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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugliness Of Conversion Code

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In my mind, one of the best and worst inventions for Internet marketing conversion code.

I remember it well, about 5 years ago, when it was released to AdWords. I could qualify the work I’ve been doing for an old eCcommerce employer. He was very ROI focused because he was, well, cheap (not at all generalizing a business who rightfully cares about revenue as cheap). This boss didn’t buy into internet marketing even though he was running an internet store. So this code – which I had to map cart variables too – helped me justified the good work I was doing in my job. While many industry peers were frustrated by the extra scrutiny they were getting, I was actually saved.

But conversion code isn’t everything. It’s not supposed to be. It has its place.

Online analytics is still really young. Now, we have great conversion tracking, and more advanced attribution modeling. But only a few years ago, it was all about impressions and CTR. Basic analytics told us a little of the story, and forced us to take chances. Now, with more of the story, I truly believe many of us find ourselves backed into an ROI corner in which we are afraid to press against. Did these better bullets make us cocky?

“Bullets are great. But you don’t win a war with firepower. It’s with strategy and tactics.”

I had three fortune cookies today with lunch, and this is what they said:

  • All channels are not created equal
  • Old school marketing isn’t dead, it’s been reinvented
  • AdWords is advertising – a “piece” of marketing

I think for many conversion tracking created and atmosphere for marketers to worry about performance to the dollar versus creativity on the web. On the web, creativity is vital and clearly yields bigger results when you strike gold. Creativity with focus speaks to more segmented audiences, which we now know are even more plentiful than we did before the web. General analytics and demos let us focus on those audiences, but data on whether they convert on the last click does not tell the full story. It answers the immediate need of passing a report to your boss, but it doesn’t always lead to the lifetime value.

Marketing is, and should always be about risk taking. If you’re not taking risks, you’re playing on the same level as not hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of other tepid companies. Marketing is also about developing strategies as you build. Tying yourself to ROI alone hurts you in the long run if you’re the kind of company that needs to be competitive. If you disagree, are you really being effective marketers and doing the w0rk the internet demands? Is it our job to encourage options and opportunity? Or is our job to keep stay in a box?

Would love your opinions.


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    Comments

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    1. Steve
      November 9, 2010

      hi Bill,

      I love the picture of Clint Eastwood!
      And yes, marketing, and life in general, is much more interesting when you take a few risks. :)
      Steve

      Reply


    2. Steve
      November 9, 2010

      hi Bill,

      I love the picture of Clint Eastwood!
      And yes, marketing, and life in general, is much more interesting when you take a few risks. :)
      Steve

      Reply


    3. Bill
      November 18, 2010

      Bill

      - Good post.

      While Analytics has come a long way, many still look at its quantitative nature as producing absolute facts. Since truly understanding performance requires a more holistic approach, many in the fast-paced business world develop a myopic view. Ultimately this not only kills off creativity, but also a deeper understanding of performance. The result is the type of poor understanding that would lead some to ask questions like “What’s the ROI on an H1 Tag.”

      Reply


    4. Bill
      November 18, 2010

      Bill

      - Good post.

      While Analytics has come a long way, many still look at its quantitative nature as producing absolute facts. Since truly understanding performance requires a more holistic approach, many in the fast-paced business world develop a myopic view. Ultimately this not only kills off creativity, but also a deeper understanding of performance. The result is the type of poor understanding that would lead some to ask questions like “What’s the ROI on an H1 Tag.”

      Reply


    5. Chris Terretan
      November 23, 2010

      Couldn’t agree more. That’s why hacky advertisers only bid on brand terms. Safe. But they only go so far…

      Reply


    6. Chris Terretan
      November 23, 2010

      Couldn’t agree more. That’s why hacky advertisers only bid on brand terms. Safe. But they only go so far…

      Reply