Tracking leads we generate for advertising customers - and leveraging content better

4 replies
Hey, I'm helping a friend's European education magazine/website expand into Asia.

Presently, the model is to source high-quality content (for free) from educational consultants, psychologists, academics etc; commission guides to education in each country; then sell advertising slots in the magazine and on the website to international schools.

International schools are expensive, so the audience is fairly high net-worth individuals - therefore selling advertising to companies services associated with moving home, managing finances and logistics has also worked.

Last week, I pitched a school's marketing officer and was asked, 'If we sign, will you give us leads (email addresses of parents who have signed up to our newsletter)?'

The obvious answer is 'No', because aside from questionability legality, if a parent signed up for our education newsletter, then received emails from ten schools, they'd quickly be unhappy.

However, it got me thinking about leveraging existing traffic and content more efficiently; as well as creating/shaping new content to improve our revenue potential.

Idea One
Presently, schools advertise with us, get their own page for content and an email hyperlink to contact their admissions team with enquiries. We have no idea how many leads are generated by doing this and responding, 'We don't know for sure' isn't a fantastic section of a pitch.

- Could a Wordpress plugin allow us to track how any enquiries are sent to schools from our webpages? This could use an email hyperlink; or we could replace the hyperlink with a text box.

- While the content of these emails would be interesting, I can't imagine it'll be OK for us to see the emails. At the least though, could we track how many leads are generated for each school that advertises with us?

- I've researched WP plugins, but have struggled to cut through the vast number of plugins for tracking leads generated via enquiries to OUR company. We're looking to track leads generated for our CLIENTS' companies. Any suggestions?

Idea Two
Ultimately, parents visit our website and spend cash with advertisers - but our clients are marketing managers at schools/universities. We're creating content for parents, but not creating content for our actual clients - and nurturing them (especially schools who say 'No, for now') would be great.

- Could we adjust the content we provide, or create a new newsletter, specifically for clients? Our content at the moment is around child well-being, educational trends and living in XXX country.. How could we get marketing managers of schools who don't advertise with us (yet) to at least sign up for a newsletter?

Any suggestions around enhancing the content we offer and our tracking systems to improve not just our revenue, but the value we can offer to customers, would be super-appreciated.

#advertising #content #customers #generate #leads #leveraging #tracking
  • Profile picture of the author Wile E Coyote
    Idea One
    Presently, schools advertise with us, get their own page for content and an email hyperlink to contact their admissions team with enquiries. We have no idea how many leads are generated by doing this and responding, 'We don't know for sure' isn't a fantastic section of a pitch.
    So if I am to understand Idea One's process, schools pay you to advertise for them in your newsletter. If a user clicks on the school's link, they go to a page that YOU control with the school's information and a click to submit a form to get more information.

    If that's the case, then you have everything you need to track this stuff just using Google Tag Manager + Analytics. (without getting into super sophisticated API integrations).

    The simple response would be to create a Goal of clicking the email hyperlink in Analytics so you can monitor both the hits to that unique school's info page as well as the clicks on the email submit button. This is easy because it's very simple and you'll also be able to work towards optimizing those school pages so that they get a higher response rate (by using the data and working with the marketing managers to improve the CTR). However it definitely has limitations.

    The next step above that is to embed your own form on that school's page and have your Analytic Goal tied to a successful school form submit. You can easily create a form/template that is tied to the school's admission inquiry email. You don't need to store the responses at all, or can just keep it confidential in your organization and for data-references down the road. It's not really a breach of privacy unless you're using the data for other purposes. However, if the school goes back and says, "Your leads are no good, and here's why" not only can you review a subset of responses from your embedded form, you can also help fix the page if there's a common issue. I'd also suggest hard-coding the subject line that the school sees to something like "Admission Inquiry from TedMaul Marketing" so that not only are you collecting data from analytics, but the school clearly sees that lead came from you. It's just positive enforcement. Of course, this needs to be talked about in the onboarding process.

    The tracking process can be easily completed by ensuring that you control all of the elements. Otherwise it's a he-said, she said. In Analytics, you'll be able to see the difference between Organic Traffic and the Email Ads as well, so it will all be very clear to both parties involved.

    Idea Two
    Ultimately, parents visit our website and spend cash with advertisers - but our clients are marketing managers at schools/universities. We're creating content for parents, but not creating content for our actual clients - and nurturing them (especially schools who say 'No, for now') would be great.
    Okay, this has a lot of built in layers going on, so this answer is very complex and not-so easy to answer.

    So let's take a moment and consider a different scenario. Let's say I'm a content publisher creating a site where ultimately I was to recruit doctor's and drug companies [the clients] to advertise on my site so they can increase patient inquiry and drug sales [the client's goal].

