Synchronized Online Tracking: The True Key To Increased ROI
It is also important to understand that until recently, the quest for accountability has focused primarily on giving full credit for a conversion event to the last consumer interaction, or "last click." While this approach might seem straightforward and logical on the surface, rather than solve a marketer's tracking needs, it has created a sizable and costly problem.
So what's the problem?
The problem is that the marketers acknowledged the interrelation of the marketing channels, but not necessarily the interdependence. In other words, it's one thing to passively recognize that your marketing channels interact with each other, but another to realize that they can't win without each other.
This has led to the errant reduction, or elimination, of some critical marketing expenses that are used to "fill the sales funnel" and drive demand in the first place. Sooner or later, there won't be any accounts at that stage to focus upon. Ultimately, the "last click" marketing mindset has led to flawed marketing strategies and wasted budgets.
So what's an online marketer to do?
First here's what not to do--do not continue to track your programs separately. If you haven't begun to track your online programs in unison, then you need to start to as soon as possible. The risk of not doing this is much too large to ignore in terms of ill-informed strategy, errant budget allocation and, ultimately, job security.
Now, more than ever, it is critical for marketers to move to a single, comprehensive platform to accurately track conversions, view consumer interaction data from ALL online channels, and ensure their brand messaging is relevant across all the channels.
Once you make the decision to move to a single tracking platform, it's also important to make sure you are taking advantage of all the available channels. The conversation to date has centered on display advertising and paid search, probably because they are the two largest categories of online spend. However, to focus only on those, to the exclusion of the other channels, is a major mistake. For instance:
• E-mail--Research confirms that E-mail remains the most popular online activity. And from a marketing standpoint, it represents a foundational piece of a powerful program.
• CPA/Affiliate Programs--Ecommerce and lead-based marketers rely heavily on affiliate or other cost-per-action programs to minimize blended acquisition costs. Yet if these programs aren't tracked in conjunction with the others, unnecessary commissions are paid, in effect wasting valuable marketing dollars.
• Organic Search--Recently there has been a significant resurgence in SEO due to the rising costs of paid search, and the realization of the power of this investment to drive typed-link traffic, which is very budget-friendly for marketers. To ignore this approach in consolidated traffic is to ignore one of the online marketer's most valuable tools.
The benefits of synchronized tracking are considerable--true understanding of the ways that different programs conspire to deliver your desired result, a more cohesive marketing strategy, greatly reduced risk, increased ROI, and more relevant creative messaging, just to name a few. To get you started, below are a few simple checkpoints for you to review when speaking with possible tracking partners:
• Does their system currently track all online channels (at a minimum, display advertising--including rich media and video, paid search, organic search, affiliate/CPA programs and email)
• How long have they been tracking across all of these channels? (Do they provide a proven, established system?)
• Does their system allow for tracking and synchronizing offline activity in addition to online?
• What size and complexity of clients have they worked with on these programs?
• What "best practices" can they provide to help you get started?
The key is to start. With the proliferation of advanced tools for tracking, managing and driving optimal results for all your marketing programs, why wait?