More lessons in lead tracking

When we’re working with customers and explaining what needs to happen in order to effectively track their leads, they’re usually looking for that silver bullet – for the one thing they can grab off the shelf and say, “Do this for me”. But it’s not that simple. Lead tracking does require a level of custom development and know-how to do it successfully.

Some have developed that knowledge over time. Maybe, for example, you’ve learned the hard way. Once upon a time, you had no idea where your leads were coming from. But now, if you’re a savvy marketer, you’ve started to notice that when you click on a sponsored link in an ad, say on Facebook or LinkedIn, that the URL has a whole bunch of stuff in it that looks like tracking codes. And you can start tagging – and tracking – your content. Another good way to learn about what’s going on in lead tracking is to look at some of the big players, such as Mashable or Wired and emulate how they do it. Slowly, you can begin to piece together the puzzle and understand, “Okay, if I click on that link, what they’re hoping is that I convert somehow, and those tracking codes will be part of my customer profile in their system forever”.

The Goliath that is Google

Then, of course, there’s Google. Google has a system of attributing the source of a website visitor to a campaign, because Google is first and foremost an advertising company – that’s primarily how it makes its money. And the company has a very powerful, sophisticated analytics platform: Google Analytics. If you advertise your company on Google, you want to be able to see your analytics – how your ads are performing. So Google has developed the fundamentals of these lead-source-tracking techniques using parameters that live in the URL when you click on an ad. And you can adapt that system to be able to send that lead sourcing into your own marketing-automation and CRM platforms.

Marketing must

This is fundamental to your digital-marketing activities today. You’ve got to know how your efforts are performing. And the only way to do that is to ensure that you attribute the original lead source at the point of conversion and that that information flows all the way through your CRM system and is forever attached to that lead. So that one day, when that lead becomes a customer, you can attribute all the revenue that comes from that customer all the way back to that lead source. It’s absolutely critical to the marketing puzzle.

Non-website leads

You also need to keep in mind that sometimes leads come into your system that don’t flow in through your website; surprising though it may be in this day and age, in theory, it’s still possible for someone to pick up a phone, ring your company, and say, “I want to buy one of these”. Or a customer could come to you through an event or as a referral from another happy client. Your system needs to be able to account for those other channels, too. It can be really tricky to attribute a lead source to these scenarios. You can easily create a process so that, were someone to call you and say, “I’d like a demo of your offerings”, you’ve got an online form that allows the person taking the phone call to make note of it. The system, which involves Marketo, SugarCRM, and Matrix, can attribute the lead source to the phone number that the customer dialled.  

You can even go to the extent of having a phone number dynamically generated based on an inbound link. Say you search for ‘Squiz’ on Google and you click on a sponsored link. When you arrive at our website, the phone number could be dynamically generated so that our systems know you clicked on that Google link. So even though you make a phone call, we can attribute it back to that paid link. Or say you click on a LinkedIn ad for a Squiz whitepaper. The phone number on our website might be different from the one you’d see if you just came organically to our website. That number would link back to that ad, so that even though you pick up a phone, we know, based on the phone number you’re using, that you found us by way of that ad.

Then, of course, there are the leads that get into the ecosystem from the sales folks’ direct cold-calling efforts. In that case, the sales team must also enter them into the CRM so they can attribute those leads to the cold-calling activity.

The moral of the story is, it’s about tracking activity across the company – at any touchpoint.  

What systems do you have in place to track leads from other channels besides your website?

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