By Amanda Crangle

Imagine you’re sitting in your office when one of your water-treatment specialists calls you from the road. He has just tested the water of a private well and clearly communicated, in no uncertain terms, that this one is a doozy.

He begins to relive the events of the appointment, starting with the homeowners walking him into their bathroom, lifting the lid of the toilet tank, and gagging over the mixture of the smell and slime ominously lingering at the top and along the sides of the tank. A full lab analysis is in order.

Imagine, then, at this moment, your water-treatment specialist decides to quote a system based on what he thinks will fix the problem instead of waiting for the results of the water test.


Applying a solution without understanding the data is a big mis­take when treating water. The data provided from the water test tells a story of what’s in the water so you know what application will fix the actual problem. It will also tell you if different equip­ment will work cohesively to address the issue or if the combi­nation will cause more problems than the one you’re trying to fix.

The same is true when we look at marketing. The challenge becomes sifting through the huge amounts of data to find the key metrics that will matter most in an effort to transform your marketing from an expense to an investment that produces positive returns.

In the age of information overload, when you can find a peer-reviewed, “scientific” study to back up any outcome you already believe is true, can anyone know what are lies, damn lies, or just statistics?

First, whoever is performing your marketing efforts must have goals that align with yours.

If the goal of your marketing is to acquire new customers at a profit, then that should be the goal of your marketing team.

Your team members should also have a system in place to track what happens to the leads that are sent to you, and there should be a way for you to communicate to them what happened to that lead.

Second, you must have clearly defined key performance indicators that are communicated and understood by you, your team, and your marketing partner.

Having your sales team and other key staff on board with these metrics helps tremendously. Active participation and buy-in will hold all team members accountable for the role they play in the process.

Third, you must know how tweaks to each metric can impact other metrics so strategic decisions can be made.

It’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction when you see website traffic plummet. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the marketing effort failed. Understanding the why behind each metric can keep you from over- or underreacting.

These three principles will help you to develop a sustainable marketing strategy that yields tangible growth for your business. Now that the principles are laid out, let’s dive into what many companies use to track the effectiveness of their digital marketing.

Metric #1
c: How many people visited your website?

Without people (aka traffic, users, or hits) coming to your web­site or a Google listing or social media page, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be generating any interest or leads for your business.

So traffic is a metric that matters. For traffic, the metric we look at is new users. This metric can be found in Google Analytics, which is a free tool to track website visitor data.

A user is a single person. A “new user” means an individual is visiting your site for the first time. If you’re in e-commerce, overall users may be a better metric, especially if people make recurring purchases when they visit.

For local water-treatment dealers, new users is a great metric because these dealers may have a lot of returning traffic, with existing customers looking for service or billing information.

For our example, let’s say you have 1,250 new users in a month’s time. Keep this number in mind for the third metric.

Metric #2
Conversions: What actions did people take?

Just as you wouldn’t hire a salesperson to generate prospects, your website’s primary goal shouldn’t be just to attract people. Your website’s visitors need to take action. The question then becomes, what action do you consider the highest value?

For those in the local-dealer space, many companies value form submissions and phone calls. People just browsing and clicking are great. However, the goal is to get them to contact you through forms, calls, and live chat.

You can create events in Google Analytics for each of these actions so you can measure them accurately. For calls, you can use call-tracking numbers and a process called dynamic number insertion. (To understand how dynamic number insertion works, see the Modern Marketing article in the February 2023 issue of WC&P.)

For example, let’s say you had 32 form submissions, 109 phone calls, and 8 live-chat engagements in a month. Your total conversion would be 149.

Metric #3
Conversion Rate: What percentage of people took action?

When we divide the total conversion metric by traffic, we get the website conversion rate. This metric matters because when we try new marketing campaigns and add in a new source of traffic, such as Facebook Ads, we can see how this new traffic source impacts conversion rates.

A drop in conversion rate doesn’t mean the new traffic is bad. It could mean the users are less knowledgeable and earlier on in the customer journey. Therefore, adding an email opt-in to get access to a guide for water treatment may help to educate these new people and convert them down the road.

Either way, this metric will give you an idea of how changes in your marketing are affecting how people take action on the website, helping you and your marketing team make strategic decisions on how to move forward successfully.

In this example, the calculation would look like this: 149 (total conversions) ÷ 1,250 (new users) = 11.92 percent conversion rate.

Metric #4
Leads: Which people were qualifi
ed leads?

Most businesses in this industry rely on leads to grow sales. If you’re in the e-commerce industry, you can replace this metric directly with sales.

Just because someone fills out a form or gives you a call does not mean that person is a qualified lead. Our definition of a lead is someone who has never done business with you; is in­terested in doing business with you now; provides a name, an email address, and a phone number; and is located in the physical area you serve.

It takes some effort to track this metric, but the benefits of doing so are worth the time invested. When done properly, you’ll know what percentage of calls and form submissions were leads versus current customers, vendors, or solicitors. The best way to measure this data is to track which marketing channels (e.g., paid ads, organic searches, social media, or online directories), ads, and keywords produce the most leads cost-effectively and provide recommendations on how to adjust budget and strategy to get more.

Let’s say out of the 149 total conversions, 52 were qualified leads. The remaining were customers or other types of inquiries. Keep these numbers in mind for the sample calculation for the sixth metric.

Metric #5
Total Monthly Online Marketing Investment: How much money was invested in acquiring these leads?

This metric includes the following:

  1. The retainer, or the monthly amount you’re paying a market­ing agency. If you handle your digital marketing in-house, you can allocate the associated salaries. If you have multiple partners handling different aspects of your digital marketing, include all of what you’re paying.
  2. Paid ad spend, which includes all online advertising. Examples include Google pay-per-click, Bing Ads, social media ads, and display or geofencing advertising.
  3. Any other costs directly related to keeping your web presence up and running, for example, if you have your own call-tracking account, use a service to manage your online listings, or are investing in a web developer to handle website maintenance separately from your marketing partner.

An example might look like this: $1,500 (agency fee) + $3,845.43 (paid ads) + $94 (call tracking) + $299 (web development) = $5,738.43 total online investment.

Metric #6
Investment Per Lead: On average, how much money was invested in acquiring a lead?

This metric may be the most valuable, as it will tell you exactly how much you paid to acquire this person who is interested in doing business with you. When you do this for all your marketing channels, you see a clear picture of how to adjust your budgets to maximize returns. When this is communicated internally and with your marketing team, it empowers people to make decisions that benefit your business.

This metric is calculated by dividing the number of leads by your total online investment. In our example, it looks like this: $5,738.43 (total investment) ÷ 52 (leads) = $110.35 per qualified lead.

The water treatment industry’s average lead cost hovers around $150, with cost per appointment at $300, so you can roughly benchmark to these estimates.

Putting It All Together
Just like measuring hardness, iron, total dissolved solids, and pH can give a solid foundation of data to make a decision on how to move forward with water treatment, these marketing metrics will do the same for helping you and your team make wise decisions to grow your business through lead generation.

Every business is different, just like every water supply is different. While these metrics have served our clients well, you may want to tweak them or add to them for your unique situation. The most important thing is to start accurately measuring and keeping track of data and trends. Now more than ever, investing marketing dollars where it will produce the best return is vital and will help keep you gaining market share in all economic climates.

About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treatment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager. She and her team are passionate about expanding consumer awareness of water quality issues and providing education on final barrier solutions.


Comments are closed.