Mislead by Conversion Rates: A Closer Look at How Marketers Can Improve Campaign Performance


I Need Leads: Who Cares about E-Commerce?

Improper understanding of conversion rate gets us not only in ecommerce, but also in lead generation campaigns. It’s easy to fixate on the impact of conversion rates in generating sheer volume of leads, while losing sight of other important factors like lead quality and lead closing rates.

The standard spiel in paid search lead generation campaigns frequently involves use of a lead form on landing pages. There is no doubt that pages with simple lead forms work extremely well to increase lead quantity. But consider this: lead quantity at the expense of lead quality?

Each lead has an associated value that ultimately affects ROI. Lead quality suffers when a poorly targeted text ad leads visitors to a content-lacking landing page with a prominent lead form. While it’s tough to find a sweet spot between increasing lead volume and increasing lead quality, continuous testing is imperative to narrow the gap.

However, testing goes nowhere unless granular tracking solutions are available to measure (1) conversion rate, (2) lead quality percentage, and (3) lead signing/closing rates on particular keywords and/or landing pages. Know and use this data to develop future tests. If it’s proven that a simple lead form on a landing page with little content provides poor lead quality, then shift your attention elsewhere.

A deep understanding of this triad of factors for lead generation campaigns will help search engine marketing managers accurately measure test outcomes and benchmark results for future efforts.

Other Factors & Influencers

In today’s dynamic online marketing space, I realize what worked last week, may not provide results today. Due to the multitude of factors influencing success, isolating causes for success or failure can become a time consuming process for online marketers. But despite the time intensive nature of this process, we must endure it to avoid heading down the wrong path.

When facing these common conversion rate fluctuations, marketing professionals should consider these factors & influencers:

Landing page or text ad performance
– Factors to consider
– What’s the AOV, EPC, ROI, lead quality percentage, and traffic levels per page and text ad?
– Did your campaign positions in the search results change during your test?
– Did a new competitor enter the landscape and drive up cost per clicks?
– Did you give the test enough time considering your buying cycle? If your average consumer is in the buying process for 2 weeks before making a decision, then a 1 week test may not be sufficient.

Understand seasonality and external market conditions
– Gas prices going up?
– How’s the consumer price index?
– Did you launch your new campaign too early or too late?

Examine the performance of other marketing channels
– Did phone calls increase?
– Did visitors opt-in for email newsletters more readily?
– How were brick and mortar sales affected?

While conventional wisdom dictates the importance of conversion rates, as online marketers, we must dig deeper to uncover the key metrics that drive our clients’ success. Ultimately, the more control you have over each variable of a paid search campaign, the more effectively you will be able to deliver the maximum possible ROI to the client.


  1. Michael, thank you for raising a critically important subject for the industry as interactive marketing matures.

    Clearly, we are interested in not just improving each hop in the conversion funnel. What we ultimately want to achieve is optimization across the entire customer decision making process.

    At the moment, most companies struggle with this task given the functional silos that exist across lead generation, sales and management of the customer experience. This is exacerbated by further silos across channels.

    The solution is integrated planning, testing and optimization across customer touchpoints. The benefits are obvious; profitable conversion of the right customers with deep insights gained about the decision making process itself.

    Digital marketing is in fact leading us to a new functional paradigm where the customer facing process is the hub for a range of rapid test&learn cycles that inform key business processes.

    All businesses need to transition from simple metrics that suit organization charts to more wholistic processes that center on the customer’s choices.

  2. Coremetrics is a really good tool in figuring out conversions and drop off rate, intelligence is key to success for e-commerce sites.

  3. The best case scenario is when you have the IT infrastructure capabilities to create a closed loop feedback system in which all leads are tracked throughout the entire sales process (click to final sale). This provides the greatest clarity, however is not always practical. Recently our agency introduced a new metric to our clients, CPQL or Cost-per-quality-lead. We actually develop a list of criteria with each client under which we agree a lead will be considered a “quality” lead. The criteria differ for each client, but some of the more common criteria include, (a) Valid Phone (b) Accepted Geography (c) Verified Need and (d) Allocated Budget.

    Regardless of which system you utilize, there must be some connection to the online lead form and the lead once it enters the organization lead flow process. We have found one of the easiest ways is to create a unique ID for each lead generated at the time of form submission. This identifier can be passed as part of the online lead form to the sales team and easily passed back to your online tracking technology, which gives you that needed identifier to really begin appreciating the quality of your leads.

    Hopes this helps, thanks for the great question..


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