Case Study: Sea Eagle Tracks Ads and Sales
Problem: Sea Eagle needed a way to gauge whether its advertising investments were paying off.
Solution: It developed a proprietary ad-tracking solution that ties back to sales data.
Results: The merchant of boats and gear now can track back 21 percent of its sales to the cost of promotions, vs. only 10 percent last year.
As more and more of its customers migrated to the e-commerce channel, Sea Eagle was losing sight of how it was generating leads. Were they coming from print advertising, search-engine marketing, natural search on the Web or some other method?
“We spent $400,000 in print ads last year, [for example], but we could track back sales to them only a tenth of the time,” says John Hoge, vice president of this Port Jefferson, N.Y.-based merchant of inflatable boats and boating gear. “We had only a vague notion of which ads were working for us. The Net was muddying our ability to track the performance of our media buys.”
To solve this dilemma, Hoge developed a script that asks online shoppers (at the shopping cart) and catalog requesters how they heard about Sea Eagle. They’re presented with a simple list of three
choices: “advertisement,” “search engine” or “other.” When visitors select “advertisement,” a drop-down menu lists the names of the specific media outlets in which Sea Eagle’s ads appear. (To keep it current, the media menu is updated hourly.)
When site visitors select “search engine,” the system automatically searches back to find the referring URL so that Hoge knows which search-engine marketing programs are working. “We tag all our CPC [cost per click] buys with specific tracking codes, including the keyword that was advertised,” Hoge says.
If there’s no tracking code, he continues, the system automatically looks at the referring URLs to identify online traffic coming from natural search. It then parses out keywords. “This way we can do a monthly review of all our search-engine bidding strategies on Overture and Google Adwords,” he says.