Online marketing is our area of focus and when given a limited marketing budget, online is where we'd choose to spend it. But that's not to say offline/traditional advertising campaigns are obsolete or don't produce a return. How much of a return isn't always clear, but with the ability to measure online engagement, we can start to get an idea. That is to say in 2010, most offline brand and promotional campaigns will have a great impact online. By using the proper methods and techniques, we can measure these online impacts, developing an understanding for how effective our offline campaigns really are.
Here are five simple, yet effective methods for tying the knot between offline and online advertising.
Buy a new domain name (not a new website), just the domain name. So for example, your current site is www.acmehomesva.com and you want to do a big marketing push promoting the great experience customers have in the new homes you build. In this case, you might buy acmeexperience.com. Then in your next offline marketing campaign, you only promote the acmeexperience.com web address.
"But wait, Chris! You said we're not building a new website!" That's still correct. All we do is take the new web address and redirect it - or forward - the visitor to your existing website. By making a few modifications here and there, we can track everyone who came to the original website but originally typed acmeexperience.com into their browser. From here we can analyze the traffic in Google Analytics and separate the acmeexperience.com visitors to better understand volume and onsite behavior.
The concept of coded URLs is similar to the vanity URLs, but work slightly better in a promotional application (at least, in my opinion). Here's how it works.
Your site is acme.com. This month you're running a promotion where a customer can win a cruise vacation. Instead of buying a new web address like in the previous example, simply promote acme.com/cruise in all offline campaigns. When someone types this address, it redirects them to acme.com/promo/sweeps/pdsgf97032473-1a.com (or something else that's unreadable) where they can begin to register. Since they entered from acme.com/cruise and we know this address was only promoted offline, we can attribute all visitors to the offline campaign.
Ahh, Adwords. You never fail to disappoint. Buying some Google Adwords advertising for your brand name or promotion name is a great and instantaneous way to capture curious searchers. Here's a scenario:
You're running a promotional campaign using a character (think of the Old Spice Guy). While the idea is to get people to the Old Spice site or to buy Old Spice Deodorant, I would also recommend they buy Google Advertising for "Old Spice Guy." This way, when someone says, "YOU HAVE TO GO GOOGLE 'OLD SPICE GUY.' HE'S HILARIOUS," your ad shows up directing people to the Old Spice Guy section of your site. Not only does it give you a sense for how well the campaign worked, but it gives you insight into how well people took to the character.
This is another effective strategy that has a couple great benefits. The scenario is you run a promotion for 10% off a purchase but require customers enter a promo code on purchase to get their discount. When doing this I recommend modifying the code based on the specific channel you ran the promotion. For example, if you advertise on Q94, make the promotion code "q94." If you advertise on the Jackie show at 4pm, make the promo code "jackie." Not only does the promotion entice visitors to take action, but they are essentially telling you exactly how they heard about it.
Measuring Direct/Branded Traffic Impact
If you plan on doing any offline advertising and also have a website, this method should be used - no matter if you use some or all of the methods above.
Whenever we try to get people to do something "special" (e.g. visit a specific web address, use a promotional code, etc) it's inevitable that some people won't get it right and will rely on just coming to your website and hoping to see what they're looking for. Beyond that, it's always likely that in doing a promotional campaign you're also building your brand and top of mind awareness to the market place. The way to measure these effects is to monitor two specific traffic sources during the time you run these campaigns.
First, measure any fluctuations in direct traffic (i.e. traffic that came directly to your website by typing in your web address or clicking a bookmark). If you notice any spike in this channel during the time period you ran your offline campaigns, all else being equal, you can comfortably attribute most of the impact to the offline campaign.
The other channel to closely monitor is branded search traffic. Branded search traffic is simply traffic that came from a search engine but INCLUDED your brand name in the search. These are people who know your brand but don't know your website. Also, there are people who choose to type "yoursite.com" into Google instead of the address bar (admit it, you've been guilty of this at some point).
Monitor any fluctuations in this traffic source along with direct traffic to understand how the offline campaign is influencing online behavior. If you see direct and branded traffic spike 33% during the 5 days you ran your radio campaign and then drop off almost instantly, you probably have the radio campaign to thank for that boost in traffic. Segment those channels and look for how well they did in completing your website goals. If online conversion rate doubled during this 5 day period, radio may be a good place to explore with more budget.
So how about you? Are you advertising offline? What efforts are being made the measure the impact online? There are so many wonderful and "easy-to- implement" methods to get a real sense for how your offline dollars impact your online presence. Are you taking advantage of them? If so, how?