I have been told regularly throughout my career that it’s impossible to track marketing. There’s no way to know if an advert is successful. How we can you really tell if PR is working better than that campaign you did? But the truth is you can track whatever you want. You just need to think creatively.
Any regular readers of my blog will know that I say the easiest way to know if your marketing has been successful is to decide what you want to achieve, and then measure to see if you’ve achieved it or not. If you want to grow to a £1M business, and you do lots of marketing activity that helps you achieve that, then you can be very confident that you’ve had a return on that investment.
But that’s very high level. It doesn’t offer much detail. Whilst having a culmination of activities and using a multi-channel approach will give you a much better chance at success, it’s also very useful to know exactly which of these channels worked best.
Here’s the caveat though. You might find out that no direct leads were generated from your adverts or PR, but 50% of your leads came from that campaign you did. That doesn’t mean scrap the PR and advertising. The reality is that the PR and advertising may have helped to support the leads that came from the campaign. How often have you seen something once and just bought straight away? It’s highly unlikely unless it’s a fast moving consumer good at a low price. It’s certainly very rare in the B2B world. So having your brand everywhere in itself will help to move along that interested prospect.
But across all your channels, it’s useful to know what is sparking that final level of interest to push your prospects over the edge, getting them to contact you. But how do you manage that?
If you’re a bit of a whizz on computers, or you work with someone who is, then you can use technology to track things. Put in those tags, use Google Analytics, set those goals. Through doing this you can find out exactly where someone came from. Even to the level of detail as to which of your sales team’s emails is generating the most traffic to your website.
But this isn’t easy. You need to know what you’re doing or pay for someone to help you do this. If you’re a small business, or just starting out even, you might not have the budget to set all this up. I’ve worked with many businesses who have a tight budget. It’s hard to justify spending the little money you have on tracking when you don’t have much budget to do everything else as it is.
It was working for a small company with a small budget that made me get creative. The ideas I had were far from an exact science. Nothing will ever be as conclusive as tracking someone’s activity directly. But they were ideas that provided a good indication of what was happening, and then I was able to feed the data back into the plan to keep making improvements.
Ideas for Tracking
One of the simplest ways to track things is to add in a code. Put on your advert “Quote SUMMER21 to get your discount”. But then on social media put “Quote 21SUMMER”. And on your PR put “Quote SUMMER2021”. You get the idea. By using different codes in different places – it could even be geographically different – you will start to build up a picture of what’s working and what isn’t.
If 80% of all the people who got the discount quoted “21SUMMER”, you know they saw it on social media. Simple ideas like this take a bit of planning, but they can give you valuable information and they cost nothing.
Another idea I’ve used very successfully is putting different phone numbers and different email addresses on different channels. For example, the website could have the main office number and the info@ email address, but then on direct mailers I’ve sometimes used a special 0800 number and solutions@ email address. You could then put the marketing team’s direct dial number and the marketing@ email all over the PR and advertising. Wherever the calls or emails go to, it will tell you what piece of marketing generated that interest.
This activity once proved to me that virtually all of the people who contacted us by phone came from the website. However, people emailed more directly from the marketing information sent to them. It not only helped us to understand the power of marketing, but also what our customers’ preferences seemed to be.
These are some basic ideas, but the simple thread running through them all is that you have something unique on each different asset, thereby allowing you to track how people are reacting to things. As I said before, it’s not as exact as tagging and tracking through something like Google Analytics. Someone may have reacted well to the advert, but when they see it again on social media it just jogs their memory to contact you. But it will give you a great indication of the journey your audience is taking.
Have a think yourself next time you send out a direct mail piece or an email. How can you add in something unique so if someone contacts you directly as a result of it, you can know? It’s simple but effective.
The only thing left to do then is make sure you use this data. When you have an idea of trends, feed that back into your plan so you can do more of what is working and you tweak what doesn’t seem to be. Knowledge, after all, is power.