Jun 26 2008

Recognizing the Value Beyond the Click to Conversion

Category: conversion rate optimization,generalJon Davis


The Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA) held their monthly meeting last night. The topic of the night: recognize the value of online marketing efforts beyond the simple click to conversion metrics that are so common in our industry. The truth of the matter is search is responsible for much more business than it gets credit for in traditional models, it’s extremely important as a branding tool and it can be used as a powerful tool to track offline marketing efforts.

For instance, when someone performs a search and finds a product they would like to purchase they may not necessarily purchase the product online, they may actually go to the store and buy the product but the search they performed online does not get credit for the sale. The importance of leveraging search engines for branding is also something that is very difficult to measure but has a major impact on how people view a company’s product. Seeing a company at the top of the search results creates a trust for the brand. Also, analyzing website statistics can be a great way to test whether or not an offline mailing, radio ad, TV commercial, etc. was effective at driving traffic to the site and increasing purchases.

Here are some highlights from the three presenters:

Ron Belanger, Yahoo! – VP Agency Development

According to Yahoo! research-

– Searchers online considered 2.5 brands before making a purchase, as compared to only 1.8 brands considered by offline purchasers. This means that searchers tend to be less brand loyal and tend to focus more on what they want as opposed to what brand they want.

– 38% of people believe that a brand is quality and trustworthy if they see their ad or listing in the first page of the search engine results even if they don’t click.

– 79% of people said an online search introduced them to a brand that they previously didn’t know about

– 58% of people said they looked at a site that they didn’t plan to because it was near the top of the search results

The point is you don’t have to be a giant corporation to garner market share online. Searchers are curious and open to new brands of products because they believe that top results = credibility.

Raku Coryne, Google – East Coast Manager of Search and Analytics

Raku talked about the importance of creating actionable insights from quantitative data. Here are some key points:

– Bounce Rate is a very important indicator metric, if a pages bounce rate is high as compared to other pages of the site the chances are it needs some major adjusting. The problem could be on page content or the traffic is not being targeted correctly.

– Long-Tail Keywords need to be addressed when trying to drive traffic to the site. People are no longer searching for “car” they are searching for “blue car atlanta georgia”. Searchers are getting more and more specific so you need more and more pages on the site which address these more detailed searches. One incredible stat she gave was 25% of daily searches on Google are brand new, never been searched on before phrases. This means that a site has to be properly optimized so that Google can identify them as a worthy place to send these new searches.

– Measure offline efforts with online reporting tools. Many national brands run radio ads in certain cities and then compare online results with cities where the ads were not run to measure the effectiveness of the ad.

– Websites can even be used to collect important information about the website itself through exit surveys. An exit survey is presented when a visitor leaves the site. Using one of these surveys Wal-Mart found that 54% of the people leaving the site intended to travel to a Wal-Mart and make a purchase in person as opposed to online.

– Use online analytics to drive decisions. Raku said that setting up a test between two homepages and then seeing which homepage resulted in the most conversions is a much better way to determine which design to use as opposed to one person’s opinion. Raku pointed out that usually decisions are made within organizations by the HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) as opposed to letting the actual consumer determine the best course of action.

Jason Fisher, 360i – Group Director

Fisher presented some more basic ways of tracking online efforts to offline purchases and vice versa. Fisher also touched on how to validate online efforts to clients.

– Present the visitor to your website with down-loadable coupons that they can redeem offline and track the ratio of downloads to actual purchases. This can determine the “drive to the store” effectiveness of a website.

– Another way to track offline efforts is to have some sort of ID or promotional code that the consumer can enter into the website at the time of the online purchase. The amount of sales that result from these efforts as compared with the ad spend will help to determine if the offline effort was valuable.

– Fisher stressed the importance of routinely showing his clients hard data and setting new goals based on the data.

Overall, the meeting reinforced the idea that there is no way around the fact that search and search marketing will continue to become a larger part of companies marketing budgets and the need to get efforts started soon is critical before you get left behind.

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