Lead Tracking 101: Understanding Advertising ROI in Salesforce

Most marketers know they need to track their leads, in order to understand which advertising, blogs or social media are sending them the best ones – the leads most likely to convert to customers, to show a positive return on investment (ROI) from advertising, to drive long term revenue.

Aside from all the different technological approaches available, such as building your own tracking mechanism or using a Salesforce application that tracks leads from your web site into Salesforce CRM, the large amounts of data collected can be a somewhat confusing experience.

 This post explores some of the different tracking data available, and more importantly what it all means. It is focused around Google Analytics, Google Adwords, and Salesforce terminology, though many of these definitions will apply to any online advertising.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” — Attributed to John Wanamaker, 1838-1922

 

Google Analytics Campaign Tags

 

Google Analytics Campaign tags are parameters that you add to any URLs pointing to your web site that you have control over. You may be familiar with web addresses (URLs) that have words like utm_campaign= and utm_source= after the main part of the URL and a question mark – these are the campaign tags.

Example:

http://www.MYSITE.com/?utm_campaign=Retarget&utm_medium=Banners&utm_source=Adroll

 When a visitor clicks on one of these tagged URLs, those values are associated with the visitor in Google Analytics, as well as in many lead tracking solutions for Salesforce (such as CloudAmp’s own Campaign Tracker). By capturing the Source, Medium, and Campaigns of traffic being sent your web site like in the example URL above, you can identify the most effective ways to driving more visitors to your website.

Most importantly, by capturing that data not just in your Google Analytics reports, but into Salesforce for each individual lead, you can follow how leads progress through your marketing funnel or sales process.

  • Do leads from that Source, Medium, or Campaign convert from leads into Accounts with Opportunities?

  • What percentage of Opportunities from a particular Source are Closed Won?

  • What is the average and total dollar value of deals, compared across Source, Medium or Campaigns?

  • How many dollars are spent on advertising per dollar of revenue, broken down by Source, Keyword, etc.?

These and many other questions can be answered by tagging your URLs and tracking those visitors all the way  into Salesforce as leads. 

AdwordsGraph

There are the five parameters that make up Google Analytics Campaign tags – utm_source,utm_medium, and utm_campaign should be used in all links, and for tracking additional information utm_term and utm_content can be optionally used.

  • utm_source: Identifies the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property, e.g. google, yelp, newsletter4, billboard. The last place visited before reaching your site.

  • utm_medium: The advertising or marketing medium, e.g.: cpc, banner, email newsletter. The method used to arrive at the source.

  • utm_campaign: The individual campaign name, slogan, promo code, etc. for a product.

  • utm_term: Identify paid search keywords. If you’re manually tagging paid keyword campaigns (and you should be), use utm_term to specify the keyword.

  • utm_content: Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. For example, if you have two different text ads, you can use utm_content and set different values for each so you can tell which version is more effective.

I recommend getting into the habit of tagging ANY and ALL URLs that you control, not just for destination URLs in your Google Adwords ads and other online advertising, but for every link in your email newsletters, links you give to a partner, sponsorships, blog posts, even social media such as Twitter and Linkedin.

 GoogleAnalyticsCampaigns

Not only will this give you better data in Google Analytics and your Salesforce lead tracking, but as a significant bonus you will cut down on the number of untracked leads — when someone forwards an email, copies and pastes a link from Twitter, or reposts a blog post without changing the URLs, you will be able to track visitors from those newly generated referral sources back to the original campaign links.

 

Other Traffic Types

 

Google Analytics categorizes your web site visitors into 5 main types:

    • Campaign: Visitors who arrived at your site via Campaign tagged URLs.

    • Referral: Visitors who arrived at your site from other sites but who were not campaign tagged.

    • Direct: Visitors who arrived at your site by typing in your web address.

