benefit your business.

Lead tracking helps you discover which of your PPC campaign strategies led to that form fill. What ad messages, landing pages and creative assets entice the most number of leads to click and engage with your site?

Where most B2B brands fall down is in understanding the importance of tracking every lead. Tracking all your conversion points is key. If you think it’s important, measure it.

But if you take this back one step, in order to value a lead and know its importance, you have to calculate your CPL (cost per lead) target. Consider:

  • Do you understand your current lead process?
  • Do you fully understand your conversion rate from lead to sale?
  • What volume of leads do you need to convert to achieve your sales targets?

It’s imperative to factor in the life time value.

Paid Search Call Tracking

Telephone calls are often overlooked as a conversion from a paid search activity. Yet telephone calls have one of the highest conversion rates. Customers appreciate being able to contact a company and talk to someone when it is convenient with them, rather than complete a form to get a call back, when it might not be so convenient.

Paid search call tracking is vital for B2B companies that are unable to offer online conversions, such as service providers, or for businesses who require more information on a product or service before completing a purchase.

By serving up a unique phone number linked to a specific ad creative, call tracking can effectively enable you to track the value of a keyword. This is key to paid search, as every keyword is expensive. Many marketing managers fail to consider the keyword data as part of their optimisation.

Using call tracking can highlight which keywords generate the most conversions (calls), as well as showing which ad messages, landing pages and overall campaigns are performing well.

Most B2B businesses prefer phone calls over online leads because a phone call generally indicates a higher degree of purchase intent from the prospect, and once you engage with them, you can close quicker and with a higher value. But if you are not tracking which keywords generated the calls, you will only be optimising based on your online form fills, potentially reducing bids on keywords that could be driving your calls.

If you don’t have a call centre you can consider live chat – again make sure you track the engagement as this is just as important as a phone call or form fill.

For call tracking, Google has free tracking available, and it’s easy to install. The only downside is it only tracks Google AdWords calls. If you have the budgets, consider Response Tap or Infinity; both enable you to track all your paid search activity, plus organic, direct and offline marketing activities.

CRM Integration

Most B2B sales are closed by a sales team, and it is therefore crucial that paid search B2B campaigns are integrated with your CRM. Have you considered passing variables from your form fill (i.e. source) through from a tracking URL into fields in your CRM associated with a lead? Or looked at mapping through an ID when the form is submitted? Either way, you can pass back the data into any system once sales close (or don’t!) to help you understand the true value of paid search.

If you use Salesforce’s Sales Cloud® to track leads or opportunities or both, then you can import your offline conversions from Salesforce’s Sales Cloud into AdWords. This will help you better measure how your online AdWords investments are generating offline value.

Tracking The Unknown

Sometimes those that visit your site don’t fill in a form or download anything, but you still want to know who is visiting your site and how engaged they are. Do you have a blog or page they visit regularly – this could be a triggered pain point. There are also technologies such as Canddi or Lead Forensics that can help you find out who is on your website.

These tools can help you understand the identity of your anonymous website traffic, and turn them into actionable information of what users are looking for, sales leads, or recognise hot leads to help you engage with returning prospects.

Once you have identified your lead you are ready to start building the relationship. Now is the time to build in an inbound marketing strategy to help nurture your new prospects through the marketing funnel. Read our blog Getting Started With Inbound Marketing to better understand how you can help your leads navigate their conversion journey.

Find out more about our PPC Management services, including lead and call tracking and how they can help your company boost conversion via lead nurturing.

Need to tidy up your entire AdWords account? Make the most of your AdWords account with a full  audit – download our best practice guide to conducting an AdWords audit.

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About the author:

Sam Thomas is an experienced PPC pro. As a paid search account manager, she implements and manages winning campaigns for clients across Google, Bing and other search channels. Sam is also one of the most decorated members of ClickThrough’s PPC team, with Google Analytics Individual, Google AdWords Individual, and Bing Accredited Professional qualifications under belt.