For years I’ve been asked how we keep track of our sales, our ad campaigns, number of software downloads, and other vital e-commerce statistics. After all, generating and tracking traffic to your Web site is important, but what really matters is how many sales that traffic produces and where it is coming from. With more and more businesses struggling to make a profit lately, knowing precisely where you are making money and where you’re not is crucial.
For example, if you spend $2000 on a banner ad campaign, which sends you 3000 visitors, should you renew it? First you must know if you even made your $2000 back, and if you made a profit. Most ad services tell you the number of visitors they sent you, but few can tell you how much money you made from the campaign.
Each marketing campaign, whether it is generating visitors from the search engines, from banner ads, third party links, emails, etc. will have a different sales conversion rate. For example, visitors coming to your site from the search engines are much more likely to make a purchase versus visitors arriving from most other sources. That’s because people doing a search are actively looking for your product or services and thereby are much more likely to make a purchase when they arrive.
The number of sales you generate can also vary widely for each keyword. Ideally, you should be making better use of your time by identifying only keywords that generate the most sales, and thereby focusing the bulk of your efforts there. You could be spending hours gaining a top ranking on a keyword that rarely generates a sale. Other keywords that you thought were relatively unimportant may actually have a high conversion rate.
Sadly, many businesses do a poor job of tracking this type of data. While most businesses have tools to track their basic traffic, most do not know precisely which campaigns and Web links make money and which do not.
Some bite the bullet and spend $2,000 a month (minimum) for services like WebTrend’s E-Commerce Edition. WebTrends offers a nice service, but unfortunately it’s not affordable for many businesses. Others invest thousands of dollars developing custom, in-house solutions that must continually be maintained. Up until recently, that is what we had been doing.
Unfortunately, few good options have been available to the average small business. The need to cost effectively track e-commerce data like sales and ROI (Return On Investment) by how they found you definitely exists. Based on customer feedback, businesses have had difficulty finding good solutions.
Realizing this, we got together with Hitslink last year to develop a powerful, yet affordable way to track e-commerce information. Traditionally, such features have been offered only in expensive, enterprise-level services. This is despite the fact that all businesses both large and small badly need detailed, accurate marketing reports to make intelligent business decisions.
I’m excited to announce that Hitslink has now released an affordable e-commerce tracking solution for all businesses that provides seventeen detailed marketing reports. If you already subscribe to their traffic tracking solution, offered at a discount via WebPosition Gold, then you can get all the new e-commerce features for as little as $5 extra per month depending on your traffic volume. Compare that to alternatives that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the value and usefulness of this new service.
To use Hitslink, you simply add a tracking script to your pages that can be done by hand, or automatically via WebPosition Gold. The e-commerce edition requires an extra tracking script to be added to your order results page to track sales in real-time.
Once set up, you can run a wide array of marketing reports including:
I’m told even more reports are in the works and will be provided at no extra charge in the near future. The beauty of these reports is that they will display the traffic statistics right alongside your sales data. Everything is integrated so you can quickly access all your key Web marketing information from one place, in real-time.
The Activity reports will even quantify how many sales you receive from links to your site from third parties. It will do this even if you’ve never provided them with an affiliate-tracking ID! So, if you’ve ever wondered how much money you are truly making from various sites that link to you, wonder no longer.
We’re currently setting up the scripts now for our own business. I plan to provide a more detailed review of Hitslink’s e-commerce features in future newsletters. However, thus far, I am very impressed with the service — so much so that we plan to scrap the expensive, inefficient system we currently use.
Although anyone can subscribe to the new HitsLink E-Commerce service, WebPosition Gold customers will be pleased to learn that they receive an exclusive discounted price.
Those purchasing WebPosition Gold will receive an additional 90 days of HitsLink service (up to 20,000 hits) for free as part of our agreement with HitsLink. If you already have a Hitslink account, you can try out the new e-commerce features for 30 days simply by logging into your account, clicking Setup, and then ‘Try Enterprise Edition.’
If you have been searching for an easy, affordable way to know exactly what marketing efforts are paying off for your company, look no further. You no longer have to risk wasting money on continuing marketing efforts that are not paying off in tangible sales!
This article is copyrighted and has been reprinted with permission from FirstPlace Software, the makers of WebPosition Gold. FirstPlace Software helped define the SEO industry with the introduction of the first product to track your rankings on the major search engines and to help you improve those rankings. A free trial of WebPosition Gold is available from their Web site.
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