A common challenge shared by most B-to-B marketers is how to improve lead quality—especially from paid search campaigns. Because B-to-B companies often face longer sales cycles than many e-retailers, how can B-to-B marketers effectively evaluate and improve paid search campaigns to increase return on investment? Here are six steps to improve lead quality from paid search campaigns:
1. If you don’t have a CRM system, get one.
CRM systems, like Salesforce.com, provide two major benefits: First, they store sign-up information from Web pages in a single repository, and second, they allow marketers to track lead data through the sale and beyond.
2. Put the keyword into your destination URL strings.
For each destination URL in your paid search campaign, add a variable to the end of each string to track the keyword. For example, if your destination URL is http://www.abc.com, add a variable string like this: http://www.abc.com/?k=keyword, replacing “keyword” with the actual paid search keyword.
3. On the landing page, set a cookie for the keyword.
4. Using a hidden form field, populate the CRM system with the keyword upon sign-up.
On the sign-up form, pull the data from the keyword cookie into a hidden form field. This allows you to enter the keyword into this lead’s record in your CRM system.
If you have not yet done so, you also may need to add a custom field to your CRM system to retain the keyword on each lead record. Unless you use a marketing automation system, there are two other important notes on CRM tracking setup:
- You also may need to implement a deduping tool for your CRM. Deduping tools ensure that if a lead responds to multiple campaigns (such as paid search, organic search, e-mail, events, etc.), the lead will not be duplicated in the CRM system; rather, the existing lead record for that person will be updated in the system.
- You also have to decide which keyword is most important to track. For instance, if a lead responds to two separate paid search campaigns, which keyword is most important to you—the first or last keyword the lead searched before it became a sales opportunity?
5. On a regular basis, run reports from the CRM system to evaluate sales data from paid search campaigns.
Once campaigns have been running with the new tracking in place, regularly pull four main reports from your CRM system:
• Leads from paid search—By understanding the quantity of leads from paid search, you can determine how many true conversions you’re receiving from your campaigns. While conversion tracking in the search engines is good, it’s often not foolproof, sometimes overcounting conversions. Understanding the true number of leads you received from paid search helps you understand your true conversion rate and cost per conversion.
• Opportunities from paid search—Not all leads are qualified and become sales opportunities. So the next evaluation step is to understand the number of opportunities (or qualified leads) coming from paid search. Additionally, review the keywords that drove the most opportunities—these are your star keywords. When making paid search account changes, consider ways to ensure that these words receive a higher percentage of the media budget.
• Deals won/deals lost from paid search—Of course, true ROI doesn’t come from leads but rather from closed sales. So to measure paid search ROI, you need to review the opportunities you won as well as the opportunities you lost. Which keywords drove the highest quantity of sales and the greatest revenue? Which keywords appear most in the lost opportunities?
Like with the opportunities, consider restructuring the account to ensure that the keywords that appeared most in the deals won receive a greater share of the budget than other underperforming account keywords. Also, if you begin to see a monthly trend where certain keywords continue to appear exclusively or primarily in opportunities lost, consider removing these keywords from your account. This will help shift more of the media budget to better-performing keywords versus allocating some portion of your resources to underperforming keywords and phrases.