• Dan White

THE IN'S AND OUT'S FOR HOW TO TRACK WEBSITE LEADS


Question. Do you know how your online leads found you?

The answer can be hard. You mumble something about some of your business coming through Google. Maybe the PPC is doing something? Most answers are pretty vague. It doesn’t have to be like this though. As a digital marketer it’s my job to make sure I know where your business comes from. So, we’re going to have a deep dive into the steps you can take to track your website leads via the most common website features.

WHY TRACKING WEBSITE LEADS IS CRUCIAL…

I tend to work with a lot of clients who are what you would call low-volume, high value businesses. What do I mean by that? That they only need a very small number of very qualified leads to come along to keep their businesses going (and then some). We’re talking anywhere in the region from around £40k per sale up to £500k.

As a result, it’s critical we’re able to track the source of these leads so we can understand what’s working and what’s not. It means clients know with far greater certainty which channels are delivering new business and which channels are delivering a positive ROI.

All this tracking is still only a step in the right direction. Lead tracking on your website is by no means exhaustive. But something is better than nothing, right? So, we’ll be covering:

For this, you’re going to need access and a working knowledge of the following tools:

  • The backend of your website

  • Google Analytics

  • Google Tag Manager

If you don’t then you’ll need to speak to someone who is familiar with these tools.

Each set of tracking options are split into two. The tool you’ll need to work with to record the analytics of the lead coming in, plus, the tool you’ll need process the lead further.


TRACKING PHONE CALL LEADS


Naturally, not every potential customer is going to be inclined to email you. I often find that with products or services that are more bespoke, or with longer delivery times there’s a lot of questions and conversations which just need to happen over the phone.

TRACKING A PHONECALL LEAD

With some simple bits of code we can record in Google Analytics when someone taps your phone number on a smartphone. By recording this in Google Analytics, we can cross reference the data with all sorts of different things including what marketing channel delivered the call, the device the call was made on, where in the world they are and what page they made the call from.

Setting this up is pretty easy if you’re familiar with Google Tag Manager. There’s a good step by step guide for setting it up here. Once you’re done Google Analytics will automatically record every time someone taps to call.

The Advantages:

  • Free and (relatively) quick to add

The Disadvantages:

  • Only tracks smartphone phone number taps - not someone keying in the number

  • No knowledge of the quality of the call if you’re not the person answering the phone

THE TOOL TO NURTURE THE LEAD

If you want to take things a step further then you’ll to need to buy a package with a call tracking company. They can give you the tools to record, track and nurture all calls which are made, not just those made on a smartphone. There are plenty of call tracking providers out there on the market with monthly prices starting at around £50 if you have small call volumes. Calltracks has a good introductory video to explain how it works in more detail.

The Advantages:

  • You can record all of your website calls, whether they’ve keyed the number in or tapped to phone

  • You can progress the call to understand not only which channels deliver the calls but which channels generate sales

The Disadvantage:

  • The cost. Depending on the volume of calls you receive spending upwards of £600 a year to attribute calls may not be the most effective way of spending budget.


TRACKING EMAIL LEADS


If you have a written email address on your site then we know it’s going to be clicked. But when you receive that email in your inbox you can have zero idea about how it’s reached you.

TRACKING AN EMAIL LEAD

To track how many times an email link is clicked we need to follow a very similar method to tracking a phonecall. This will tell us that the link has been clicked and show the data from where the click came from. This can be set up in exactly the same way as tracking a telephone click. You can follow the same guide, (all you need to do differently is to use mailto: as the HTML trigger rather than tel:). Again, you’ll need to be familiar with Google Tag Manager to implement this.

The Advantages:

  • Free and (relatively) quick to add

The Disadvantages:

  • People can still click the link but not actually send an email meaning rogue emails being recorded

THE TOOL TO NURTURE THE LEAD

Because clicking an email link sends an email to an inbox that you may not have eyes on, emails rather hit a dead end from a tracking perspective. Because these emails end up in an inbox with all other kinds of messages, we can’t definitively say which email the website generated.

To solve this issue, whenever a client includes an email link, I make sure the link is coded so that the subject line automatically populates when someone clicks our link. This is a really simple tweak, even if you’re not too familiar with HTML. All you will need is access to the backend of your website and a list of all the places different email links may appear. There’s a short guide for how to do this here. This way, you can make it clear that emails arriving in your inbox are definitely from the website and not from any other sources.

The Advantages:

  • Free and very quick to add

The Disadvantages:

  • The prospect may still delete the subject line and write their own, losing visibility

  • No visibility on the quality of the lead if you don’t manage the inbox

Alternatively, many businesses hide their email address altogether and rely instead on contact forms which have a major advantage…


TRACKING CONTACT FORM SUBMISSIONS


This is always my preferred go-to method method of contact as the tracking is as close to 100% accurate as we can make it.

TRACKING A CONTACT FORM LEAD

Let’s start with tracking the analytics. Depending on your websites configuration you can use the Google Tag Manager method already mentioned so that when someone clicks the Send/Submit button, Google Analytics records that event taking place. Honestly though, this can end up being really complicated depending on what technology is running the form.

Instead, to make everyone’s lives easier we tend to set up a Thank You page instead. Because that page can only be reached by people who successfully fill in a form it cuts out any issues. Personally, it’s also preferred for the experience it offers someone; a final step to point them elsewhere, rather than leaving them hanging around on a contact page they’ve already used.

You can then use this thank you page as the thing that tells Google Analytics that someone has submitted the form. It’s easy to do and is called setting up a Destination Goal. There’s a guide here. Plus, here’s some examples of what makes a great thank you page.

Advantages:

  • Quick to setup

  • Easier to configure than Google Tag Manager

  • Good experience for users

Disadvantages:

  • Can count spam messages if your form is filled in by bots

THE TOOL TO NURTURE THE LEAD

A contact form has a major advantage to anything else - It can automatically talk with and transfer your enquiry into a CRM.

So, why is that important? Everything we’ve mentioned up till now talks about recording data for people who have enquired. While that data is super useful for future planning it doesn’t reveal who actually turned into a sale.

If all we’re using is that data to make future marketing decisions then we could be marketing to all the wrong people. However, if we know who signed up while knowing their origin, we have everything. We have the complete data – end to end.

A traditional email link click would look something like this; tracking from a source, to the website with some potential doubt if the website sent the lead to your inbox. It then means you’ve lost the rest of the thread unless you do a lot of manual cross referencing:


Transfer of data from a contact form to a CRM instead looks like this. We have the complete picture.


Choosing a CRM isn’t easy. There are a lot on the market and there’s more considerations than just what the marketing department needs to be factored in. A personal favourite, in part because it’s a great starter CRM for SME’s is Hubspot. This allows those messages which come via a contact form to be tracked right through from start to finish.


Advantages:

  • Complete end to end tracking

Disadvantages:

  • Can be costly to set up and configure

There are a bunch of other website features which could also be tracked. Particularly Ad campaigns and Chatbots to name a couple. However, phonecalls, email links and contact forms are the most common so I wanted to tackle those first.


Once complete, setting this all up is a one time job. Even though it can take time to get this all up and running the data you’ll have access to will be an incredible tool in delivering more successful marketing.