How to Track the Success of Your Online Ads

April 12th, 2019 by Jeanne Lobman

Marketing can sometimes feel like a black box to business owners. Luckily, with digital marketing, there are ways to track pretty much everything so that you can know exactly how your campaigns are performing. As a marketer, I’m often up to my elbows in Excel sheets, pouring through the data provided from Google Ads or Google Analytics. But as you’ll soon learn, only looking at that data is not enough. To have successful campaigns, you, the business owner, must also be involved in the process to help track everything from the first impression to a closed lead.

Gif of Colin Farrell shrugging about online ads

How Do You Know If Advertising Is Effective?

In order to determine if your advertising is working, you first need to do some self-reflection. Most business owners know they need to spend money on marketing in order to grow, and often, the first thing they do is begin vetting (and maybe even hiring) an agency. But truthfully, it’ll be more difficult for you and your agency to create winning campaigns if you haven’t defined your business and marketing goals before getting started.

Luckily, we have put together an awesome guide that walks you step-by-step through the process of determining the metrics that matter to your business and how to tie those to marketing goals. To get started, gather the necessary stakeholders, download our guide, and fill out the worksheet. When you are done, you will have…

The “M” in S.M.A.R.T. stands for “measurable,” and defining this on the front end helps you determine what Key Performance Indicators are important to you. This doesn’t have to be complicated, and the less metrics, the better!

Man incorrectly measuring the success of his online ads campaign

How Do You Measure the Success of a Campaign?

Now that you’ve defined your metrics and KPIs, you’ll need to figure out what you need to track online and how you will track it. Some common things you might track are leads through phone calls and form fills, transactions and revenue through e-commerce purchases, or interest in your location through “Get Directions” button clicks. Let’s walk through some common platforms for tracking online actions.

  • Google Analytics: You can use this free platform to track user behavior on your website and set up goals to track form fills, clicks on buttons, views of key pages, and e-commerce transactions. This allows you to compare performance across all campaigns similarly, using the same attribution model and metrics. It integrates well with Google Ads (you can import your Google Analytics goals directly into Google Ads) but doesn’t send conversion data to other advertising platforms.
  • Ad Platform Pixels and Trackers: Each ad platform offers their own tracking solutions, so you can determine exactly which of your advertising campaigns, keywords, audiences, and ads are converting. If you are using something other than Google Ads, you’ll want to install these pixels in addition to Google Analytics. Most of them work very similarly to Google Analytics, but may have slight variations on how conversions are counted or tracked. Examples include Facebook Pixels, Google Ads Conversion Trackers, Bing Conversion tags, and LinkedIn Insight Tags.
  • Call Tracking Providers: Setting up call tracking is a must for businesses that receive a lot of phone calls. Call tracking works by placing a piece of code on your site that identifies the source of your site visitor and dynamically switches the phone number to attribute that call back to the source. More advanced call tracking providers are even able to tie these calls to specific ads. They offer a ton of features to make it easier for you to manage your internal process for answering and responding to these calls and to audit your team to ensure they are providing the best customer service. There are several different providers, so do your research on which one best meets your needs.

Setting up all of these things on your website does require some coding skills, so it helps to consult with a developer (or a marketing agency like Search Influence) on the best ways to set up tracking.

How Is ROI Calculated in Digital Marketing?

I don't do math gif

So now that you are tracking all of your online actions, you’re all set to calculate ROI, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, tracking just online conversions does not give you a full understanding of the success of your efforts. This is mostly true when it comes to lead-based businesses. If we deliver 100 leads to you, but not a single one turns into a client, would you call that a success? This is why it is SO CRUCIAL for you to track the quality of your leads and to provide that information to your marketing agency as close to real-time as possible.

There are many ways to determine lead quality, but some important things to track include the following:

  • Lead Score: What is a lead worth to you? Devise a scoring system and train all customer service reps on this. Think about scoring the leads based on things like, “I want more leads like this!”
  • Score Reason: What makes the lead good or bad? What was the roadblock as to why this lead couldn’t become a customer?
  • Lead Stage: Did the person schedule a consultation? Have they been sent a proposal? Did they become a client? Document where each potential customer is in the process.
  • Customer Lifetime Value: What was the revenue associated with the services they received?

Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform makes this process super easy. It can help you track the volume of leads, close rate, and average sale value, which are all important metrics to know and understand. It can also help your internal team keep track of who’ve they’ve talked to and when to follow up with them. The biggest benefit of having a CRM is having a ton of great actionable information to provide to your marketing agency so they can optimize campaigns to meet and succeed your marketing goals.

Once this data is collected, you can also determine the Return on Investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts. You’ll take the total revenue you received, subtract the costs associated (return), and divide by your investment.

ROI evaluation of online ads campaign from Search Influence in New Orleans, LA

Combine the Data and Make Smart Decisions

Implementing these tracking mechanisms and processes allows you to better understand exactly which campaigns and tactics are driving real revenue for your business. It is also one of the huge advantages of running digital advertising campaigns (real data that is tied directly to campaigns). It gives you and your marketing agency the insight to make decisions that you can trust will result in growth and allow you to continue to work toward your goals.

If you need help figuring all of this out, don’t worry! Search Influence is stocked with seasoned pros at all things tracking and analytics, and we love to dive deep into numbers to figure out what is working for our clients. We will also provide guidance as you set up your internal systems to make it as easy as possible to track the data on your end. We find that the most successful campaigns we run are ones where there is open communication between our team and our clients—providing honest feedback on the work we are doing because, ultimately, we want to optimize their business’ potential. So start a conversation with one of our digital marketing experts today so you can feel confident in your marketing efforts!


Colin Farrell

Helpless Man

Schitt’s Creek