Special Report - Search Engine Marketing
For online retailers, this process is fairly rigorous, explains Wehr. They must keep a tight rein on cost per acquisition (CPA) and ROI for their SEM programs. When it comes to B-to-C organizations that aren't selling products online—say a publishing firm with an ad-supported site—it's a little less critical to calculate these metrics to the penny. Instead, these firms tend to focus on branding, conversion rates and number of leads generated.
The measurement process also is a little different for B-to-B firms, says Wehr, as the longer sales cycles in this sector makes it difficult to track how the online component impacts future sales. In this case, she advises B-to-B firms to track what they can, particularly cost per lead, how many leads convert to sales, the clickpath for these online visitors, etc. For example, the clickpath can tell you which visitors took a needs-assessment survey, qualifying behavior that might lead you to offer visitors different whitepapers based on their survey results.
At its most basic, SEM analysis boils down to measuring clickthrough and conversion rates, says Jeffrey K. Rohrs, president of Optiem, an interactive marketing agency in Cleveland, Ohio. Where it gets sticky is determining the value of behavior other than sales. For example, he asks, how do you value a catalog request, which can be a costly type of activity?
Some behavior you won't be tracking for leverage, but rather to eradicate it. "[Marketers] need to be monitoring click fraud and making sure traffic coming into the homepage is progressing past the homepage," says Wehr.
The When Factor
"The problem with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising," Wehr points out, "is you can be chugging right along and meeting your goals … and then someone new can ride in … throwing your numbers way out of line. That's why it's so critical to manage PPC campaigns with a magnifying glass. If companies are running PPC campaigns on auto-pilot, they're likely not getting as much as they can out of the return."