Saturday, October 3, 2009

Do Clicks = Trials = Sales?

As I've been working recently building some online media tests for a consumer software client, it's been amplified to me the importance of tracking your campaigns accurately to determine to what extent they impact revenue.

I've mentioned in the past that online display media would not be my first choice (or 2nd, or 3rd :^) to drive data collection and lead capture in a campaign. That being said, I do feel there are other relevant online advertising vehicles that could work under the right conditions (paid search, highly targeted affiliate search, pay-per-download, etc).

If your product is a software solution which can be easily downloaded as a trial, pay-per-download might provide an interesting testing ground. We've actually had some success in a pay-per-download program with a global media download site, where in fact we've seen over 5500 downloads of our software product trial over about a 3 week period. At least that's what the media partner claims.

The issue for us is what exactly constitutes a 'certified download' with the partner? This week I analyzed the site's claimed download numbers with our analytics reporting and saw that the download to trial ratio was much lower that our standard trial ratios.

In examining the steps on the site to download the trial, it's clear that the first step -- click on the download link -- might indeed be their claimed number of >5500 clicks. But that doesn't mean that all of those clicks resulted in the file being actually SAVED to the client machine (2nd step from the download link), then RUN on the client machine.

When I mentioned this to the media rep, she agreed that altho the trial does get downloaded from their server (thus they should have the info on the number of times the file was actually served/saved), they don't have those figures. It's a critical pathing that's missing from our ROI calculation.

On our side we're able to see how many run the trial as it actually scans the host machine (it's a driver update software) and then provides a results page which is issued by our servers.

Right now it's very tough for me to figure out the ROI of the pay-per-download campaign. As well, there is insufficient reporting to see where we could optimize within the download process to improve saves and runs of the trial.

We're not ready to write off this type pf marketing investment, but it's certainly tough to build a business case for it. I mention this to remind you of the importance of not only doing sufficient internal tracking but also the tracking you receive from the online partners you may be considering. To get an accurate picture, you need to capture EVERY click, every online action, every online step from the initial message thru to trial and sales conversion.

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