Oh, the coveted click. It’s traditionally been considered the Holy Grail of the Internet, and marketers have spent millions in search of clicks. Google made billions by providing them. The legendary dot-com bubble was fueled by an ever ballooning belief that eyeballs (really clicks) were a source of found wealth.
But today’s smart marketers know that you can't bank a click. Clicks aren't reported on the balance sheet, in the annual report or to Wall Street. Your CFO doesn't care about clicks. Neither, for that matter, does your CEO. And your VP of Sales is just humoring you when he tells you how great it is that your Web site received a million click-throughs from e-mail. The reality, my friends, is that clicks by themselves are meaningless.
What really matters? Revenue. And unless you're selling advertising like Google and getting paid every time someone clicks on a link on your Web site, clicks don’t represent revenue – the process of exchanging goods and services for negotiable currency.
Many businesses are spending big bucks to drive traffic to their Web sites: placing tiny ads on Yahoo, Business.com, and Google; buying banner and text ads; and using social media. It’s all in an effort to garner clicks. We do it, spending north of $10,000 per month – and that’s pretty modest for a company our size. How much do you spend?
And here’s a better question: What are you getting for your money?
Sure, it’s gratifying to measure clicks to your Web site. And if you use Google analytics, Omniture, or one of the other Web-tracking packages out there, you can tell yourself interesting stories about which pages are most popular, how people walk through your Web site, and which pages precipitate an abrupt departure. But does all that truly measure what you get for your search engine advertising? Nope.
But there’s a better way. A new model is evolving, one in which marketers track and measure not pay-per-click, but pay-per-close. This approach analyzes how your Internet marketing efforts translate to real business. Clicks still matter – but it’s what the click leads to, not the click itself, that counts.
Here's how we track pay-per-close at Eloqua.
When someone clicks on a keyword on Google and lands on our Web site, we start tracking their behavior (using our own product, of course). We don't yet know who they are, but that's fine because right now, we don't mean anything to each other. The prospect doesn't care to hear from us and we don't know that they are even interested in what we’re offering. We're just providing them information and passively observing their behavior, like an attentive shopkeeper watching someone browse his inventory.
However, when a person signifies interest -- by downloading an eBook, viewing a demo, or signing up for a newsletter, for example -- we take the opportunity to approach and engage them. "Can I help you find something?" we ask them. And they tell us, through their behavior, what they're interested in.
At that point, we can tailor our communication. "I see you're interested in deliverability," we can say to them. "Did you know that we have a full-time deliverability officer who maintains relationships with the major ISPs and spam experts around the world?" And now we're engaged in a digital conversation with them.
Throughout the course of that conversation -- which can last days, weeks, or longer -- we're always remembering what they did before and modifying our message like any good conversant. Oh, and we record every campaign they respond to, from first click all the way through to close of business.
Why is this more effective than tracking simple clicks? Because when the revenue comes in, we can now credit our search advertisements, social media efforts, or other sources of clicks with the actual amount of cash they contributed to our top line.
And that's a conversation that our CEO likes to have. It's one that our CFO can engage with. It's of interest to the Board and to Wall Street and it makes the VP of Sales authentically happy.
So instead of getting excited about clicks, think about changing your approach. Track the metrics that really matter. Using the pay-per-close approach is a better way of measuring marketing's contributions to the organization.