Problem: Doubled ad budget, strong lead jump, then persistent decline for 30 day period
Our KPI’s: Daily goal counts in Google Analytics
Primary Paid Traffic Sources: Adwords, Facebook Ads
The worst thing you can do with your client’s trust and your client’s money is to ‘set it and forget it”. For us at Claim Your Space we understand that the ride isn’t always a smooth one—but we absolutely pride ourselves on being able to quickly identify the source of a change in performance and identify root causes. Sometimes we’re looking for the cause so we can fix what’s broken. And other times we’re looking to isolate something in a complex marketing mix that’s standing out for high performance.
This story is about the former—when something goes haywire. It’s no fun—I’ve been there. Be urgent, but have patience and faith in your ability to figure it out using your tools and knowledge.
Of course depending on the situation there can be more than one thing going on. In this case there were three entirely separate issues contributing to a persistent decline in lead volume for this client.
What Went Wrong
- Reporting Issues in Google Analytics
- Rendering and Form Issues on Website
- Changes in Ad Conversion Rate from Facebook Traffic
Rendering and Form Issues on Website
Be aware that any significant web development project will 100% most certainly have an impact on lead generation. Exactly how things will be impacted is difficult to predict, but the important part is that you’re measuring your KPI’s and you know them by heart.
Our client had a good idea. They wanted to make their website faster. We agree totally. Faster website invariably convert better. We got on board and partnered with their web dev team to test and launch a tweaked version of their website which included some fairly significant architecture changes most notably:
- Move hosting from Rackspace to AWS
- Advanced CSS and JS aggregation
- Move to CDN system
The resulting site was faster indeed—perviously averaging 4+ seconds to load, now just over 3 second—a 25% reduction. But had a few hidden surprises.
The first was easy to find, but interestedly didn’t present itself until everything was moved to live environments. Forms on interior pages where not submitting correctly. In the absence of huge budgets for web development—many small and midsize companies don’t have a rigorous ‘development, staging, and production’ server environment for testing changes to their websites. The moral of the story here is simple. When you’re doing web dev, test your user paths yourself, form fills for example. Do it on the live site, when it’s live, on it’s final host, and will all the bells and whistles and fancy performance turning turned on. Then test it again.
The second was tricker. Suffice to say the lesson is the same—testing until you’re blue. But this time it was something I hadn’t seem before. After our performance improvements it turned out that sending clicks to the website using UTM parameters (aka, every single click on any paid media we’re buying for a client cuz we’re of course tagging it) was causing a quirky .js error, only effecting mobile browsers that made the main navigation menu button unclickable. The .js error cascaded and also ended up effecting live chat functionally and display on mobile.
And with +70% of site traffic mobile, and +30% of conversions coming from live chat—you can do the math. Not ideal.
Once we got the website settled down we were cautiously optimistic. But thankfully we kept monitoring and measuring.
Reporting Issues in Google Analytics
Strike this one up to being penny wise and pound foolish. You can see from the snapshot above website call conversions are a big deal for this client—just like live chats. In this case roughly 35% of total conversions.
We use Callrail for call conversion tracking. Outstanding product. Nicely designed for agencies with multiple clients too with ability to quickly set up different ‘companies’.
Our client had a totally separate project going on with a totally separate website. We set up the new site with Callrail tracking and instead of creating a new company within our account, with the additional cost—we created a new tracking number within the original company. Then we linked the new number to an additional GA profile and in doing so temporarily blew out our call tracking for this site. Notice anything missing here?
Changes in Ad Conversion Rate from Facebook Traffic
I can easily say this has been the most insidious of the three issues. But this is just another reason why we measure traffic quality constantly and always keep our eye on the ball—because things change. Especially with Facebook traffic.
When we first increased our digital budgets Facebook traffic was leading all other channels in performance measured by lead volume and cost per lead. Then we started see something we never like to see—increasing traffic, with decreasing leads. Dimensioning return on ad spend. No beuno.
The cause of this decline in effectiveness in our ad spend on Facebook will be the topic of another post, but for our purposes here it’s just important to note that we spotted the issue by understanding our expected weekly lead volume, noticing the shortfall, and tracing some of the cause back to a particular channel.
- Personally test your landing page URL’s on your live site
- Personally test all your forms on your live site
- Expect lead gen issues and puzzles whenever you move a website
- Watch for changes in traffic quality by source or campaign
- Try using Google Analytics shortcut views to quickly access goals by channel, then set up those reports to be emailed to you daily