    • Search: Visitors who arrived at your site by searching in a search engine. This category is further broken down into:

  • Paid: Google Adwords, Microsoft Adcenter, or other advertising on a search engine

  • Organic: The visitor clicked on a regular result (not an ad) to get to your site

GoogleAnalyticsTrafficBreakdown

Many lead tracking software applications (including CloudAmp’s own Campaign Tracker) have followed this categorization, due to the widespread use of Google Analytics and the general familiarity of these terms. Still, there are a variety of different ways of categorizing web site visitors and leads, so you may see variations on these occasionally.

Referral vs Referral vs Referrer

Any traffic that isn’t Direct to your site (typed in a browser bar) is known as referral traffic. So most traffic – Campaign, Referral, and Organic / Paid Search – is considered Referral traffic.

However, Google Analytics (and lead tracking software that uses similar definitions) defines Referral traffic as any Referral traffic that is not otherwise tracked as Campaign or Organic traffic. If Campaign tags are used, or data from an organic search at a search engine is received, the traffic will be categorized as Campaign or Organic, rather than referral. This is mainly just for clarity in dividing the sources of traffic, so that there is no overlap in the numbers.

Just in case this isn’t confusing enough, there is also a concept of the Referrer in all web browsers, and this is recorded in Google Analytics and various tracking software. The Referrer is the last page that the visitor was on prior to an event (like submitting the web-to-lead form into Salesforce). So in some cases the Referrer will be the same as the site that sent the visitor to you, but in other cases it will simply be the previous page on your web site (for any visitor who clicks around multiple pages before submitting the form).

 

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Beginning in late 2011, Google made a significant change and started encrypting the organic search keywords of any users who were logged into a Google service while searching Google. What does this mean?

It means that instead of sending the keywords from the referral like it did previously, Google started sending a meaningless string of characters for all visitors who were logged into a service like Gmail, Google +, or Google itself while searching and then clicking on an organic result. So what did this result in?

 GoogleNotProvided

Approximately 70% of Organic visitors from Google now show “(not provided)” as the keywords from their search, so you no longer can see what really sent them to your site. This percentage will vary depending on your audience and how much they use other Google services, but it is about the average we have been seeing.

Luckily, Yahoo and Bing have not followed suit, and still send the keyword information from the Organic search visitors they send to your site. And of course, if any of your visitors run a Paid Search on Google (Google Adwords), the keywords from those visits still come through fine whether the visitor was logged in to Google services or not.

 

Untracked

Sometimes visitors come to your web site and submit lead forms and are not tracked properly. It shouldn’t happen often, but it will happen.

On the Internet, nothing is 100%, the numbers never match exactly, and not everything will be tracked completely. While we’d like to track 100% of visitors in an ideal world, really the point of tracking is to make generalized decisions about what online marketing works and what does not, and optimize spend on things like Google Adwords, where sometimes keyword cost per click (CPC) rates can seem nonsensically high, but make perfect sense from an ROI perspective given the revenue generated.

 So what causes a lead to not be tracked? Some users may be using strange old web browsers, or have their browser security levels set so high that they don’t allow cookies or javascript (two things necessary to most tracking technology, as well as required for most web sites to work properly).

For most other situations however, the reliability of cookie-based tracking is pretty good. If there are technical problems, they are more likely due to either the visitors settings or a failure of the tracking mechanisms that read the cookie, rather than the cookie placed at the time of the visitors click.



In conclusion, there is a lot of terminology around tracking and how to break down the types of visitors who come to your site (and hopefully become leads). As you start to build up data from tracked leads inside Salesforce, you will run across many of the values above. So hopefully this has been helpful — feel free to leave questions / comments below, and above all else, start tracking your leads today!

Tracking Google Adwords Results in Salesforce

This post explores a simple way to see Google Adwords results inside of Salesforce, using Google Analytics Campaign tags. To set up custom campaigns, just add parameters (for example, utm_campaign and utm_source) to the end of your advertising URLs. Custom campaign values display in your Google Analytics reports, and you can capture them into leads in Salesforce using a tool like the Campaign Tracker for Google Adwords and Analytics.

