Avatar photo Alex Thompson
Jun 1, 2023

In June 2021, an agency started using WhatConverts to track phone sales to marketing campaigns. They hadn't tried Google Ads before and needed software to ensure their Google Ads budget would drive a healthy marketing ROI.

And with the help of WhatConverts, they could see which leads coming to the client’s site were from PPC and which were from organic or direct.

Now, as they began their ad campaigns over the course of the next few months, the agency noticed something peculiar…

Leads coming in from PPC grew (as you’d expect). But they also saw a pretty sizable jump in direct and organic leads—despite making zero changes to their SEO strategy.

What’s more, their total leads effectively doubled because of this effect.

So, what was behind this mystifying change?

We call them “Bonus Leads.” And today, we’re looking at:

  • What are Bonus Leads, and what causes them?
  • How can they give marketing ROI a healthy boost for marketers like you?
  • What can you do about it?

Let’s get into it.

Case Study: Direct & Organic Leads Coming from PPC?

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    Continuing our story, you can see from the real customer data above that as PPC leads increased, so too did those from both organic and direct.

    In August 2021, the client saw just 15 organic leads and 23 direct leads (compared to 17 leads from ads). But as the client increased their ads budget, leads from all sources continued to grow—not just those from the ads.

    The following months showed the same trend too. September brought in 42 PPC leads with 42 organic and 41 direct. October was 105 PPC alongside 84 organic and 58 direct.

    And at the peak in November, there were 99 organic leads and 116 direct leads coming in, along with 179 from PPC.

    Clearly, as PPC leads rose, so too did organic and direct leads.

    Now maybe you’re thinking, “Well, how do we know this is all connected to PPC ads?”

    Good question.

    Take a look at this.

    In December 2021, the client actually ran out of the product they were advertising. So they began reducing their PPC ads budget.

    Now watch what happens when they drop their ad spend.

    See how all the leads—including organic and direct—dropped too?

    If PPC ads had no effect on these leads, they should have remained stable. And even into January of the following year, the trend continues.

    Clearly, PPC ads are somehow producing direct and organic leads.

    So the question is…

    What’s Really Happening Here?

    Now, we know running ads does not directly affect how you rank organically on Google.

    Google’s even explicitly said as much:

    “Investment in paid search has no impact on your organic search ranking. Google maintains a strict separation between our search business and our advertising business.”

    But we also know that PPC can have indirect effects on your SEO.

    And one of those effects is Bonus Leads.

    This is when prospects who see your ad will not convert on it. Instead, they’ll engage with your brand in one of three ways.

    First, they’ll see your ad. But then they’ll:

    • Type in the homepage URL rather than converting on the ad.
    • Scroll further down and click on your organic links instead of the ad.
    • Head to a review site, do research on your product, and decide weeks (or months later) to finally make a purchase decision and buy through your site, not through the ad—especially common for higher-ticket products or services.

    But in all three of these cases, it’s seeing your ad in the first place that’s driving the action.

    And ultimately, the leads your ads produce are “bonuses” because they’re being attributed to organic and direct, not PPC where they belong.

    How Can Accounting for Bonus Leads Help Marketers?

    Okay, so who cares?

    As a marketer, maybe you’ve noticed this trend before. And as far as you can tell, you’ve been getting by just fine.

    Well as it turns out, there are three major benefits that accounting for Bonus Leads can create for marketers.

    Benefit #1: A Healthier (& More Accurate) Marketing ROI

    The biggest benefit behind scooping up these Bonus Leads is that they’re going to give a healthy boost to your marketing ROI.

    As a marketer, the value you produce for your clients is based on leads.

    • These are the leads we generated
    • This is the quality of those leads
    • This is the revenue those leads created for your business

    All of that adds up to the return on investment of your marketing efforts. And that is the language your clients speak—was it worth the money we put into it?

    Now, if as much as 50% of those leads aren’t rightly attributed to your ads, adding them to your calculations isn’t just a free boost in your marketing ROI. It’s actually a more accurate measurement of the value of your efforts.

    And what marketer doesn’t want that?

    Benefit #2: A Much Leaner Cost Per Lead (CPL)

    Another benefit of spotting Bonus Leads for marketers is that it can significantly drop the cost per lead (CPL) of your campaigns.

    And that can make it 10X easier to convince clients to increase ad spend (and grow your ROI).

    For instance, say you’re working with a new client. And after a few months of PPC campaigns, you start making the business case for boosting their budget.

    Now, you’re already achieving a healthy CPL.

    But to even further convince your client to increase their ad spend, you tell them the CPL is likely even lower because of Bonus Leads. And with the right tools in hand, you show them how month over month, their PPC is likely bringing in a sizeable chunk of organic and direct leads, thus driving down their CPL even further.

    And voila—it’s the cherry on top they needed to up their budget.

    Benefit #3: More Budget-Confident Clients

    Now, the third benefit ties back to a challenge even the most skilled marketers face—client budget management.

    When you account for Bonus Leads, you can build budget confidence and prevent clients from shifting budget away from your marketing based on misrepresentative data.

    For instance, say your client sees a steady rise in organic leads coming in alongside your ads thanks to Bonus Leads. Eventually, those organic leads make up 50% of all leads coming into the site (the other 50% being directly from your ads).

    In this scenario, it wouldn’t be surprising to think that your client might start pulling budget away from PPC and reinvesting into SEO instead.

    After all, there are some very real benefits to investing in SEO over PPC.

    And suddenly, your budget is slashed (as is your marketing ROI).

    However, say you have the tools to prove to clients that these organic leads are actually being driven by your PPC. Now it’s easy for them to see that your ads are the real heroes here—no need to shift budget away.

    Bonus Leads Aren’t a Challenge—They’re an Opportunity

    As you can see, Bonus Leads for marketers carry some very real benefits.

    The trick is accounting for them.

    Here’s how:

    1. Demonstrate Expertise

    Knowledge is power. And the more you know about your industry, the more you can drive trust with your clients.

    Inform your account stakeholders that (although most marketers don’t know it) PPC can actually boost organic and direct traffic before starting campaigns.

    This will both show you know what you’re doing and set expectations for the future.

    2. Incorporate Bonus Leads Into Your Strategy

    Don’t just rely on Google Ads landing pages to do all the heavy lifting for you. Instead, structure your sites as a whole for organic and direct traffic.

    You may have to do a bit of work on implementing SEO best practices and connecting landing pages within the site. But the efforts will be well worth it for your organic and direct leads.

    3. Measure It!

    Bonus Leads only provide a benefit when you can see them.

    And that means you’ve got to have the right tools.

    Tools that…

    • Collect the data you need to see which leads are coming from organic, direct, and PPC
    • Make it easy to organize leads by source so you can quickly and easily spot trends
    • Provide interactive reports that let you show clients the trends between organic/direct lead shifts that correlate with your PPC spend

    And guess what? You get all that and more with WhatConverts.

    Pretty cool, huh?

    Wrapping Up

    If you’ve seen a jump in direct and organic leads for your clients after launching ads, it’s not your imagination.

    That’s Bonus Leads at work.

    And when you account for them, you can unlock benefits like:

    • A healthier and more accurate ROI
    • A much leaner cost per lead (CPL)
    • More budget-confident clients

    And that makes it easier for you to prove and grow your marketing ROI.

    Start capturing your Bonus Leads by beginning your free 14-day trial of WhatConverts today.

    Read WhatConverts reviews on G2

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    Alex Thompson

    Alex Thompson is a professional copywriter and content writer with a passion for turning complex ideas into digestible, educational content that keeps readers engaged. He specializes in content marketing, SEO, and B2B marketing.

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