Ask the Experts | How to Track Digital Conversions

Question: How should we track digital conversions?

Gary Elekes; Founder, EPC Training:

I like the question, because it actually assumes that we need to track digital conversions, so that’s the first really cool part about that question.

Digital conversions are easy to track. Google makes Google Analytics available [free] that can be installed as a baseline dashboard on all websites. It doesn’t matter if it’s a really basic website or it’s a Ferrari-style design. Google wants you to track the conversions; they’re interested in you spending more money. That’s their whole business model, so they’ve done a nice job of building that.

A more sophisticated web provider will probably have a customized dashboard, and that dashboard will probably go to further lengths to track, you know, cost per lead, and segregate where those leads are coming from. So for example, email marketing is a place that we have that’s a very separate type of a medium, even though it’s digital and it’s part of the database of the company; everything is linked back through the dashboard system so that a digital conversion on, say, an electronic drip campaign is tracked separately. So how many clicks? What was the click-through and conversion ratio? At some point hopefully we actually sell something to somebody, so we want to track that as well.

Social media, obviously, SEO – which is the organic searches – paid search, you might have Bing, you might have Google, you might be doing remarketing. With big data now, we’re able to track all of Wally’s web habits and history. So anything he does and touches we can grab ahold of that information through big data and ultimately feed him back a remarketed ad that represents keywords, if we were in that space.

I was in Philadelphia giving a keynote speech and I was joking around that when I turned 50, the AARP people had me on the database and, essentially, I started getting Viagra calls on my cellphone routinely. And I’m like, “I don’t understand why this is happening” – and of course it’s big data. They’re tracking that your birthdate is X, and as soon as I cross over that birthdate I start getting calls from pharmacies in Canada. And all you have to do is click on a website anywhere and that cookie is placed there. So the purpose of the conversions and tracking that is based on the idea of segmenting your digital space. Google will help you do that, but I think your provider needs to be the next level up, which is tracking those independently.

I’ll also suggest that currently there are some pretty cool innovations going on in lots of different technology spaces. One of them is the artificial intelligence tracking, call-scoring and identification system. So we’ve pretty much built our own, but it’s out there as well and different companies will market different products. But essentially if someone calls in, we’re recording that call but we’re also transcribing that call for keywords. We’ve told it the keywords such as “maintenance,” “service agreements,” “ESA” – you know if you call your club “ESA: energy service agreements.” Whatever the words that are installed in there, all of that is recorded, tracked against an algorithm that’s then built, and scored. So if the score of the call is 85 or greater we’d say, “Hey, that’s a nice call, we did a good job, we don’t really need to worry about that.”

But if the call was 84 or less, we would flag that, the script would get printed and sent to the owner or service manager of the business or multiple people, and there would be immediate opportunity to debrief on what happened on that call from a conversion point of view.

So, artificial intelligence on your call-tracking and call-recording system is something that a lot of companies don’t offer – it adds some cost to the technology – but if you’re spending money on marketing and you’re out there trying to create a lead, I think you want to know that if someone actually called you, that in fact it’s useful and worthwhile.

So I think that you not only should track your digital conversions, but you should track the elements or media where those conversions are from, you should score them on cost per lead, and I think you have a responsibility, as I do as a contractor, to look at the actual transactions that occurred and ask, “OK, what’s the measurement there?” Cost per conversion, cost per sale, cost per gross profit, so forth.

I could spend an entire day on answering that question and going into a lot more detail, but I think the general consensus from my point of view is definitely get into Google Analytics, definitely have your own customer dashboard if you can, definitely move forward and track those analytics. The future of the media is basically going to be 100% digital at some point, it’s just not that far away.

In 1999 Bill Gates predicted everyone would be walking around with a personal device, and within 8 years the iPhone was out and now pretty much that’s what we use in order to do most of our searches; about 65% of searches worldwide are being done through the mobile devices. That’s not going to change [from a negative standpoint], it’s only going to accelerate, and the big data systems that are out there are real. I literally can put information on your Instagram that quickly if I have access to your web/URL browser history, which I have if I place a cookie on it if you visited my site. So essentially I can tell you an awful lot demographically and psychographically about yourself.

So tracking the digital conversion, to me, is how you’re going to learn in your business how your money being spent is actually being useful as we move away from traditional media such as direct mail. It’s just not going to be that long before email marketing substitutes. If you have email addresses already I would be using the digital side of that instead of the paper side of it. A lot of companies don’t, even though they have it.

So the last element of this question would be to prepare better in your operational and marketing practices to become more digital. And what that’s going to do for all of us is give a lot more accountability to your money, more accountability to the agency you’d be doing business with, and just a lot more focus.

Pretty cool question.

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