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A client of mine sells software and has a Web site describing the offering—its many features, and its many benefits.

The client turned to me to help judiciously cut the thousands of dollars per month it was spending on pay-per-click keywords with Google and Overture.

These folks knew which keywords were bringing in the most traffic and which were costing them the most. But which keywords were worth the cost? They couldn't say.

They found and downloaded a rather inexpensive Web analytics tool from ClickTracks that seemed to be designed for their dilemma. By incorporating data from pay-per-click engines and e-commerce systems, it displays the cost per click correlated with the revenue spent by those doing the clicking.

There, side by side, were the costs of each keyword and the monies they generated. “I know half of my advertising dollar is being wasted, I just don't know which half” is now a phrase of the past.

Only one problem—my client doesn't sell software online. At $15,000 and up, it's not something you'd whip out a credit card to buy. Sold to organizations, it's one of those products that take a village (or a committee) to purchase. My client knows which keywords bring traffic, but not which ones bring good, qualified traffic or traffic that is more likely to turn into money someday.

So I asked what I ask every client: What is the purpose of your Web site? What's it for?

To teach people about our software.


So they'll buy it.

But they can't buy it online, can they?

Well, no.

So what do you want people to do?

Get in touch with us for a demo so we can convince them to buy.

And how can you measure whether they're doing that?

By counting the number of people who call, email or fill out the contact form.

And how do you correlate that number with the keyword they searched for?


Oh, indeed.

So we talked about the Hot Spots on the site. These are the pages that tell you whether visitors are more or less likely to be prospective customers. The most obvious is if they hit the Contact Us page. Whether they actually get in touch by calling, writing or sending smoke signals is another question. For the moment, it's safe to assume that those who go to the Contact Us page are more likely to become customers than those who do not.

In sales, you're taught to listen for buying questions. Does it come in green? Can I take it for a test drive? How much does it cost?

Such questions indicate a higher level of interest than the casual passerby. So, if the visitor should drill down to the fourth or fifth level of product detail, should land on the Schedule a Demo page, or click on the blue words that spell Price List, it's a sure sign he or she didn't get to your home page by mistake.

The task for the Web analytics tool was much simpler than integrating sales data; it need only match up the search term to the page view, something the least expensive version of ClickTracks does with ease.

More people who searched on term number one looked at the price and asked for a demo than people who searched for term number two. But nobody who searched on keyword three did either.

My client was getting more traffic from term three and spending more for it per click than terms one and two put together. Dropping term three from the pay-per-click roster cut costs in half and had no effect whatsoever on the number of leads coming from the Web site.

The value of a promotional campaign does not have to start and end with sales. Identify the Hot Spots on your site and set up a tracking system. You can tie visits to those Hot Spots to banner ads, email marketing campaigns, e-zine advertising and search terms.

And once you know which are pulling in the right people, you can cut the wasted effort and concentrate on conversion.

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image of Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne ( is the founder and director of Target Marketing (, founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association.