ROI demands data yielding closed-loop marketing

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Paid search marketing via keywords can give your business widespread exposure to the Internet audience, crossing not only the most popular search engines but countless content and destination pages that participate in keyword marketplace programs.

But paid search poses challenges even to seasoned marketers. To provide adequate coverage of a search category, keyword campaigns can extend across hundreds of keyword and phrase combinations, each with unique market appeal. Without proper management and tools to measure return on investment, paid search can be meaningless.

The leading engines that offer paid search marketing are Google and Yahoo. These keyword marketing networks provide basic reporting on keyword performance. That data measure click-through visitors to your site but not conversion of those visitors to lead, prospect or closed sales.

Closed-loop marketing for paid search requires measurement of the complete customer lifecycle, from the first keyword click to sales, support and re-marketing. You cannot obtain that kind of analysis from a simple search engine report. Matching up accounting and sales data creates lag and uncertainty in your business results, and with keyword marketing management being literally a day-by-day activity, lag is something that keyword marketers cannot afford.

You can obtain closed-loop marketing from a campaign management system designed for keyword marketers. Look for a system that ties in with leading paid search providers such as Google and Yahoo and automatically generates unique destination URLs for each keyword combination. Unique URL tracking combined with data of actual sales let you measure profitability and ROI on every keyword combination.

By associating these unique URLs and by extending the keywords of interest directly with a centrally managed client record that is tracked throughout the sales cycle, marketers can draw educated conclusions about the costs and benefits of each component of the campaign. Without this information, campaigns can waste money on keywords that appear to generate more traffic to the Web site but perform dismally at converting that visitor into an interested lead and further conversion to a customer and closed sales.

The rapid growth in paid search marketing has driven marketers to use a patchwork of systems that try to manage campaigns and results, but each serves only one purpose, and reconciling results can be difficult and costly. When keyword results are handed off directly to a complete customer relationship management solution, you can go deeper than short-term ROI analysis - you can begin to discover which keywords attract long-term, profitable customers.

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