By Hayley Gurtler, Media Manager
A digital advertiser is like a performer that spins plates in the air; you have to be able to focus on multiple components at once without missing a beat, or the entire operation can come crashing down.
Digital advertising involves looking at data and digital assets on a broad level while simultaneously analyzing each component on a detailed level to determine which parts of the campaign can be improved to produce the desired results. This back-and-forth, cause-and-effect game can seem daunting, but by understanding what metrics and factors are most important to the process, you will be able to make informed opinions about the results of your digital campaigns.
With all of the metrics being discussed these days, it’s easy to lose sight of what is most important: the number of leads that result from your digital advertising efforts, and the amount it costs to acquire each lead. However, while the number of leads and cost-per-lead are the ultimate focal point, there are a lot of factors that can impact an organization’s ability to generate qualified digital leads at the lowest cost-per-lead possible. For this reason, it is important to consider how metrics like impressions, clicks, click-through-rate (CTR) and cost per click, keyword match types, are impacted by your digital strategies including target audience, calls-to-action text, and the design of your landing pages.
Understanding Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Digital advertising companies that just report on impressions, clicks and CTRs are not providing you with the full picture. While a high CTR often correlates with significant conversions (leads), this is not always the case. A CTR is determined by dividing the number of ad clicks by the number of impressions that the ad received.
For example, if a keyword triggers an ad to show up two times and one person clicks on the ad, the CTR for that ad would be 50 percent. This sounds like a great CTR number, but the reality is that only one person clicked on the ad that linked to your landing page. What about the rest of the picture? What happened after the person arrived at your landing page? Did they leave the page before filling out your form, or did they become a confirmed lead? Unless the person filled out your form and became a lead after clicking on the ad, you just paid for a non-lead (although you can still market to those that didn’t convert through your remarketing campaign). This is why it is important to also look at form completion rates.
Click-through rates should not be entirely discounted because they most definitely have a purpose. A low CTR can indicate that keywords are triggering your ads, but your ad might not be relevant or enticing enough for the searcher to click the ad. In this case, you would want to determine if you need to refine your target audience, geographic settings, keywords and match types, or if your ads simply need to be reworded. If your CTRs are high, but your form conversions are low, then there is a chance that your ads are enticing to searchers, but something about your landing page is not desirable or relevant enough to prompt the searcher to fill out the form and become a lead. In such a case, an advertiser will need to determine whether or not the landing page text and layout matches the call-to-action of the ad that drove the searcher to the page.
Therefore, certain metrics act more like indicators of what needs to be improved rather than definitive results. Metrics like impressions, clicks, cost per click, and CTR should be reported upon, but should not be your main focus because they are simply half of the digital lead generation equation.
How Leads are Generated: Conversion Rate, Keywords, and More
When it comes to digital lead generation, we often look at lead generating conversions (the number of people who have completed a form), conversion rates and the cost per conversion. Some agency reports may report conversions as leads that visited a particular page, such as a website home page. However, combining visit-related conversions with form-completion conversions can be misleading when looking at how leads were generated because a person does not necessarily become a lead each time he or she visits the home page. This can make it seem as though your conversions are much higher and your cost per conversions are much lower than the actual number of quality leads you received and what it cost to acquire them.
If your end goal for utilizing digital advertising is to generate leads, then I recommend splitting out the different types of conversions, so that you are able to identify the number of actual leads generated from a particular ad, or from a particular page on your website.
With this in mind, achieving a low cost-per-lead and a high number of form conversions is not always desirable. For instance, if you optimize your campaigns to the point that they begin to generate a steady stream of leads, but 95 percent of the leads are unqualified, then more is not always better. By adding negative keywords to your digital campaigns, you can prevent your ads from showing to searchers who are likely looking for something that is irrelevant to your particular product. Adding clarifying copy to your landing pages can also help weed out searchers who might not be viable candidates for your retirement, assisted living, skilled care, or memory care community.
Negative keywords and clear-cut text on your landing page will help your daily budgets last longer, but may also result in a lower overall number of conversions. However, fewer conversions can be ideal as long as a large proportion of them are qualified. A lower number of conversions might also result in a higher cost-per-conversion, but digital advertising is almost always the most cost-effective form of advertising when compared to the more traditional forms of advertising.
What all this information points to is that simply “setting and forgetting” a digital campaign can be risky and ineffective. This is why it’s important to regularly explore the details of your campaigns. The exact formula for a successful digital advertising campaign is complex and takes time and an educated effort to develop. However, by paying attention to how different metrics work together, and how they can serve as indicators of the strength of your ad campaigns, you should be able to increase the number and quality of leads for your community.
To learn more about digital marketing and pay-per-click advertising best practices, please contact Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013 or Rick Hunsicker at 214-906-3801.