The Bottom-Line Value of Unique Numbers

Editing a book is a tough job. What goes in? What must you force yourself to leave out? Our new book on the ins and outs of conversion incorporates numerous conversion tips from specialists in the industry. Interspersed through the text, these little gems reinforce the “conversion perspective” and give you solid, actionable information as well as food for thought.

Unfortunately, some of those conversion tip contributions landed on the cutting room floor. But I don’t want you missing out on some excellent actionable advice, so here’s a tip that didn’t make it into our book.

If you are engaged in multichannel marketing, this tactic offers you a competitive edge and gives you a much more realistic picture of your online impact. Because you’d like to know what’s really going on behind the scenes, right?

Most folks pondering a considered purchase do some research before they make their move – we know this intuitively (many of us do the same thing) and extensive research confirms it. You’ll recall from our recent discussion about the underbelly of shopping cart abandonment that not all macro-conversions (the ultimate goal for your Web site) take place on the first visit. Sometimes not on the second visit. Sometimes not for days.

And sometimes they don’t even take place online.

I’m in the market for a new mattress, the perfect cradle for my sleep. Frankly, the hill-and-valley affair I currently sleep on has become insufferable. But if I’ve learned anything in the past few weeks of online research, it’s that mattresses tend to be big-ticket items, and they are pretty high-tech. Sheesh … the folks who think computers are confusing should enter the mattress zone!

In my quest for the holy grail of perfect sleep, I’ve been typing keywords into search engines, clicking on pay-per-click ads, paying attention to customer reviews, asking friends for recommendations and then going to the company sites. Clever sites will use Web analytics to track my returns, so they’ll know I haven’t completely given up on them.

Sophisticated sites are going to be doing what the Acme Mattress Company (name changed to protect the innocent) does.

Say I enter a keyword into Google and click on a Acme result, I get an Acme Mattress landing page with a toll-free contact number. If I type the Acme Mattress Web address into my browser, I get a similar landing page with a different toll-free contact number. The pay-per-click ad? You guessed it … yet another toll-free contact number, distinct from the other two.

A subsequent friendly chat with Acme informs me that offline sales via the online contact number is how they close the bulk of their business. The visitor’s online experience leads to an offline sale. The different contact numbers help Acme evaluate which channels are working best for them and which channels need tweaking. This information allows them to outbid competitors for critical keywords and informs their pay-per-click strategies. Acme happily has been able to determine that some campaigns they thought were under-performing were actually remarkably successful – and their overall paid search ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) was 250% higher when they accounted for multichannel sales.

Customer behavior online is far more complex than the black and white buy-or-bail perspective. Folks increasingly are turning to The Big Resource in Cyberspace for their research and purchasing needs (and often closing the deal in a variety of offline ways). Paid search is becoming highly competitive. Costs associated with “owning” keywords are increasing. Can you afford to overlook the analytics details that will give you the competitive advantage?

Volume 108: 4/1/05


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