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Do It Right, Or Not At All

Posted on 8.03.2014

How to Track and Optimize Performance in the Age of Marketing Automation

By Mike Nierengarten

Customer relationship management (CRM) changed how B2B marketers track online marketing campaigns, and marketing automation has only evolved it further.

Gone are the days of reporting on-form fill conversions; now is the time to report on marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), opportunity size and revenue. Managing performance based off MQLs and Opps not only drives more value from marketing campaigns, but also increases the marketing department’s contribution to revenue.

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If your enterprise is still in the dark ages of measuring conversions, now is the time to better manage and track campaigns. With a better picture of PPC performance and revenue contribution, it is then possible to answer what is perhaps the most important question of all: Do campaigns drive more revenue than they cost?

What and How to Track

You cannot manage what you can’t measure, so it goes without saying that proper tracking is essential to optimizing online marketing campaigns. Digital marketers and advertisers should be tracking source, ad network (e.g. AdWords, LinkedIn), PPC campaign, PPC ad group, keyword, offer (e.g. white paper, demo), ad ID and region. The more data sent into marketing automation, the more valuable the insights provided will be to optimize online marketing performance.

There are a few steps involved in order to track these campaign aspects:

1. Create fields inside the CRM and marketing automation systems, mapping each field to the outlined parameters above.

2. Once each field is built into the marketing automation forms, all marketing campaigns’ ad destination URLs need to be updated to include URL parameters. Tracking will not work correctly if this doesn’t happen.

3. To pass the values from the URL parameters through the form, utilize hidden form fields that connect to marketing automation.

Big Picture Reporting

Better reporting yields a more complete picture of marketing’s value to an organization – see what you might be ignoring at

Add Forms to Landing Page Templates

Marketing automation solutions such as Eloqua and Marketo (see Website Magazine’s, “Big List of Marketing Automation Software” at allow users to build landing pages directly in the platform—simplifying the placement of tracking code into the template without having to adjust each landing page or thank you page individually.

For maximum efficiency, consider creating a standard “gated offer” landing page template that utilizes a progressive form. For example, a technology company can make it so their whitepapers are not accessible without signing in or creating an account. Then, it can ask new questions every time the user wants to access new content to gain more insights about the person.

Additionally, use a universal thank you page for all online marketing efforts. By creating one thank you page template that is used in all online marketing campaigns, adding conversion tracking code for all ad platforms can be done quickly.

Make the Most of Your Reporting

Reporting is essential to optimizing online marketing campaigns. It is incredibly difficult to manage lead quality in the ad network interface because ad networks do not report ad performance data such as impressions, clicks and costs. As a result, it is necessary to combine reporting data from the ad network and marketing automation platform and do so in a way that illustrates which ad groups are generating opportunities and where spend should be increased or decreased.

The easiest solution for combining the two sets of data is to pull reports directly from both platforms and combine in Excel. The lead status by ad group report should include ad group name, ad group spend, new leads, opportunities, average ad position and cost per opportunity.

This type of report can provide a quick snapshot into what’s working, as well as where cost per opportunity is too high or where there is high spend without generating opportunities.

Visual Learner?

Check out this infographic on how to make marketing automation work for you at

Use Cost per Opportunity to Classify Campaigns

Once the ad group performance report is created, marketers should group different campaign types based on cost per opportunity. Separating campaigns and channels into Core, Peripheral, HALO, Vanity, Test and Poor Performer campaigns (described below) will allow enterprises to determine what to focus on with each.

Core campaigns are a marketer’s bread and butter. They are highly relevant to a product or service and generate the majority of opportunities below the optimal target cost per opportunity (CPO).

Peripheral campaigns have a slightly higher CPO but with optimization efforts can be moved into the Core campaigns category. HALO campaigns generate a large number of leads cheaply, but opportunities are rare. With HALO campaigns, marketers should focus on education and lead nurturing in order to increase conversion rate.

Vanity campaigns are campaigns that are run for a non-revenue generating purpose. For example, the CEO may be interested in being in top position for a highly relevant term or may want to regularly target a competitor’s key executive’s name in search. To optimize these campaigns, marketers should work on minimizing cost while meeting a specific threshold that fulfills higher-ups’ wishes.

Run regular Test campaigns to identify new Core and Peripheral campaigns and shut down Poor Performers immediately.

The Result? Reporting that Drives More Value

Setting up proper tracking and reporting in marketing automation can require significant time and effort, but the ability to optimize campaigns for marketing to a qualified lead or opportunity is worth it. Take the time to report on all aspects of online marketing, and your enterprise will be able to identify what is working, gain internal traction for marketing efforts and get more budget for additional online campaigns.

Mike Nierengarten is the president of Obility Consulting, a leading B2B demand generation company specialized in Internet marketing for businesses with long sales cycles.

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