How's Your Backend Looking?

While optimists are hoping for economic recovery to begin soon, advertisers across all channels are desperately awaiting signs of the slightest uptick. All advertisers continue to scrutinize their marketing dollars during the present economic situation; however, many of these advertisers focus solely on a simple cost-per-lead goal and, consequently, rely on this arbitrary goal as a true gauge of performance. The result? No matter their heightened scrutiny, these advertisers are falling short.

The temptation to narrow your performance focus can be compelling. After all, performance junkies like to live in a world with concrete and statistically valid data. Performance ambiguity is the enemy, and so these advertisers grasp at what they know to be true. They are comfortable dealing with a preliminary cost-per-lead because they have either ruled it out for some reason or simply not even considered it. No matter the cause, if you do not intimately know your lead-to-close rate down to the creative type, media placement or keyword, then you are doing your lead program a severe injustice.

All too often, advertisers think they have a good solution in place and that they are adequately tracking performance at a given level; however, tracking by channel simply isn't good enough, and even "good enough" doesn't cut it when trying to stay afloat these days. You have to excel in your tracking efforts in order to maximize and optimally appropriate advertising dollars.

One of the biggest challenges in implementing a more granular level of acquisition cost tracking and analysis is the demand on resources. Sure, you definitely have to prioritize your needs, but this is a pretty big one that you cannot afford to neglect. Even when your initiatives are performing above and beyond your goals, you have to ask yourself, "Could my performance be better?"

As marketers we understand the 80/20 rule, but often it is more of the 90/10 rule when your program is under-optimized. Let's put the top of the funnel away for a moment and strictly look at backend acquisition. If 90% of your closes are coming from 10% of spend, then you may just have a serious problem on your hands. Understanding the tradeoff between volume and efficiency is important; however, the majority of corporate executives would take a 10% loss in volume when it means reducing costs by 90%, especially when there is another channel that could afford to spend more.

Call centers and lead times definitely challenge marketers running lead generation programs, but patience and persistence can get you to a more clairvoyant backend, which ultimately allows you to make better marketing decisions within an individual channel and across your initiatives as a whole. Clients of all sizes and business types have successfully implemented tracking to get to these granular data points, and you can, too.

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