It’s a rare occasion when I find a client (in my admittedly rural area) who is actually tracking the effectiveness of their advertising. At the very least asking customers “How did you find us?”
We’re not in the 1980′s anymore. Then, you could just wildly spend money on advertising, and because business was booming everywhere, it was BOUND to increase your business.
Not so these days. The economy demands that you promote in ways that do the best job for your needs and circumstances.
Years ago, I had a yellow page ad that brought exactly 3 calls in a year (sorry, YP…). From salespeople, not customers. That ad was a budget-buster for my young business, but I had bought it because that’s what a successful biz was supposed to do. Turned out to be a bad call on my part.
You may cringe when you get your advertising bill from the local newspaper. But what if 3/4 of your business is coming from that one ad? Maybe you need to be paying them more for a bigger ad, instead of cutting your budget there.
But how do you know the difference between an effective investment and wasteful spending…. unless you TRACK?
Luckily, technology is on your side.
A local business absolutely needs to be online, but they certainly should market heavily offline, as well. The trick is to integrate the two effectively.
The ad space for print, billboards, even TV and radio comes at a premium. Your space online is pretty much infinite. So the obvious and easy way to “expand” your offline advertising is to insert your web address into your offline ads.
If you’re not doing that yet, please start NOW. Put your website url everywhere.
OK, that was relatively painless, so where to next?
Google, Ruler of the Online Universe
Google has made it terrifically easy to keep track of where website traffic is coming from with their free Google Analytics service. You can do this using different domain names or custom URLs.
For instance, you could head to GoDaddy.com and load up on domain name variations of your company’s products or services, then forward them to your main site. At around $10 each per year, this gives you a very reasonably-priced tracking method.
For instance, unbreakablebowls.com, indestructiblecups.com, and longlastingdishes.com could all be “aimed” at your company site www.EverlastDinnerware.com, with each of the new domain names used in a different advert. The Analytics can tell you not just how many vistors arrived from which ad, but also what ads evoked the most action (perhaps ordering something on your site, or downloading a white paper).
You can also “redirect” custom urls to track incoming traffic. You know those TV commercials telling you to go to www.changemylife.com/frog27 (or whatever…)? That is a tracking mechanism. If you pay attention, you’ll notice the same commercial with a different web address depending on the time of day. They will know exactly what show you were watching, and maybe even if you took action at the beginning or end of the program.
I use WordPress for practically all the sites I build, and redirects are very easy to create and track with a simple, free plugin.
Please note: you can use the above methods to track both offline and online traffic coming to your site.
Sometimes People Just Need to Speak with You
Maybe sending potential customers to a website isn’t the best-case scenario for your type of business. No problem.
There are numerous services available like those at Callfire.com that allow you to lease and track phone numbers by the month. And if you have a bit of Big Brother in you, you can also record those incoming calls to make sure they’re being handled the way you want them to be.
A business could easily use all these methods, and others, too. Maybe start with just one, get comfortable with it, then add another, always keeping in mind the ways they can interact with each other.
Making sure you accurately track your advertising, and then tweaking it for the best return-on-investment is one of the wisest moves you can make for a bigger bottom line.