How Campaign and Conversion Tracking Improve Lead Gen Success

July 15, 2021
Contributor: Gitanjali Maria

Keep a close eye on leads and conversions to improve marketing and targeting campaign outcomes. Tracking tools such as UTM tags and conversion tracking pixels help you achieve your goals.

Nearly 80% of business-to-business (B2B) sales interactions between buyers and sellers will take place via digital channels by 2025, according to Gartner research. For software businesses that want to attract more B2B leads, investing in online marketing campaigns is essential.

Measuring the ultimate success of those campaigns is sometimes challenging, however. Ad tracking offers data-fueled insights into a campaign’s return on investment (ROI) and click-through rate to help marketers optimize budget spend, target B2B buyers with greater precision, and improve lead sourcing and qualification.

What is ad tracking?

Ad tracking is the process of collecting data to assess online marketing campaign performance, whether that campaign drives lead generation or includes email marketing and websites or landing pages, continuously or over a specific period.

Many different methods can be used to track and measure campaign performance. The following information focuses on tracking leveraged outside of customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation tools. The most common tracking methods include cookies, UTM tags and ad platform pixels.

  • Cookies: Cookies are small pieces of data stored on users’ computers by the web browser to record their online activity. 
  • UTM tags: These are snippets of code added to the end of URLs to track information about website visitors, such as the source driving their visits and the number of clicks they make on a webpage. 
  • Tracking pixels: Tracking pixels are tiny 1 pixel x 1 pixel images added to websites, ad campaigns or emails using HTML codes to track user activity and conversions.

Each of those methods helps monitor various web-based analytics or metrics, such as the page session, time spent by a user on a website, number of returning visitors, bounce rate and traffic sources.

Source tracking and conversion tracking: Two key ad tracking metrics to monitor

Businesses track multiple ad metrics, such as the page value, bounce rate and impression, to monitor buyer behavior and build targeted lead generation strategies. But trying to track all of the metrics at once can be daunting, especially for software marketers who are new to their role or web analytics. 

We recommend focusing on two key metrics — source tracking and conversion tracking — to measure the success of pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Using a limited number of parameters will also make the analytics reporting process easier and simpler to understand.

Source tracking provides information about the source of traffic (e.g., social media, search engine) to a webpage. It helps you understand which marketing channels drive more traffic. Investing in sources that generate greater traffic and visibility will boost campaign ROI as well as increase the chances of conversion. 

Conversion tracking, on the other hand, tracks the number of people who click on an ad or a unique link and then become a customer by completing a form, making a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter or similar actions. Conversion tracking helps identify ads, keywords and listings that enhance lead generation and sales pipeline volume.

Both source tracking and conversion tracking are key components within the broader ad tracking toolkit, and provide data and insights that marketers should use to continue to plan and guide future lead gen campaigns.

Benefits of ad tracking

Understanding how buyers interact with online marketing campaigns helps software marketers improve campaign efforts by informing more focused targeting strategies. Key benefits include:

  • Improve lead generation: Ad tracking helps marketers understand more details about their audiences or viewers who click on ads or links and complete an action. Knowing such details (preferences, geography, etc.) helps marketers set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) lead generation goals and optimize campaign budgets accordingly.  
  • Understand buyers: Knowing potential buyers’ browsing and click patterns helps predict their personalities, behaviors and preferences. This data informs marketing strategy and campaign channels and tactics.
  • Create targeted campaigns: Demographic and behavioral data about leads and buyers help marketers improve targeting through personalized copy that matches their requirements and desires, enhancing conversion.
  • Measure ROI: Track clicks and conversions to more accurately calculate ROI as well as campaign attribution.

Using UTM tags

A UTM tag, also known as a UTM code, is a tracking code added to the end of a webpage URL, and is one of the most common tracking methods used to determine lead and traffic sources, as well as the number of page visits and conversions.

A code or tag is appended to a URL to track the traffic source, the specific campaign it’s associated with and the text a user clicked to reach the page. 

Here’s what a URL with a UTM tag added to it looks like:

Original URL

https://www.gartner.com/en/digital-markets/insights/brand-reputation-audit

URL with UTM tags added

https://www.gartner.com/en/digital-markets/insights/brand-reputation-audit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=quora_comm& utm_campaign=article&utm_content=read_more

Here’s what each UTM parameter reveals:

  • utm_medium: Tracks the medium (e.g., social media, email) visitors use to find a specific website. In the above URL, this parameter is mentioned as “utm_medium=social.”
  • utm_source: Tracks the specific source (e.g., social media) from which the web or ad traffic originated. In the above URL, this parameter is mentioned as “utm_source=quora.”
  • utm_campaign: Identifies the marketing campaign the URL belongs to and tracks campaign performance. In the above URL, this parameter is mentioned as “utm_campaign=article.”
  • utm_content: Tracks the specific call-to-action text (e.g., buy now, more information) that brought in the traffic. In the above URL, this parameter is mentioned as “utm_content=read_more.”

Every URL tracking code does not require all four parameters to function well in the marketer’s toolkit. A UTM tag can use the utm_source code alone if the objective is to track only traffic source data.

Best practices for generating UTM tags

  • Keep campaign names short so they are easy to identify.
  • Many tools are case-sensitive, so remember to name campaigns accordingly.
  • Build unique URLs for each campaign to track traffic accurately.
  • Install UTM tags to all pages, including the “Thank You” page, to accurately track conversions.
  • Set conversion goals to track all user actions.

URL tracking is best used to measure the success of PPC campaigns, email marketing campaigns and ads placed on third-party websites. It helps track the percentage of leads resulting from every marketing channel or source.

Conversion tracking is key to revenue growth

Conversion tracking is one of the most important metrics that determine the success of lead generation campaigns. It answers the question: How many leads become paying customers? 

While source tracking metrics tell which channels generate more leads, conversion metrics identify the leads that become customers. Web analytics tools help track various conversion metrics such as the cost per lead, conversion rate, campaign ROI, and channels (e.g., social media, website) and sources with the highest conversion figures.

Conversion tracking offers insights into customer paths that drive high conversion rates, thereby helping marketers optimize campaign spend. For example, consider 50% of a website’s traffic is from an ad placed on a social platform, and the other 50% from an ad on a search engine. Conversion tracking data reveals that only 30% of the former and 60% of the latter eventually click to make a purchase on a business’s website or app. That insight suggests that investing more in the search engine is a better option to increase customer acquisition.

Conversion tracking should also be used to track the performance of ads and campaigns run on third-party websites and online directories. 

To check the conversion metrics of a Gartner Digital Markets lead generation campaign, log in to your vendor portal and select “conversion tracking.” Copy and append the code mentioned there to a landing page URL. View the conversion rate and cost per lead (calculated based on click volume and bids) using the reports function under the Insights tab.

How to get started

Set up a team for tracking leads. Empower them by investing in the right web analytics tools. Build data models to understand the types of ads or campaigns that will improve lead generation and conversion for your business. 

Use these insights to plan or adjust marketing spend across initiatives, such as email campaigns, social media ad campaigns and PPC campaigns on third-party websites. 

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