When it comes to online lead generation, saying that metrics matter is an understatement. The ability to see how ads are performing is one of the most important tools that a marketing team has to gauge the success of its efforts. 

Of course, the success is not just for personal satisfaction. Seeing what drives successful online lead generation with your target audience and what doesn’t gives you the opportunity to replicate what works for future campaigns. Data-driven marketing campaigns save you money and time in the long run and help drive a greater ROI for all of your efforts.

Unfortunately, marketing teams often fall victim to measuring vanity metrics over those that are really making an impact on the business. Vanity metrics include:

  • Ad impressions
  • Site traffic
  • Page views
  • New followers
  • Total followers

Vanity metrics don’t tell you the whole story when it comes to your digital marketing campaigns. Metrics like the ones mentioned above do little to tell how well a campaign is generating business, and they are subject to fraud.

So why do we keep relying on vanity metrics? Quite simply, because they look good in reports. It is easy to promote success when you see an increase in activity. When a chart reads up and to the right, people nod their heads in agreement that things are going well.

The problem is that vanity metrics are often exposed as nothing more than fluff in the long run. So to tell the real story of an online lead generation campaign, start with metrics that truly measure success.

What Metrics Show the ROI of Online Lead Generation?

Vanity metrics do little to show a true return on investment, but other metrics that marketers rely on do tell the whole story. However, it is important to remember that these metrics don’t always paint the rosiest picture for your campaigns. They are also used to tell you what is not working. This information can be just as important as knowing what is working, though, so don’t be afraid of metrics that expose failure—just don’t continue to replicate that failure.

So which metrics help tell the whole story? In all honesty, the metrics that show the capability to grow your business. Not all of them will show a direct dollar increase for your business, but they will provide you with a foundation of data that you can build upon.

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Click-Through Rates

Measuring a click-through rate tells you how many times a visitor has moved from one stage of your online lead generation campaign to the next. Click-through rate is one of those metrics that may not give you a look into monetary success; however, it does let you know what is working for you.

Marketers often rely on this metric to measure the effectiveness of keywords, ads, and content on their site. For example, you can tell which ads drive more visitors toward a conversion by measuring the click-through rates of your various ads. This can help you decide which ads to keep running, and which ones to pull. 

The same can be said for keywords. Knowing the keywords that perform best for your audience helps you better tailor content and ads around them. Finally, click-through rates also tell you what type of content helps drive success. With this data at the ready, you are better prepared to build online lead generation campaigns that perform for your business.

It is important to note that click-through rates are one of the metrics most affected by ad fraud. If your campaigns are hit with fraudulent clicks, your metrics are not going to show you the right data. For example, if your campaign registers a large number of clicks from a botnet or a human fraud farm, your click-through rate won’t tell you the true story. A campaign may look more effective than it really is because of fraudulent clicks, which has a ripple effect because other metrics, such as conversion rates, will also be inaccurate.

Validated Conversions

All too often, people make the mistake of measuring conversions only when a sale is made. Sales are an important conversion to track because they show how much revenue is brought in by your efforts. They are also important when measuring the customer acquisition cost (CAC) for the overall health of your business. Yet a sale is not the only type of conversion that should be measured.

Conversions may also be when someone signs up for your site, a newsletter, or some other way of interacting with you on a regular basis. The sign-up gives you their contact information and allows you to continue to interact with them and put your message out in front of an engaged visitor rather than someone who is not interested in what you have to say. Another type of conversion that is commonly tracked is when a visitor fills out a lead form. This means the person is interested in your product or service and wants to hear more about how it can help them.

Downloads may be another conversion that you may want to track. Online lead generation efforts often provide specialized content that requires an extra step or two in order for a person to view it. This shows that the visitor is interested enough to fill out a form, provide their information, and download the content. This engaged visitor is looking for a solution that you may be able to provide.

Remember that, like with any other metric, fraudulent activity affects your conversion metrics and has the ability to skew the data. Fraud can create bogus conversions that may not get caught right away and cause a marketer to make decisions based on bad data. So you need to look for validated or true conversions.

