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Discovering Untracked PPC Sales

What would your paid search program look like if it was missing 50% of the sales dollars that it was generating? Would you alter your bidding? For many retailers who receive orders via the web and on the phone, this may be the case. Paid search clicks are likely seeding their fair share of offline orders. Getting at these orders is not always easy, and the typical approach of accounting for this spillover has been to adjust PPC bid targets to allow for the PPC-to-phone traffic. (For instance, if 30% of your web traffic converts over the phone, you may be willing to push bids a similar amount in order to hit your marketing targets across channels.) For many of our clients, we’re able to associate phone orders with the respective paid search click that drives the call – often capturing that order in real time. Perhaps more importantly, we're tracking these offline conversions for our clients for no additional fees. How is it done? With a little bit of back end IT support on your web site, it’s something that's actually quite easy to track and integrate with existing key code systems and analytics. When the customer arrives at your site via a tracked link, two things happen:

  • First, the site grabs the redirect information coming from the tracked link and databases it in a table, assigning a unique key code.
  • Next, a visible, but not distracting, tracking code is placed on the bottom of the page. This code look something like “[R562899]“. This code is persistent throughout all the pages on the site. Now, when the customer calls the call center, the agent asks for that code when placing the order. Just like a catalog call agent typing a catalog code into the order taking app, the call agent punches the web key code onto the order. Multichannel tip: For better call center scripting, the tracked link could also trigger a unique 800 number to be displayed on your site, indicating to your call center that this customer came in from a paid search click. This would allow the call center agent to know to ask if they’re on the website without further probing.
  • When the call center agent completes the order, it fires PPC tracking, just like a customer using their own computer. The info from the initial tracked link is then pulled back from the database (based on the unique key code entered from the order). The PPC tracking integrates with bidding and reporting as a typical PPC customer would if shopping from their home.

Typically, the time necessary to add the appropriate code for the database piece will vary from 6-10 hours, depending on your site. For anyone not able to integrate this database piece, we typically capture the same data using a FTP feed. The data is imported into our systems daily, still allowing for more accurate PPC bids. Why are the bids more accurate? Looking at the PPC program at a somewhat granular level, you’ll likely find that there are keywords that tend to drive more phone sales than others. In this scenario, across-the-board increases of ppc bids would likely over-bid non-phone converters and still undervalue terms that result in higher phone conversion. Additionally, tracking PPC clicks through to the phones may actually reveal more sales dollars than expected, as the typical average value of orders coming through the phones should be higher than the AOV of orders closing on the web (accounting for cross sells, up sells and more considered purchases). These orders can then easily be parsed back out for reporting and audits based on the IP address and key codes of orders coming from the respective call center(s). Understanding how much revenue your paid search programs are driving is essential to ensure that you’re spending crucial marketing dollars in the right place.

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