On the Web: Want to Increase Your Online Sales?
Most sources of traffic have reporting that shows you how much you spent. Add to that some estimate of how much time you spend managing different traffic sources. Some companies view SEO as free because they don't have to pay for clicks. It's important to include your time, however, so that you can get an accurate picture of your true return on investment.
The Second Step: Allocation
Next, allocate sales to each traffic source. Here's where reporting gets tricky. The problem is that the tracking and reporting software for different types of web traffic over-report associated sales. It's very good at reporting costs, but terrible at reporting sales!
Google AdWords, for example, places a cookie when someone clicks through an AdWords link. If a consumer doesn't purchase on that click, but later comes back via an email and purchases, Google gives the AdWords click credit for the sale. Of course, your email program will give the email credit for the sale as well! The result is double counting of sales.
Double counting of sales makes it impossible to determine the number of new customers and true ROI that you're producing from different traffic sources. Many companies use outside vendors for SEO and SEM. The answer is to come up with some type of allocation model so that you're only counting a sale once.
There are several types of allocation models to choose from, but the most effective uses a marketing database to bring all sources of web traffic together, then de-dupes responses in a single report.
Marketing databases take into account the amount of time that's passed since a shopper was exposed to a particular form of advertising, then decides which traffic source should get credit for a sale.
Separate out SEM and SEO orders that are the result of someone searching for your company's name from amongst other keywords or phrases you're either bidding on or optimizing for. "Company name" sales were ultimately driven by some other marketing activity. No one wakes up one morning knowing your company name; you did something to produce that brand awareness. A good marketing database will reallocate many of these sales to a previous marketing touch.