Don't be tricked by your Web analytics results

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Brian Lewis
Brian Lewis

Every day, online marketers make bad keyword decisions based on perfectly good Web analytics data.

When a prospective consumer visits your site from your PPC ad, instead of ordering on your site or filling out an inquiry form, they might call to ask for more details about your services, or perhaps place their order over the phone. The percentage of call-in sales will vary based on the prominence of the 800-number, the product price and the relative complexity of the product or service sold. Since call-in orders do not go through your Web page, your Web analytics are blind to that conversion.

That blindness will pass through to your analytics reports and understate keyword conversion rates and return on ad spend (ROAS), incorrectly bloating your cost per acquisition (CPA) metrics. Without the full picture, your keyword strategy might be counter to your goals and objectives.

Fido Pet Supply, Inc. might have a target CPA of $26 and a ROAS of 300%. But, for its important keyword phrase “pet sup­plies,” its Web analytics report: 100 orders with an average order value of $75, or $7,500 in sales; click costs of $3,000; a resulting CPA of $30 and an ROAS of 250%.

Since neither of its target metrics is being met, it would want to find a way to reduce advertising costs for that phrase, and try to lower click costs by bidding that phrase down. But, by factoring in its phone orders from customers who clicked on its ads, its bidding strategy may be completely different.

Assume it receives 17% additional call-in orders from “pet supplies.” Since its sales reps up-sell and cross-sell to those callers, let's assume that the average order value for its call-in sales from PPC ads is 20% higher than online orders. Factoring the call-in sales offers more accurate data showing that both target metrics have been exceeded: 117 orders with an average value of $90 equal $10,530 in sales, and click costs are $3,000 — resulting in a CPA of $25.64 and an ROAS of 351%.

Call analytics solutions automatically track call-in leads and sales by area — campaign, search engine and keyword — by serving unique 800 numbers on your site that track each area. A suite of reports is available to you showing call-in sales, date and time of sale and revenue amounts. The only implementation involved is the placement of JavaScript tags on your Web pages.

By adding call analytics, you can optimize top spending PPC keywords that appear unprofitable based on your Web analytics. Plus, you'll be able to maximize the value of your search market­ing spend by knowing which keywords drive your call-in leads.

Brian Lewis is VP at Engine Ready. Reach him at


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