You will be able to see which URLs visitors click to arrive at your web site and then become a lead, and which Adwords Keywords they searched for. As a bonus, if you get into the habit of tagging all incoming URLs to your web site, you will have better visibility not just into your advertising, but into any content or links you put out there — blogs, social media, sponsorships and more. Everything except Organic search engine traffic and some referral traffic can (and should) be tagged.

 

Adding Campaign Tags to Your Adwords Ads

  1. If you have Adwords autotagging enabled, please disable it (it can cause conflicts)

    AutoTagging

  2. Update the Destination URLs in all your Adwords ads with the campaign URL parameters.

    1. If you have a lot of ads, you can use the Adwords Editor client program to easily update / duplicate many ads at once. Adwords Editor makes it easy to copy / move items between Adgroups and Campaigns, and make bulk changes very quickly.

    2. Note that whenever you make changes to your ad text or URL, they are sent back to Google for review. Rather than modify an existing ad, you may wish to create a new one so that the existing ad keeps running while your new ad is under review. Once the new ad is approved, you can delete the old ad if you want.

    3. Redirects can also cause issues with Campaign tracking and Google Adwords attribution, so Google recommends updating the actual Destination URLs in your ads, instead of using a redirect.

GoogleAdwordsEditor

Example URL:

http://www.YOURSITE.com?utm_source=GoogleAdwords&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=CampaignTracker&utm_term={Keyword}

  • utm_campaign = Adwords Campaign Name

  • utm_source = GoogleAdwords

  • utm_medium = PPC or SEM (keep consistent with whatever categories you have defined)

  • utm_term = {keyword}

  • utm_content = optional parameter, commonly used for adgroup tracking

 

For tracking specific keywords, use Google’s keyword insertion format in the Destination URLs of your Google Adwords ads. utm_term is the Google Analytics campaign parameter for the keyword, so use utm_term={keyword} and Google will automatically insert the keyword that triggers your ad into the URL, so it will be tracked when a visitor clicks through to your site and submits a form.

Note: This same URL format and {keyword} insertion works in Microsoft AdCenter as well.

Google provides a URL builder tool which you can use if you would like, but you can also simply copy and modify the URL above. There is no need to create the campaigns in Google Analytics ahead of time — when a visitor arrives on your site from a Campaign tagged URL, the campaign data is automatically recorded.

URL_builder

Once you have tagged all your Google Adwords URLs, then you simply need a way of integrating the tracking data into Salesforce. I am partial to the Salesforce app we built here at CloudAmp, of course,  Campaign Tracker for Google Adwords and Analytics. But there are plenty of other solutions to get Adwords data into Salesforce, including marketing automation software like Marketo  or Hubspot.

If you are not using web-to-lead forms, but have an account signup process or eCommerce system, then you may want to have your developers capture the campaign tags from referral URLs directly into Salesforce via custom code. One thing you cannot use, sadly, is the popular Salesforce for Google Adwords, which is being end-of-lifed (shut down, in software-speak) on May 1, 2013.

However you decide to go, tagging all your incoming URLs with Google Analytics Campaign parameters will allow you to track Google Adwords results, as well as the success of other advertising and marketing efforts, directly inside of Salesforce.

New Version of Campaign Tracker Released

CloudAmp released a new version of its Campaign Tracker for Google Adwords and Analytics last week. Version 1.6 was launched on April 4, 2013 to address several major feature requests from customers, as well as inquiries from the increasing number of companies who are looking for a replacement for the Salesforce for Google Adwords application. Salesforce for Google Adwords (SFGA) is being shut down on May 1, 2013, so customers currently using it to track Google Adwords results into Salesforce need to find an alternative tracking application.

