Measuring Success After The Click

Avinash Kaushik speculates that Bounce Rate might be the sexiest Web metric ever. Scott Brinker has a whole blog dedicated to post-click marketing.  I believe it was Craig MacDonald at Covario who said bad landing pages are where good leads go to die. And I've been quoted as saying (categorically, no less) that the single most important thing we can do for the client happens after the search click.

Start Swimming Downstream

It always amazes me that search marketers spend huge amounts of time tweaking everything to do with the search page and very little time worrying about what happens downstream from it. It's symptomatic of the siloed nature of search, a marketing practice that sits apart from other channels and the online user experience itself. Yet, what's the point of a good search campaign if we end up dumping all those leads onto a poor Web site?



Perhaps the reason we don't spend more time worrying about user experience is that it forces us to learn something about the user. You have to take responsibility for connecting the dots between intent and content, reading the user's mind and trying to deliver what it is he or she is looking for. When it's all said and done, maybe it's easier just to worry about maximum costs per click or generating more link love.

But everything that matters starts with the search click rather than ends with it. That's the first introduction to the prospect, the first opportunity to make a good impression. And from that moment on, the success of that blossoming relationship depends on the success of the user experience.

Post-Click Live at Captiva

 At the Captiva Island Search Insider Summit in a few weeks, we'll actually be talking about the world of opportunity downstream from the click in a panel I'm very excited about. "After the Search Click" will be a live, clinical look at the success of the onsite experience. Enquiro is even bringing our eye tracking lab down so we can do some on-site testing and share the results with the group. The aforementioned Scott Brinker from Ion Interactive and Lance Loveday from Closed Loop Marketing join me. I've had the pleasure of sharing a stage with both of these gentlemen multiple times in the past.

Students of Human Nature

 To me, the immense gray area of the onsite experience has always been infinitely more interesting than the more black and white tactics of search marketing. For me, the latter is simply the means to an end, and the end requires you to be a student of human nature. For example, I'm fascinated by the subtle but distinct differences between how males scan a page and how females scan it.  Or the difference in behavior between those who grew up in the online world versus those who have adopted it and adapted to it as adults.  And if I showed you the heat map of a visitor who went to a Web site with one specific task in mind, as opposed to those who are just there to browse, the difference would astound you. But how often do we stop to think of these things as we put our search campaigns together? All too often, those leads are dumped on a generic home page or an anemic landing page with nary a scrap of relevance to be seen anywhere. Of course, even a good landing page is no guarantee of success. It's just one more step to the end goal, a journey that could be cut short by poor site search tools, bad navigation or an overly inquisitive form.

I could make a blanket statement saying I see far more bad sites than good sites out there. But really, that's not for me to say. The success of a site depends on the people using it and what their goals are. It should be a clean, well-lighted, well-labeled path.  I can say, as a frequent online user, it's very rare that I'm impressed by a web experience. So in that regard, there's much to be said still about improving the post-click experience. Join us for the discussion in a few weeks in Florida.


9 comments about "Measuring Success After The Click".
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  1. David Honig, April 23, 2009 at 12:52 p.m.

    Hey Gord, While I agree with many of your thoughts. I couldnt disagree more with your opinion that Search is the first introduction to the prospect, the first opportunity to make a good impression. Very much far from the truth. In Fact for many brands that buy both display and search, I would argue that the display " impression" is the first opp to make a good impression. Search focused pros like yourself tend to discount that many well targeted display campaigns are driving search queries leading to the click. Atlas ad server is weighting those impressions so brands can now give credit to certain display placements rather than give search all the credit. I think you may be surprised how much of an impact display actually has. We have seen all the studies in the past on positive impact of both display and search. Something leads someone to search, I dont wake up in the morning going to google to randomly search without something triggering my need to search. My point here is that Search is not always the first impression, weather first, last or indifferent, I agree that that User experience is key, and what a marketer does to constantly improve experience wins.

  2. David Honig, April 23, 2009 at 12:57 p.m.

    oops ... I am thinking too much of the great weather we are expected to have here in NYC this weekend. I meant on the previous post " whether " not weather

  3. Gordon Hotchkiss from Out of My Gord Consulting, April 23, 2009 at 1:39 p.m.


    Point very well taken. I shouldn't have said "first" introduction. Your points are completely on target.

  4. Mandy Vavrinak from Crossroads Communications, LLC, April 23, 2009 at 2:32 p.m.

    "Yet, what's the point of a good search campaign if we end up dumping all those leads onto a poor Web site?" oh, how I've preached this... ! Getting people to your site *is not* the goal... converting them to clients/buyers/believers is. Hope your message reverberates throughout the Web.

  5. Anna Talerico, April 23, 2009 at 3 p.m.

    Great article Gordon! I am so happy to see post-click marketing coming center stage—converting clicks goes hand in hand with driving clicks. When marketers pay attention to the post-click experience their conversion rates can soar.

  6. Jeffrey Ogden, April 23, 2009 at 4:29 p.m.

    Hi Gord,
    Could not agree more that the process -- the experience is where it happens. Most SEOs talk SERP position -- an ugly acronym if ever there was one. And getting the click buys you very little. You have to close the sale.

    All the best, Gord. You can also check out my new website at


  7. Kurt Johansen from Johansen International, April 23, 2009 at 9:10 p.m.

    Gord, you have opened an interesting conversation. The measurable point for a businesses bottom line is the conversion rate and the cost to obtain this conversion. Every thing in between reverts back to the Sales Cycle'
    1. Create the Interest
    2. Overcome the Objections
    3. Close the Sale

    Nothing has changed for centuries except the media we use.
    Cheers Kurt - Australia's Email Marketing Guru

  8. Stephen Cobb from Monetate, April 24, 2009 at 10:17 a.m.

    Gord -- Excellent article. You said several things that needed saying. I was particularly pleased to see you use the term "the siloed nature of search."

    Although we live and breathe "post-click" over here at Monetate, we work with search folks a lot. When that work goes well, the results are great. When you sync up search and post-click it almost always produces terrific lift numbers.

    Yet I still encounter some search folks who suffer from 'silo syndrome' and don't seem to 'get' what post-click can do for the sales cycle. Maybe it's because search is so focused on the numbers while post-click necessarily includes a hefty slice of old-fashioned creative merchandising, namely the crafting of messaging and promotions that produce the most lift in targeted segments.

    Maybe it would help search folks to know that post-clickers are also heavily into the numbers. We do a lot of traffic analysis and pore over massive tables of click stats to discern on-site behavior and how best to tweak it. We then blend what have discerned with the client's own take on how best to increase conversions, average order value, revenue, etc.

    That's where the art of personalization comes into play, a process firmly rooted in numeric analysis but ultimately creative in its crafting of just the right marketing strategies to light a fire under those under-performing segments of site traffic. Traffic for which everyone is grateful to the good folks in searchland.

  9. Lisbeth Kramer from Identities, April 24, 2009 at 12:06 p.m.

    BIG TIME BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!! As a passionate integration specialist and a strong soapbox on EXPERIENCE, it is wonderfully that you bring together the VALUE of technology, data and emotion living together in one place. To that I add the consistency of that engagement and identity not only occurring on the web but at every touchpoint with a slight tweak to best mold to that platform. And I feel validated that someone in your arena of expertise clearly believes that there are few good sites out there.

    HOWEVER, I strongly agree w/David Honig..his very last line. and Im w/you too on the WEATHER in NYC, DH.

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