There’s an old saying. “If you don’t track your campaigns, you’ll never know which part of your marketing budget you’re wasting.”
If you don’t track your conversions, you may well end up cutting profitable campaigns or even continuing with loss-making campaigns.
The online world is enormous and any campaigns you’re running will be across a whole range of properties. From PPC to PPV to CPM to banners, text ads, social media. The list goes on and on. What works for one medium won’t necessarily work for another website, and if you don’t track the flow of traffic and conversions, your optimization decisions will be flawed.
Starting a campaign isn’t necessarily a difficult or complicated process. All it really takes is an offer page and some kind of creative, for example, a banner. You choose where you want your banner to display and link it to your offer page. Job done.
Making the campaign profitable takes a lot more effort as the variables to take into account can be overwhelming. Which banner converted the best for which Geo, which website sent the best traffic, which browser or mobile device did the conversion come from, at what time of the day do your best conversions happen? That’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but it serves to illustrate the point. Campaigns become profitable from the optimization and you can’t optimize without data.
Whenever I start a new campaign, I use a two-step process. The first of these is what I rather unimaginatively call the Black Campaign. The Black Campaign is like a scout. I send traffic to this and the purpose is to find profitable website targets. I use minimum bids for the traffic and run the Black Campaign without any real optimization in mind – I’m just looking for profitable website targets.
With my tracking solution, I can drill down in my reporting to see the Source ID for all my traffic. Source ID is one of the many parameters supported by any good tracking solution and is essentially the website identifier. You can see an example of this Source ID tracking in the image:
Going into my tracking reports for the Black Campaign, I can see all the Source IDs that are not converting for the particular offer and are only costing me money. These non-converting source IDs can then be black-listed in my traffic sources, so I don’t pay for this non-converting traffic.
The parameters in my tracking solution allow me to not only black-list websites and not bid on them anymore, but they also allow me to modify the traffic for mobile carriers for example. When I see a particular cellular carrier converting well for a specific campaign, I can increase my traffic cost (CPC bid for instance) to take advantage of this and maximize the ROI on the campaign.
The second step of my two-step process is what I again, rather unimaginatively call the White Campaign. For this stage of my campaign optimization, I white-list all the profitable source IDs (and other parameter combinations) and only run my campaigns on these. From my tracking, I already know that these Source IDs are converting and profitable so I can modify my traffic bids to take advantage of this.
The two campaigns run in tandem. The Black Campaign collects converting and non-converting Source IDs. These converting and profitable Source IDs go into the White Campaign for maximum ROI. The non-converting Source IDs are black-listed in my traffic sources, so I don’t waste any more of my campaign budget on these.
Tracking isn’t limited to the Source ID. I can drill down onto any number of parameters, for example, the mobile carrier for a mobile campaign I’m running, as shown in the screen-shot:
The optimization process is where the money comes from, and without the data and reports from my tracking solution, I wouldn’t be able to make any optimizations or modify my campaigns for the maximum return on my traffic costs.
The data I can drill-down into gives me all the metrics I need (and then some!)
Tracking is absolutely essential to run any kind of profitable campaign online.
You can run campaigns without tracking but it’s virtually impossible to do any optimization on these, and without optimization, you’ll never be able to maximize your ROI.