 Google-Analytics-Campaign-Tracker-Header-b

New Organic, Referral & Direct Tracking

Now you can know the source of every lead directly in Salesforce. The new version of Campaign Tracker  tracks Google Adwords and Google Analytics Campaigns via campaign tagging, plus adds in Organic, Referrer or Direct visitors to your web site. A second dashboard and more than 10 additional reports are included in the new version, to help you make sense of trends in the new data provided. The addition of organic tracking was particularly important to many customers who were replacing Salesforce for Google Adwords with the Campaign Tracker, to provide an equivalent level of Adwords tracking in the transition.

 

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Simpler Implementation

Implementation of the Campaign Tracker outside of Salesforce has also been simplified, and requires only a single line tracking code be added to the pages of your web site. There is no file to host on your site as the tracking technology is now called remotely from a high performance content delivery network (CDN). Best of all, changes to your web-to-lead forms are no longer needed.

 

Best Value

Campaign Tracker for Google Adwords and Analytics costs just $49 per month per company, with no per-user or per-lead fees. In addition to being the most affordable tracking application for Salesforce, there is a 15 day free trial, during which assistance is available from CloudAmp at no cost, if you have questions or need help setting up or testing the application.

 

GetItNow
Try it Free Today >

 

Upgrades

Current customers interested in upgrading should contact us to discuss the easiest way to update  the app in Salesforce and implement the new code on your web site. Existing cookie code and earlier versions of the app will continue working without interruption however, so we are glad to discuss each individual customer situation and help you decide whether or not you would like to upgrade.

6 Challenges with Tracking Adwords Conversions in Salesforce

With the impending “end-of-life” of Salesforce for Google Adwords, I thought I’d dive a bit deeper into some of the challenges for tracking Google Adwords lead sources into Salesforce. Regardless of whether you choose a tool from the AppExchange or build your own integration, here are some of the considerations that are not always front and center.  

 

Getting Enough Data

Many companies are running thousands or tens of thousands of keywords in Google Adwords, but only receive tens or hundreds of leads a week. If you don’t have a high lead volume, and a portion of your leads are from sources other than Adwords, it can be a challenge to build up enough data for the results to be meaningful.

For example, your company may find that it has a few keywords with multiple leads, but that the “long tail” exists in your tracking as well — large numbers of keywords with one or two leads. In these environments, it is very common for it to take months to build up enough tracking data for it to be actionable. You will eventually have plenty data, but don’t expect this to come within a month or two, so best to set everyone’s expectations up front.

AdwordsLongtail

The best time to start tracking your lead sources was 6 months ago. The second best time is today, so don’t put it off any longer — get lead tracking for Adwords set up today.

 

Eliminating Waste vs. Optimizing Performing Keywords

Related to the challenge of collecting enough data is what kind of actions you are able to take and when. The reality is often a bit more complicated than the idealized promise of being able to optimize all of your Google Adwords advertising, where every keyword and bid is delivering the perfect balance of revenue without overbidding or waste.

As you are collecting data, you may find that you have a number of keywords with one or two leads attached to them. Are these valuable keywords, or just clicks that became leads by chance? Only time and more data collection will tell, as leads go through the conversion to opportunity and close process so you can relate those click costs to revenue as well.

AdwordsGraph

In the early stages of your Adwords tracking in Salesforce, focus on eliminating waste. The low hanging fruit you can easily take action on without months of data should be keywords that produce tons of clicks with no leads, as well as keywords that produce lots of leads that never convert. This is the waste that is poorly aligned with your products or services, and is the first area where you can confidently make changes based on preliminary data.

Eliminating waste will improve the efficiency of your overall Adwords spend and lower your cost per lead. As you continue to collect tracking data, you can then start to optimize bids, broaden your keywords, or make other optimizations based on more complete data.

 

Focusing on Wrong Metrics

For me being able to understand revenue / keyword inside Salesforce, instead of relying on CPC or CTR metrics, to be the primary goal of tracking Google Adwords results into Salesforce. Of course, understanding the trends across all of your metrics, CTR and CPC included, is important. But all metrics are not created equal.

