One of the most dangerous trends emerging is that B2B marketers, and their extended search-marketing resources, are regularly making bad decisions based on "solid analytics data."

Because as a consultant I work with various companies, I learn certain lessons much more quickly than, say, someone who is working only within his or her company and is therefore not privy to the same variety of information and experiences.

And I'm finding that all too often marketers are deciding to spend either more or less money based solely on the conversion rate of how a certain search phrase, ad creative, or banner ad performs: in other words, the percentage of people who visited the site and requested a whitepaper, a demo, etc.

While conversion rate, in the context of an analytics report, is one way to measure the effectiveness a search phrase, it can be extremely misleading.

For an example, let's take two search phrases from the same campaign: "Green IT" vs. "Systems Management."

You can see in the following screenshot that...

  • "Systems Management" delivered 66 visitors, and 1.52% of them converted to a whitepaper.
  • "Green IT" delivered 47 visitors, and 17.02% converted to a whitepaper.

The "Green IT" phrase is the hands down winner, right? Well, maybe not!

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Todd Miechiels is a B2B Internet marketing consultant who specializes in search engine marketing and Web site visitor conversion. Reach him via