Zach Mandelblatt
By Zach Mandelblatt | SEM | December 17, 2013

The Importance of Having (& Using!) Conversion Tracking Part 3: Branding

If you’ve made it this far, you became a Conversion convert in Part 1 & you learned how to conversion track for Lead Generation and E-Commerce sites in Part 2.  In the third installment of this conversion tracking series, we’ll look at a few ways to track the effectiveness of branding campaigns.  Before we do so, I’d like to define branding for PPC: keeping your brand in front of prospective buyers/clients via ads (usually images) so they positively associate your brand with the product/service they are considering.  That way, they come to you first when they are ready to buy.The first thing to acknowledge when thinking about branding is that it’s not for everybody.  The goal is to become the first company a prospective client/buyer thinks of when considering your service/product.  In order to accomplish this, you have to stay in the prospect’s mind as much as possible so they think of you first..  Consider Coca Cola or Geico: how many times in a single day do you see an ad for these branding giants?  How much do you think that costs them?  Running a successful branding campaign is a big investment, and doing it halfway will fail to plant your brand in your prospect’s subconscious and be a waste of money.  Branding, like Search Engine Optimization, is a long-term investment.  It takes time for prospects to associate with your ad.  If you want immediate results, invest in something else (text ads on the Search network are generally better choices for direct response marketing).
Having this guy’s mug on the side of every other building for years on end ain’t free!
Many of our clients are simply too small to make branding a good investment.  However, if you are a Bay Area based company that runs advertisements on local TV, or a retailer who advertises nationwide but is more profitable in their home state, then branding via Pay Per Click advertising could be a viable investment if you focus on the geographic areas important to you.  You can do so by running Display image ads in the Google Display network, Facebook, or Twitter, among other options.Branding ConversionsUnless you have a multimillion dollar advertising budget, you can’t spend as much money as you might want on any of these networks solely for the purpose of branding.  The question at hand is: what do you get out of it?  If we are branding, how do we track the effectiveness of the Display campaign?  Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to track the entire effect of a branding campaign since they have a further reach than regular old direct-response marketing.  Take the Google AdWords snapshot below: each of these display campaigns are showing image ads to hundreds of thousands of prospects in a month.  The direct response result of the ads are shown in the Conv (1 per-click) column.  However, AdWords also has a metric called “View Through Conversions”, highlighted in yellow below, which shows how many people saw your ad and then converted.
branding conversion
View Through Conversions help quantify the branding effects of different campaigns
View-Through Conversions are the best quantifier in AdWords of branding effects, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Was the prospect going to convert anyway? Or did their subconscious register the ad and sway them to return to your website the next day and convert?  What is the real value of a view through conversion?  Alas, conversion tracking data is often incomplete, even more so when talking about branding & view through conversions, and this is about the best we can do in the mean time.One thing you can look for, once you’ve started a branding campaign, is whether you start to see an increase in total conversions for all other traffic sources.  If you don’t see the needle moving at all a month or two into the branding campaign then the image ads may not be effectively gripping your prospects’ subconscious or you might be targeting the wrong demographics!
A rising tide raises all ships: if you start to see an increase in total conversions from other traffic sources around the time the branding campaign should start to take effect, it is probably working!
We’ve now covered the three different ways we like to think about conversions: Lead Generation, E-Commerce, and Branding.  What about tracking the ways in which different people interact with your website?  Some questions can help:  How often someone coming from AdWords views enough pages to get to your cart check-out? Is Bing Ads traffic is as engaged with your website as its AdWords counterpart?  Next week, we’ll take the another step into the statistical revolution and take a very brief look into Google Analytics, which allows you to track just about anything.
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