Adam T. Sutton

Slow Converting PPC Clicks

I spoke with several paid search experts over the last two weeks for an article about timing PPC ads to optimize performance, and an interesting side-topic came up.

Seeing which PPC clicks are helping your bottom line is not always crystal clear. For example, a consumer may click an ad on Saturday and purchase the advertised item on Tuesday. These slow-converting, or latent clicks help drive sales. But by how much?

One way you can help figure this out is by looking to see whether an ad’s search phrase contains branded terms. Branded searches are likely driven by another marketing channel — because the consumer knew your brand name. Conversions on generic, non-branded search terms signal that your PPC ad had a much stronger influence on the sale.

You can track these slow-converting clicks using cookies — but even that can be challenging. Consumers often search the Web at work on one computer, and surf at home on another. Unless you’re able to connect those two machines, you’ll likely be missing some clicks that later become sales.

The lesson here is you should track the behavior of consumers who click your ads as well as you can. Doing so will give you a better idea of which clicks are driving delayed sales, and that information can help you better allocate your spending.

Have you found a good way to uncover slow-converting clicks? Has it helped you much? Let us know in the comments…

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Online Advertising, Online Marketing, Research And Measurement, Search Marketing



  1. April 26th, 2010 at 11:48 | #1

    Great article. I agree it can be hard to track conversions at times. I like to install conversion tracking code so that I can see which ads and keywords are converting and which are not. Then I optimize by getting rid of the non converting keywords. Otherwise it is just guessing. Great article!

  2. April 26th, 2010 at 13:50 | #2

    I think the assumption that “Branded searches are likely driven by another marketing channel” is one that should be challenged by every online advertiser. Why can’t the paid search channel also stimulate awareness, drive demand and allow brands to be added to the consideration set? Paid search is not only a transactional channel, but a proven channel to drive awareness and fill what is commonly referred to as the top of the funnel, and when this happens there are two key metrics that usually follow ; latency and branded search over-riding general search. I agree with the premise that latency is important to discover the true value of your clicks, and recommend coupling it with attribution reporting (Google just launched Search Funnels) to challenge the assumption “brand searches are likely driven by another marketing channel”. I think paid search deserves more credit.

  3. April 27th, 2010 at 08:55 | #3

    Hi Michael,

    You’re absolutely right: paid search can drive demand. Someone conducting a branded search might have discovered the brand during earlier searches, which points back to the latency issue. Which keywords drove the brand awareness, which led to a branded search, which led to a conversion? Only strong analytics, it seems, can show consumers’ true behavior.

  4. May 17th, 2010 at 16:01 | #4

    A recent client had this issue, with the added twist that their sales close over the phone instead of online, where they originate.

    We developed what I called the “First Touch Coupon Code Generator.”

    The idea is, a user visits the site and we track that with a cookie, just like you advise. But, then we use the referral source (Google natural, Google paid, etc), instantly, to generate a compelling offer with a coupon “code.”

    The business can easily translate that code to see 1, where they came from, and 2, when they first visited. That way, if they redeem the coupon, we’re able to track them based on the computer they used when printing, which is more likely to be the first touch.

    The key to this is of course that the offer is compelling enough for a customer to print it on their initial visit.

    http://www.webmalama.com/website-development/referral-coupon-code-generator/

  5. July 5th, 2010 at 00:02 | #5

    Google just threw in conversion funnels when using ppc conversions inside their adwords programs where they do show you all the metrics being discussed such as assisting clicks, days to convert clicks to convert, impressions to, you get the idea. It has to be one of the best improvements in the 6+ years I have been rolling the dice with google adwords… enjoy!

  1. August 25th, 2011 at 03:02 | #1