It doesn't matter what kind of advertising or marketing campaign you’re running; developing a method that tracks how customers interact with your business will help you understand your return on investment and allow you to spend your marketing dollars in the most
effective way possible. If you're not tracking successes and failures in some way, you’re likely over investing in one area and under investing in another.
Tracking your marketing will help you answer two questions:
- Are my marketing dollars resulting in leads, conversions, and sales revenue?
- What specific parts of your marketing are responsible for those leads, conversions, and sales revenue?
One reason why digital marketing is so successful is because of the dizzying amount of tracking points that can be collected. But these tracking tools are not just relevant for digital channels, they can be put to use to track print advertising and marketing and other
traditional advertising as well.
It’s a common misconception that it’s difficult to track print marketing, it may not be as easy as digital channels, but with a little planning, it can be done effectively. The key is including unique calls to action that can be traced back to the specific
marketing piece. Developing a trackable call-to-action can be achieved quite easily. It could be a coupon that brings customers into the store, a unique trackable URL, or a special phone number.
Let's go over some of the best ways to track your print data using some of the same tools used for tracking digital advertising.
1. Use a unique phone number
You probably put your phone number on every single marketing piece you create. If you're using the same number for all of them, it’s difficult to figure out where those calls are coming from. You can simply ask how the person on the phone got your number,
but that’s awkward, and requires your to be diligent about keeping records. There are also call tracking software that can determine whether the locations of your incoming calls line up with the locations your mailing went to, but this can be messy and complicated and also quite expensive.
The best ways to track the origins of phone calls is to use a series of unique phone numbers and tracking software to help you analyze call volumes. The basic idea is to attach these unique numbers to individual marketing campaigns. For example, use one
number for your trade show brochure, another for your different direct mail postcards, and another for your website. Then wait for the calls to roll in and track which numbers are getting the most calls.
There are a number of services that will help you track your calling, most of which are affordable for the first 5 - 10 phone numbers. Prices can get higher if you want to integrate with Google Analytics or use 800 numbers. We suggest starting small
with a plan you can afford and scale it up as you needed.
2. Use vanity URLs
Like phone numbers, placing your company's website on your marketing materials is a no-brainer. However, using the same web address for each piece you create for your marketing efforts will leave you with unattributed leads. If a customer types in your URL, it will show up on your analytics
as direct traffic, which can essentially come from anywhere.
The simplest way to solve this problem and find out where some of your direct traffic is coming from is by creating vanity URLs that align with your marketing campaigns. Creating a good vanity URL is pretty simple and inexpensive. A new domain name will
run you between $5 - $12 mattering on where you get it from, but you can recycle them once they are seeing less traffic. Your vanity URL should be short, direct and simple to remember. That's why we suggest buying new domain names rather than pointing consumers to subdomains like sale.yourwebsite.com or directories like yourwebsite.com/sale.
For example, let's say you’re a pizza place that is trying to encourage the customer to order online. It would be helpful to know where your customers are finding your website so you know what marketing channel will work best for you. The name of your restaurant is Gary’s Pizza and your normal website is GarysPizza.com.
Some good examples of vanity URLs could be
Once you've bought the domain names, all you would need to do is go into your domain name settings and forward your vanity URLs to your normal website (GarysPizza.com) and then track the redirects via Google Analytics.
You can also use URL shortening services like bit.ly or Rebrandly to create personalized shortened URLs to existing pages on your site that hide full URLs that utilize UTM parameters or query parameters to convey the specific source through the full length URL that the URL shortener is hiding. It's also possible to accomplish the same effect through some of their premium features you can add on like link origin tracking which essentially does the same thing, just within the URL shorteners environment.
While a simple tracking URL can pass on unique customizable packages of information about the origin of the leads that follow it, there are unlimited options for effectively cloaking these links using URL shortener tools that utilize vanity URLs as their root. Tracking URLs can also point to variations of a landing page that are customized to the specific m
3. Create discount codes or coupons
The easiest way to track your print marketing is by using discount codes and good old-fashioned coupons. You may not think of promotions as unique identifiers but they are the oldest one in the book. Requiring customers to come into your store with a piece
of your advertising allows you to track it back to that specific marketing campaign or even a specific piece of mail.
A promo code is basically the digital evolution of the coupon; instead of bringing it into the storefront the customer enters it into the website at checkout to receive the promotion. For in-store use, many point-of-sale systems even allow for you to use promo codes in the same way you would online. This can also help you track that sale back to its source.
No matter how you choose to track your print marketing, doing so will help you increase their effectiveness and, in the long run, save your business money. Gathering intelligence on how effectively your marketing dollars are spent will allow you spend less money on ineffective marketing and invest more on marketing that increases your bottom line.