When a business invests resources into online ads or improving its Search Engine Optimization, one question that often gets asked is, “how is this improving sales?”

This is where things get a little tricky. Often a direct ROI isn’t immediately apparent, and depending on who’s making the marketing strategy decisions, this may or may not lead to the discontinuation of investment in this particular strategy.

Looking for a return on your investment is perfectly legitimate, of course. The key is to ensure that you’re asking the right question in the first place. Or, if you’re the one expected to have answers, to adequately explain exactly the reasons for your focus on paid ads or SEO.

These activities are associated with the top of the sales funnel, and are all about lead creation and awareness generation among your audience. Sales, on the other hand, happen at the bottom of the funnel. Meaning, if you’re running analytics reports on your paid ads or search engine performance, the reports you’re generating are looking at things relevant to the Top of the Funnel, like keywords, impressions, and clicks.

You can’t judge the effectiveness of an SEO and/or ad campaign by looking at metrics out of context. In analytics, content and scope are everything when it comes to interpreting data correctly.

That’s why you have to ensure that you know how to connect the data between the reports at the Top of the Funnel and the Bottom of the funnel.

Because what you’re most interested in is ROI, the first thing you’ll want to do is identify what events you need to track across your channels such as your website, email marketing, and customer relationship manager (CRM) and assign values to those events.

After you’ve done this, even when you’re looking at Top of the Funnel-type reports like keyword performance, clickthroughs, etc, you’ll be able to add a segmentation to these reports that gives you their relative performance relative to your goal value. If a particular keyword or paid ad is leading to many more events such as form completions, requests for proposals, or actual sales, you should be able to see this. From there, you can adjust your strategy toward the version that works more often for each event.

One important thing to keep in mind is that even when you’re looking at TOFU performance relative to sales goals, there may not be a clear winner that has more conversions than others. Instead, remain focused on the actual purpose of paid ads and SEO, which often is awareness and lead generation. If these methods are succeeding by the metrics you should be measuring them on, and bringing more leads to your site, it may not be their fault that they are not ultimately resulting in conversions — instead, it may be another part of the funnel that’s failing to graduate them to full on sales. Your (cross-channel) reporting can help with identifying problems with the funnel too.

Need help setting up your paid ad campaigns or fine tuning your SEO strategy for optimum results? Reach out to us today for more info!

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