    The publishing site would need to be hard-tailored to individuals who would need to see doctor's or buy these specific types of drugs [the client's market]. Creating content for other drug companies or doctors does not help raise patient inquiries and drug sales [client's goal].

    Now, let's continue using our medical site's example, and look at how we are onboarding and signing doctors and drug companies. If it's primarily face-to-face meetings, cold calling etc, then the ability to have a separate digital content avenue isn't exactly in line with the current business process. However, if your business process revolves around email and sending them to some inquiry page yourself, then creating some content for those marketing managers may pay off.

    The emphasis here is not whether you should create content or not, but whether or not it currently fits in with your current client acquisition process, otherwise it's something else to manage and run (which isn't bad long term but may be hard to manage while you're organization is growing and ironing out processes like you are now).

    So, back to your example.

    Your clients are schools.
    Your client's goal is to have parents/prospects send inquiries about admission.
    Your client's market is parents and/or prospects of their school.

    Your content should focus on the end-result of your client, not your client specifically.

    You can certainly have multiple client acquisition funnels, and is often recommended, but these extra funnels have extra opportunity costs tied to them. If you're putting out content and an autoresponder for these marketing managers, now you have article/writing costs involved, autoresponder costs, deliver-ability concerns, mailing IP issues, SPAM compliance etc.

    Some of these aren't deal breakers per say, but adding in a new funnel always have costs involved. Is your business able to sustain and systemize these opportunity costs? What's the average payoff of incurring new clients vs the costs. What's your current cost of acquisition? What would be the expected new cost of acquisition?

    Does that make sense?
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    • Profile picture of the author TedMaul
      Dude, that's an outstanding, super-helpful response.

      Yes, I'm confident you have understood me correctly - and everything you've suggested will be discussed with the CEO, thoroughly.

      I've been using Yoast for SEO plugin on my own website and haven't been sure whether Google Analytics does the same thing - it sounds like it has capabilities I need to get my teeth into.

      These techniques you've mentioned can be done just with Google analytics alone, yeah? No other WP plugins?

      - When you say 'The next step above that is to embed your own form on that school's page..' are you referring to the school's page on our website, rather than their own website?

      It sounds like by tracking the quantity (and perhaps quality) of leads we secure for each school, we can also gain insight into which school pages we feature perform the best - allowing us to help other schools shape more effective pages on our website too.

      Useful advice on Idea 2 also.. But I think Idea 1 has given us plenty to play with for now. If we focus on generating quality leads for our existing customers, sourcing better content, good social media strategy and therefore generating strong evidence of the quality leads we've generated for our existing customers, we could create a case study/PDF to share with non-customer schools too?

      Huge thanks
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      • Profile picture of the author Wile E Coyote
        According to Google, "Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic."

        That's the issue you are currently having right, you're unable to track the data that the end-client actually receives from your service.

        If you get a typical tracking software or plugin, you will have to rely on two things that still turn out to be problems for you. But before I go into the problem, let me mention how typical click or analytic software (including Google Analytics) work.

        So the jist of analytic software is that there is a code placed on all of the pages on your site, that when a user goes to your site, data is sent back to the software/tool/plugin. Typical data that can go back is Time on Page, Bounce Rate (when a customer goes to your site but does not take action), Custom Events (on my publishing site, I have a Custom Event that shows me when a user has stayed on my site 30 seconds or longer. This indicates to me that even though they may not take action, they were reading the content) and Conversions on Goals.

        So there's two basic principles you have to understand (not insulting your intelligence, but providing anyone else the references they need to understand how analytic software typically works without going into horrendous levels of detail) which are conversion pixels and tracking links.

        To briefly sum up conversions they are typically two versions: 1) Conversion Pixels that Go on the "Thank You" page and 2) On-Event Conversion Pixels. So for example, if I run a publishing site and one of my goals is to get users to sign up for a newsletter, I would place a conversion pixel on the page they are brought to after they sign up. Let's say on the same publishing site, I also have a goal in mind for them to contact me for more information. Generally on form submission, you don't have a "thank you" page. What is needed is an On-Event Conversion Pixel/Script. What this does is fire a conversion when a specific event is triggered. For example, when I set up my 30 Second Timer Event, that's a type of conversion. So now, I can see the # of Unique Visitors that hit specific pages as well as see what percentage is staying longer than 30 seconds on my site. Other examples would be a click on a specific page element (image banner, link etc) or a successful form submission.