Even downloads are subject to fraud. It is not hard to hire a human fraud farm and have people download e-books and white papers or even sit through webinars. This type of manipulation hurts your metrics’ ability to help you make the best decisions.

Conversions generally create leads for your business. It is important to know that there are two types of leads. When someone hands over their contact information to sign up for a newsletter or download a white paper, they are considered a marketing qualified lead. The visitor is curious about what you have to say.

When the lead is handed off to your sales team, the team determines if they become a sales qualified lead. This is when the visitor shows interest in making a purchase. They may request a demo or a trial. The difference is that they have made their way further down the sales funnel as a potential customer, not just someone showing interest.

Time Spent on Page

Knowing how much time visitors spend on your page has plenty of merit to an online lead generation campaign. If you know what to look for, this metric helps a great deal. Time spent on page, or time spent on site, measures the duration of time your visitor may be reading blog posts, checking out your products or solutions pages, or viewing any other content on your site.

When people spend the right amount of time on a page, you know things are working well for you. If a blog post is 1,000 words and it takes people roughly 10 minutes to read it, for instance, you can safely say that the traffic is legitimate and engaged.

If the numbers are off for this metric, they might tell you something is wrong. If visitors are spending little time reading long-form content, the content might need to be refreshed or strengthened to get the results you expect.

It may also be an indicator of fraud. Oftentimes, botnets and human click farms visit pages to drive up ad impression numbers. Because they are paid per page impression, they aren’t spending much time reading over the content—they are on to the next ad.

This doesn’t mean the time-spent-on-page/site metric isn’t subject to fraud, though. Bots can be programmed to linger on a page or site for as long as the criminal wants them to. Human fraud can also create illegitimate numbers by having people act as if they are engaging with a page on a site when they are really just waiting on the page until the timer is up.

Cost per Validated Lead

One of the best metrics for determining the return on your marketing investment is cost per validated lead. When tracking this metric, you are setting a goal and measuring how much it costs you to move that person into the goal stage of your funnel. For example, maybe you are measuring a marketing qualified lead. You spend $1,000 on a pay-per-click campaign and convert 10 visitors into leads. Your cost per lead is $100. If you convert 100 visitors, your cost per lead is $10.

Knowing the cost per lead for an online lead generation campaign allows you to measure it against other campaigns. One place to start is by measuring paid versus organic cost per lead to see where you are more successful. If one stat is much higher than the other, you may need to spend some time working to bring those numbers into balance.

You can stack other metrics on top of cost per lead as a person moves down the sales funnel. Cost per sales qualified lead and cost per win are other metrics that rely on cost per lead as a foundation.

Customer Lifetime Value

Generally, it costs less to keep an existing customer than it does to bring on a new one, which is why so many businesses spend their efforts to ensure repeat business. Measuring customer lifetime value (CLV) is how you determine the value each customer has.

The way this number is measured is by taking the cost to acquire and service the customer and subtracting that from the revenue the customer generates. Knowing your CLV lets you see which channels are most valuable to you. Spending more on your marketing efforts for which your CLV is higher will generate a better ROI for your business.

Fraud Distorts Online Lead Generation Metrics

Any metric relies on data for measurement. For a true look into performance, the data needs to be as clean as possible so you know exactly how well something is performing. The problem with so many marketing metrics is that they are subject to fraudulent activity, which is so rampant that Adobe reports approximately 28 percent of all online traffic comes from nefarious sources.

It is all too easy for scammers to use human traffic farms and botnets to drive up these numbers in order to make money for themselves. These inflated numbers, in turn, cost you money and water down your online lead generation data.

In order to eliminate ad fraud and keep your data free from pollution, you need to look for a solution that addresses the problem. Anura helps eliminate ad fraud in real time by taking hundreds of data points into consideration. By keeping the bad traffic out and eliminating false positives, you can spend your time analyzing metrics powered by clean, accurate data. You’ll know that the decisions you make based on this data are not influenced by what a botnet does, but instead by your real-life customers.

This article has been republished with new information. 

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