Too often advertising is perceived as simply getting your company's name & logo in front of the customer's eyes. Once you've put your message out there, how do you know if it brings in the customers? Tracking is one of the essential components of advertising yet, because of its perceived difficulty, is often neglected. Survey's have revealed that only 19% of respondents felt confident in their ability to measure their advertising. And 73% didn't fully understand the effects that an advertising campaign could have on sales. Advertising tracking can be a huge undertaking, but with just a few small steps on your part, you can uncover advertising that's costing your company lots of money.
Assuming you've probably used Google Advertising at some point, you've probably looked at your stats of click thru's & impressions. It's great that Google can employ very advanced technology to create, measure, and elevate your better performing ads, but don't forget to track those ads on your end as well. Let's assume you're running two ads on the Google network & Google indicates they're getting equal click's. What if one ad yields a 4% closure rate & the other ad yields 31% closure rate? It wouldn't make sense to keep paying for both ads. With the 4% ad, you're paying Google for unqualified leads. The wrong audience is clicking there. Google doesn't realize it's underperforming since the click's are about the same for both ads.
If you're still not convinced ad tracking is right for you, consider how much you pay for a yellow pages ad. A company I used to work for was paying over $122,000/year for a full page ad, but never tracked its results. Needless to say, they didn't take my advice until I attended an industry convention. At the convention I learned that everyone that tracked their yellow pages ad discovered it generated less than 5% of their customers. It didn't make sense for them to be paying for full page ads, so they all shrank down to a business card ad.
Ad tracking, like anything else, starts with a few small steps. Here's a few you can take this week to get a better handle on your advertising.
Use separate phone numbers. If your ad lists a phone number as the 'call to action,' list a different phone number on each ad variation. Then you simply log which phone line rings the most. Phone lines don't cost very much, but are great tools for tracking your advertising. If you still need to justify the cost of a second line: The money you save from discarding an underperforming ad will more than pay for a second line. If you're paying for any size yellow pages ad, then it's imperative that you include a separate phone number only in the ad. The white pages listing could be your regular phone number. This is one of the easiest methods & works across all advertising medias.
Use separate email addresses. Just like a second phone line, only free & easier to log. Mostly for print or online advertising.
Use separate web pages. This takes a little creativity on your part, but is a great tool for measuring your ad performance when you don't have a lot of direct customer contact. If prova advertising were to run an ad campaign with 2 different variations, each ad could direct visitors to a separate page (http://prova.fm/advertising/promo01 or http://prova.fm/advertising/promo02). You could also have 2 different versions of your website (www.gotprint.com or www.gotprint.net)
Utilize tracking software. Although it can only track your online sales, it's extremely important if you do most of your business online. If you don't want to tackle the technical challenge yourself, right now's a great time to find a freelance programmer. You'd be surprised how many simple solutions are available to track what your visitors are doing at your site.
Offer a coupon code. Coupon codes are great for several reasons other than ad tracking, but are also one of the easiest ways to determine ad performance. It can be used across all medias. In a radio ad, when you call the listener to action, tell them to mention a specific code. Web or print ads can do the same, such as, "Use coupon code: banner5." With online ordering, you can simply add another field on your checkout form and label it "coupon code." Every order that comes through after that can be linked back to a specific ad.
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