        So now let's talk about tracking links. When I use the term tracking link, think Google Adwords, Bing Advertising etc I am literally referring to a link that tracks data from a unique click. In an applicable example: a user clicks a link in your newsletter, they are cookied with an unique identifier. Now that the unique user is cookied, if they takes action, for example optins to a newsletter that is connected with a conversion, the pixel is fired, and in the data collection software/plugin/tool it's recorded.

        So now you hopefully understand the basics of analytic software, let's dive into your unique situation. I mentioned 2 problems you'll end up facing with certain set ups.

        Let's say you buy a typical tracking software. So you can set up unique links for each school to be used in your newsletter. This will allow you to accurately tell the end client between 7/20 - 7/22 we sent you 1,213 clicks. Or you can safely say, the average client we work with are getting 15,784 clicks every week/month/whatever. That's a great first step right? Now you can quantify what you are giving the client... Or can you?

        Taking a step back, let's say you are a plumber. You have a website. And you hire someone to help you get more traffic to your site so you can get more clients. After a couple of months of paying this guy to work on your site, you think you are no better off than before. You confront your contractor and complain. He answers, I sent you 15,784 clicks last month! What does that mean to you, as a plumber? Probably nothing.

        Always remember the end-goal that your client is expecting in exchange for the fees you are charging. They don't care about clicks. They want to see new clients calling for their admission information, right? Great, now we hopefully see the problem.

        Using tracking software only solves half the problem, unless you get each school to place the correct conversion pixels on their own site, and to fully test it. In my experience, this is much harder to do, especially if you can just do it yourself. In my business, I don't expect anyone to do anything to move my business forward. I want all the control. So, if you can't get the conversion pixels working or on their site, you're stuck with only half of the data - clicks, when the client wants to see how many people actually contact them.

        Now, the second issue that you will be facing is that most schools are good at running their school, but they probably aren't going to be great at getting people to perform a specific action, unless a lot of pre-selling has occurred. More on this later though.

        So, you posed the correct question:
        These techniques you've mentioned can be done just with Google analytics alone, yeah? No other WP plugins?

        - When you say 'The next step above that is to embed your own form on that school's page..' are you referring to the school's page on our website, rather than their own website?
        In short yes, Analytics can record all the data you need and for free (tah-dah!). So let's say your website is ACME Laboratories. You're a complete rockstar and integrated Analytics and Tag Manager (a system for quick deployment of pixels, but not needed persay) and now you signed up ABC School. You create their school page on

        You installed analytics on that page, and now, no matter where you get the traffic (email newsletter, organic google search, facebook etc) Google Analytics is compiling information on who is visiting that page, what country they are from, what demographic information they are, what the referring site is etc.

        So now, those 15,784 clicks before, are now all recording on Google Analytics with a lot more information tied to it. Now here comes in creating your own contact form plays in. With very little expertise and free WP plugins, you can create a detailed contact form with the information the school wants from it (more value to them) like Name, Email Address, Phone Number, etc. You can set this form to be sent directly to the school's admission inquiry email address. You can also set a Goal/Conversion up in Analytics that every time someone fills out the form it triggers "ABC School Lead".

        Now when they are trying to figure out what value you bring to their school/business, you can say last month we sent you 15,784 Clicks and from those visitors, 2,347 signed up. Not only is this data backed up with Analytics, you can set the Subject line or something in the email to the admissions department that uniquely identifies that lead associated with your hard work. Not only that, but you can see which platforms are generating the most form submits. If you're running Facebook ads, and you are getting 6,000 clicks but 10 conversions, but when you are running Bing Ads you are getting 1,000 clicks and 800 form submissions, you should stop the FB Ad spend and reallocate to Bing. All this provided by Analytics.

        Now you're looking sharp!

        But wait! You realize that the conversion rate (Conversions Divided by Clicks) is only 14.86%. (Maybe that's good, Maybe it's Bad I don't know, but let's say it's horrible). Since you own the page they are landing on, you have the ability to tweak the page, provide clearer information and maybe even make a special report that the parent will get when they submit an inquiry form so you can raise the conversion rate of the page.

        A 1% Increase in the above example equates to almost 160 new inquiries. So controlling the actual page allows you to do much more for your existing clients as well as provide them more value and help increase the lead quality.

        So framing your business on the back of data you can say that our school admission pages convert at an average of 22% and we can generate an average of 15,000 clicks every month for the typical school. That's an average of 3,300 new admission queries. This can lead into what you suggested: case studies, white papers, pdfs and better recruitment documentation for prospective clients.
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        • Profile picture of the author TedMaul
          Thanks for all this information and help; we've got some great information to work with and I understand why we should be using Google Analytics now!

          I'll keep this post bookmarked and keep referring back to it - thanks for all your help!
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