"I know that half of my advertising is wasted - I just don't know which half." That's a famous quote from John Wanamaker, a successful merchant in the 1800’s and considered by many to be the father of advertising. His comment underscores the challenges that marketers have had since the beginning of time – how do I know if my marketing is working and what elements are working better than others?
Add to this challenge the difficult economic times in which we find ourselves and it is not surprising that Forrester Research, a leading marketing and technology research firm, reported that the greatest internal challenges facing marketing executives today is "proving results to the executive team to garner support and budget for marketing activities". In fact, in the chart below, this challenge was ranking first more than twice than any other choice. In another study, marketing executives ranked "Marketing ROI" as the single most important issue in 2010.
We all know that to succeed at building a strong brand name and generating sales, a mix of different marketing strategies and tactics are best. Doing only radio and TV advertising, or only advertising in the newspapers or online will get you results, but you may be missing a large part of your target market. Not everyone gets their information from the same sources. Some people shop in the newspaper, while others shop online. Some people listen to radio stations during their commute while others listen to satellite radio. With the emergence of DVR’s, most of us don’t watch TV commercials anymore. The point is - you have to mix up your marketing tactics to achieve the best results.
The challenge is how to measure marketing success. Remember, even the "father of advertising" wasn’t sure which half of his marketing worked. Fortunately, a few things have changed since the 1800’s – most notably the emergence of the internet and other technology based products and services, which have significantly improved our ability to measure everything, even marketing spend. However, there remain many elusive aspects of measuring the effectiveness of marketing activities.
Can you confidently answer any of the following questions with quantitative data?
- Do I know how well my radio and TV advertising efforts are working?
- When I sponsor events, do I get an adequate return on my marketing investment?
- When I do a direct mail campaign, can I say how many leads were generated?
- Are my networking activities paying off for me and increasing my top-of-mind-awareness?
In most cases your honest answer is likely "no". But it doesn’t have to be. Moreover, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to set up methods that change your answer to "yes". The solution is comprised of a little creativity along with web analytics data.
Using Web Analytics Data to Measure Offline Marketing Activities
A Little Creativity + the Right Web Analytics Configuration = More Productive Marketing
One of the many beauties of the web is that every click, every online activity can be measured if you have your web analytics data set up right. Unfortunately, most companies either don’t know about or haven’t taken the time to invest in customized web analytics. Recently, Forrester Research reported that 73% of websites have some kind of data measurement tool, but less than half are being used to make important decisions. This is a huge shortcoming and represents opportunities to improve marketing ROI and/or reduce expenses – perhaps as much as 20% improvement in marketing cost-effectiveness.
Here are some thoughts about how you can measure your offline marketing efforts (to get more information, visit Chris Leone’s recent blog post about 5 Ways to Measure Offline Marketing)
- TV & Radio Advertising – obtain a different domain name and promote this unique domain name in all your TV and radio advertising. Send people to that domain name in your website. Then, configure your web analytics to track visitors to that domain name. You’ll know how many people came to your website from your TV & radio advertising.
- Event Sponsorships – take the same approach as TV and Radio. Obtain another unique domain name and print this on the literature that promotes the event and hand out information at the event with this unique domain name. Then track it like we suggested above.
- Direct Mail - you can use the unique domain name approach on your printed direct mail pieces and/or use a special promotion code. Direct recipients of your direct mail piece back to your website to enter the promo code to register for a prize or something. Track usage of the promo code to see how many people are responding to your direct mail efforts.
- Networking – think this is a tough one? It’s not. Again, obtain a unique domain name and place it on a printed marketing piece. Encourage people to visit your website to register for something or get something for free. Track how many came to the site using that domain name.
You may be asking yourself how to use a different domain name if you already have one. You might also be skeptical about all this because you’d rather have people call you then visit your website. Those bases are covered as well.
- Unique/Different Domain Name/Website Address – you can have as many different domain name addresses go to your website, and you can even have unique domain name addresses go to a specific page in your website…not necessarily your home page. These are called domain name re-directs and they are simple to program.
- Phone Call Tracking – using a variety of phone call tracking technologies, you can obtain different phone numbers to use for tracking purposes, and they all eventually route back to your main phone number. Place these tracking phone numbers in your offline marketing activities and you’ll see how many people are calling you from your various offline marketing efforts.
Summary: Creativity - Unique Website Addresses - Call Tracking Technologies
By combining some creative ideas about how to market your firm to the customers you seek, using different/unique website addresses (domain names) in your offline marketing activities and incorporating phone call tracking technologies, you can quickly get a firm handle on the effectiveness of your marketing activities. Just think – with the right data you could probably reduce your marketing investments by 20% plus or better yet, generate 20% more sales from the same marketing investment.