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Breaking the Conversion Tracking Myth

One of the greatest things about digital marketing is the ability to clearly track user activity and return on ad spend. Traditional media, while great for achieving awareness that may lead to eventual action and/or sales, does not provide much ability to measure success that is directly and definitively attributable to specific advertising campaigns. Digital media, on the other hand, offers advertisers the opportunity to see specific actions taken by users and even sales dollars generated from their advertising efforts. An action driven and measured from a digital media campaign is typically called a conversion. However, not all conversions are created equal. Most people think of hard conversions when they hear the word – such as purchases, new customer signups, and so on. These conversions are the truest measures of success and allow you to take a step further and measure information like return on investment (ROI), return on ad spend (ROAS), and customer acquisition cost (CAC). All these metrics can be a boon for marketers who are trying to drive an action that can be tracked in this fashion. But what about the companies that don’t offer a hard conversion? How can a brand that doesn’t have a purchase action, a lead event, or any other similar result, still see success from conversion tracking? The answer, our friends, is soft conversions.

What is a Soft Conversion?

Soft conversions can be classified as actions taken by a user that do not result in a new customer or lead (like a purchase or form-fill), but still provide a trackable method of gauging success for a brand. Soft conversions are upper-funnel or mid-funnel in nature, but still afford marketers the ability to track some sort of return from direct-response campaigns. Think of a nonprofit organization that wants to spread the word about a cause. What would you track? They’re not offering anything for sale or purchase, and they’re not looking to solicit signups. They just want to promote information about the cause that they believe is important for their audience to know. Enter soft conversions. Through tracking technologies like Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager, digital marketers can set up conversion tracking on just about anything. Maybe said nonprofit would be interested in tracking website engagement (users who visit 5+ pages after clicking an ad could be considered a soft conversion). Perhaps they have a video or link with more information about their cause (video views and link clicks can be tracked and counted as a soft conversion). Whatever they may decide to track, soft conversions provide a way to measure success that otherwise would not be available.

Why Should We Care About Conversion Tracking?

All direct response digital marketers have the same goal – to generate response directly from their target audiences. There are some digital metrics, such as clicks and engagements, that can give a glimpse at how people are interacting with ads. But is the ultimate goal of digital marketing to only get interactivity with the ads themselves? No! Digital advertisers are yearning for that extra step to be taken. They need to know if an action was taken after the ad click or ad exposure that will increase the likelihood of gaining a customer or a supporter. Otherwise, perhaps all the marketing dollars spent on a campaign could be wasted. Businesses with hard conversions have this covered, but tracking soft conversions allows all businesses to enter the party. By tracking and measuring soft conversions, digital marketers have the ability to analyze facets of campaigns that drive performance. Then, as time progresses, digital campaign efforts can be optimized based on learnings. With the ability to analyze and optimize using soft conversions, the likelihood increases of reaching people who are most likely to become a customer of your product or brand, even if there is no immediate hard conversion available.

Soft Conversions with The Ward Group

Oftentimes we encounter clients who believe they can’t be successful with digital media since they don’t have a hard conversion to offer. That’s understandable, but don’t fall victim to the belief that if you don’t have a purchase to offer or a lead to generate, you can’t make an impact with direct response digital advertising. Our digital media stewards stand ready to take your digital media strategy to the next level with the use of soft (or hard) conversions, whatever you need!

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