Track-the-Most-Important-Adwords-Metrics

How critical revenue / keyword tracking is will vary depending on your business of course. If you only sell one product at a single price, it may not be as important — the sale amount and lifetime value of most customers is the same, so you are mainly optimizing the demand volume side of the equation. But if you have multiple pricepoints that vary significantly, a more expensive click that typically drives a large purchase can be far better than a more affordable click with an average revenue that is lower.

This importance is only multiplied if you are bidding on very competitive keywords. Bidding $25 or even $50 for a single click always seems painful, unless you can track those same clicks through to significant large purchases on a consistent basis. What seems crazy without tracking can be shown to make financial sense and drive significant revenue when properly tracked.

 

Picking a Source of All Truth

Where do you store your Adwords tracking data? Do you use Salesforce, Google Analytics, or both? What about duplicate / conflicting data?

I am partial to making Salesforce the single source of truth, but of course I build Salesforce applications to centralize data there. Google provides some great tools, especially considering many of them are free / advertising supported, but those systems are not designed to be a long term database, nor are they as customizable as Salesforce is.

Silos

One advantage to centralizing Adwords tracking data in Salesforce is that the data can be (potentially) useful to others outside of the marketing department. Sales reps might be interested in what keywords a lead was searching for, to better understand their intent. Or if you don’t want to expose that data to the sales team, you could still use it to drive lead scoring formulas that determine how views are sorted or which leads are visible to the sales team.

A corollary to the “single source of truth” is that to keep yourself sane, you should accept that if you use multiple systems, the numbers in different online tracking systems will never agree exactly. Even the numbers between Google’s different systems don’t match. As with other marketing metrics, it is the trend and the consistency that is more important — as long as the numbers are close enough, focus on any divergence or suddenly larger gap between different analytics systems, as that could indicate a problem.

Poor Lead Hygiene / Salesforce Processes

Another common challenge to tracking Google Adwords (and other online advertising) conversion in Salesforce is poor data quality and a lack of consistently followed processes for handling data. Duplicate leads, no consistency across the sales organization for when leads are converted to opportunities, and custom fields that don’t map anywhere upon conversion are all common issues we see with Salesforce usage that affect campaign tracking.

FindDuplicateSalesforceLeads

With so many systems integrated into Salesforce, and marketing automation systems increasingly inserting their own databases into the middle of things, we also see lead sources that get lost or overwritten, and a lack of proper reports / dashboards to give a holistic picture of the data.

If you are embarking on a project to track your Google Adwords or other online marketing leads in Salesforce, try to make data cleanup and process improvements part of the job. You’ll end up with better data and a higher likelihood that you are making decisions based on accurate data as a bonus.

 

Not Having Correct Tools

Finally, we come to the tools you use to get your Google Adwords data into Salesforce. Some companies have their web developers or engineers build a system to push this data into Salesforce. And if you have an eCommerce system or Account signup (instead of a lead process), custom building a solution may be your only real option unfortunately. But many of us don’t have development resources at our disposal, or the engineering team is too busy on customer-facing product development to work on internal marketing tools.

For those using standard Salesforce web-to-lead forms and processes, there is a new generation of tools available like our (CloudAmp’s) Campaign Tracker. Installable directly from Salesforce.com’s AppExchange, these tools can add in additional information like where a lead came from, what keywords they searched for, and more.

Google-Analytics-Campaign-Tracker-Header

Most importantly, this information becomes a permanent part of the lead record in Salesforce upon the form submit, so you can track those values throughout the lead lifecycle and see conversion and revenue data. Now you can get real ROI data on Google Adwords and your other marketing and advertising efforts, and know in detail which keywords or placements produce your best leads.

Despite the challenges, now is the time. So don’t wait any longer, start tracking your Google Adwords and other advertising lead sources into Salesforce today. Eliminate waste wherever possible, and reallocate funds to the top performing advertising, and your revenue and cost of sales can improve significantly.

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