Posted March 24, 2011 10:54 am by with 2 comments

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This post is the first from the Marketing Pilgrim Writer’s Garage to be posted on the main Marketing Pilgrim blog. The garage is now just a few weeks old and we are seeing some great content start to come in. We encourage anyone who has commentary on an Internet marketing issue, instruction or news to contribute to the Writer’s Garage and hopefully yours will be chosen to appear like today’s post. Look for more soon as we get more entries.

This post comes to us from Kathleen Colan, director of marketing and content for Mongoose Metrics. Thanks, Kathleen! Enjoy!


Closed-loop marketing is the process of tracking website visitors from the time they arrive at your website, to when they convert into a lead, and through to becoming a customer.

To enable closed-loop conversion tracking, Internet marketers need a constant stream of real-time performance data to understand campaign effectiveness, and identify opportunities to improve lead quality and volume. Specifically, they need to analyze:

Website Activity – Web analytics track and record traffic source, bounce rate, time on site, pageviews, pages per visit and exit pages.

Online and Offline Conversions – Web analytics also track web form completions and online purchases, and call tracking solutions record phone leads.

Lead-to-Customer Conversions – CRM systems collect and organize lead intelligence, and track leads that convert into customers and the revenue they generate.

Armed with this data, marketers are more prepared to answer the five questions they will face throughout a closed-loop marketing campaign:

1. Are my target audiences finding my website relevant?

If your audiences find your website content relevant to their needs, they will be more likely to engage with it. This will: lower bounce rate; increase time on site, pageviews and page per visit; and in the end increase the number of web form, checkout and phone-call conversions.

Review these metrics by traffic source, and target your marketing initiatives toward the sources of engaged visitors with a high likelihood of converting.

2. Is it easy for website visitors to take action?

Look at pages with calls to actions that have high exit rates and low conversions. Don’t forget to reference call tracking reports to account for offline conversions. A lack of conversions may indicate that your calls to action are unclear, or you’re not giving visitors a reason to convert.

If this is the case, consider revising the web page layout, adjusting call-to-action prominence, or reducing how much information you ask for in the web form. Also, if you don’t have a phone number listed, consider integrating one as your visitors may simply prefer to call.

3. Which Internet marketing activities are driving conversions?

To understand which marketing activities (i.e. SEO, PPC, content, social media) are driving conversions, look closely at the website traffic sources that drive visitors to fill out web forms, purchase products online or contact you by phone.

If your marketing activities aren’t driving conversions, you may consider:

Testing different calls to action.
Adding a call tracking number if you only offer a web form.
Reformatting web pages to make calls to action more prominent.
Adjusting messaging and keyword placement to see if different phrases seem to resonate better.
A/B test everything so you can directly compare performance.

4. Are we helping customers move through the buying cycle?

In a closed-loop marketing campaign, the job doesn’t end at lead generation, but continues through to customer conversions. This is often done through lead-nurturing campaigns that share useful content or specials/discounts via email.

To understand if your lead-nurturing campaigns are effective, review website traffic sources to see how many visitors they drive. Next, look at time on site, pageviews, and online and offline conversions to understand if these visitors are taking the time to read through the content you’ve shared, and requalifying themselves via web form or phone call.

Also, through the CRM, you can see how many leads associated with a nurturing campaign are converting to customers, and how much revenue those customers generate.

5. Do campaigns receive an acceptable return on investment?

To determine campaign ROI, compare overall marketing spend to online and offline conversions, then to all lead-to-customer conversions and revenue generated.

Compare ROI across campaigns to identify the top-performing initiatives. Consider putting more budget and effort into these activities, and adjusting or eliminating under-performing ones.

Study which lead-nurturing campaigns are converting leads to customers, and then apply what you’re doing there to other campaigns. Also, experiment with different ways to motivate leads to take action, either though sharing different types of educational content or offering different discounts/specials.

When managing an Internet marketing campaign, it’s important to have all metrics readily available, from initial traffic source to customer conversions. With this information, marketers are better equipped to gain valuable insight into campaign performance and capitalize on opportunities to improve.

  • Great article! Wouldn’t it be great if brick & mortar businesses had the same insight into their marketing metrics? It might be nice for them to be able to answer such questions as: customer acquisition cost, lifetime customer values, and then the holy Grail….Marketing ROI. Otherwise how do restaurants choose their marketing mix, Eanie, Meanie, Mighty, Moe?

    • Thanks Jeffrey. Unfortunately there no easy answer to that question, but that’s not to say there are not opportunities to better understand some brick and mortar business conversions. Using call tracking, you can record phone conversions (i.e. Pizza orders, Restaurant reservations) that come in via online marketing initiatives, an offline advertisement (i.e. billboard, radio, TV or print ad), or on- and offline yellow page listings. In addition, offering specials or discounts on local check-in services like Foursquare can make it easy to track conversions from these social media users. Finally, QR codes that display some sort of coupon or special discount may be another way to show what online or offline marketing initiatives are driving brick-and-mortar conversions.