See that picture? That’s a phone. Some people still use it. They look at a print ad, pick up the phone or just walk into a location and make a purchase. And while those of us in digital marketing like to think everyone makes all their purchase decisions online and therefore, track-able, we all know offline activity is taking place, and data is floating in the molecules, not cyberspace. And we’re frustrated because we can’t gather and use it to help us make decisions in our marketing efforts.
For an ecommerce site, the question is not so difficult. A bricks and mortar B2C business is far more difficult to track and measure. You have no idea if that trade show you just attended, or that print campaign or even social campaign is working – If you can’t measure it, you don’t know if it’s working or needs some modifying.
- Point of sale system: (POS): Does your POS allow for capturing data and can you make it required or pop up for every transaction? Not everyone will know or remember where they heard about you, and that’s OK. But for those who definitively saw the ad on Facebook or in the newspaper, they can tell you without a doubt, and you’ve captured it, and attributed that revenue to the ad. Get a list of all your marketing channels into the system and leave an option for your regular/loyal buyer who just knows about you.
- Google Analytics: Look at what websites are referring traffic to you. Analytics is free and if you don’t have it installed and aren’t looking at it regularly, you are missing out on a great deal of data. Ask your web developer to give you access. Under Acquisition > All traffic > Referrers, you’ll find a complete list of websites that are sending you traffic and how engaged this traffic is with your content. You can also look at Campaigns to track unique URLs if you used them. I’ll have to write more about campaigns later. Dig in further to see if they visited your “get directions” page or submitted a contact form. Keep in mind, this is doing your best to get an idea of what’s happening. It’s highly likely many will just walk in to your location or pick up the phone and call.
- Phone metrics: Did someone say call? There are services like Call Tracking Metrics which allow you to put unique numbers on print ads and track calls that come in for each ad. Pricing starts at $19/month plus usage fees which might be $50 to $75/month. You can use the usage calculator to guess your costs.
- Discount: I’m not a fan of this one, because I don’t like discounting to get people in the door. However, it is a way to get people to say “they saw you in such and such an ad.” If you go this route, make sure it aligns with your brand. Consider offering something of value, instead of a 10 percent off.
- Just ask: If you can get staff in the habit of asking, and then reporting, that’s great. A hard road but a little is better than none.
- Mobile/Local: Yelp and Google Business listing, to name two, provide a wealth of data. See how many clicks you are getting for “directions to here” or how many phone calls you receive.
The Call to Action
Short of microchipping our customers and conducting brain scans, there is no hard and fast way to accurately measure the effectiveness of your print and offline campaigns. Before you implement anything, think about how you can track success, and this will influence the content. Emails should ask for a next action – to click through or call; print ads can have unique URLs and phone numbers; event attendance should drive email collections.
The end goal of the ad (or offline activity) might be to get them to come in to buy something but remember, the micro-conversion is to somehow get them to take an action you can track, that shows they saw the ad, be it to click on a specific URL, ask for something in at the location, or sign up for something.
I welcome your questions and added ideas in the comments below.