For marketers, accurately measuring metrics is essential to improving ROI. And, digital marketing efforts have made tracking much easier. Using platforms like Google Analytics, Facebook, Google Ads, and other tools, markets have come to expect the ability to track traffic and measure which efforts convert to sales and get the best customer.
But, what happens with offline marketing? How do you track metrics for radio ads, billboards, and fliers? Historically, these marketing efforts have only been tracked based on opinions. Often a manager or boss simply “feels” like they work and can’t point to direct data.
Fortunately, we’ve uncovered several ways to measure offline campaign metrics effectively. Using these strategies can help provide clarity to your offline marketing efforts and paint a fuller picture of the customer’s journey.
1. Create a unique discount code
One way to see if a specific effort is driving sales is to create a unique discount code for that campaign. For example, if you want to try direct mail, you can create a unique coupon code such as MAIL20 just for that effort. As long as you only use the code for the direct mail campaign, you can feel relatively confident that any sale that applies this promo code can be attributed to the direct mail effort.
Use unique codes for each offline effort, so if you also are doing a flyer effort, make a unique code FLYER20. Keeping codes simple and easy to submit will improve usage.
There are small ways the attribution could be incorrect, for example, if someone shares the code through social media, this can skew your results. These cases are very rare, however. You can use tools like Voucherify.io to integrate with landing pages and eCommerce platforms to track customer acquisition by creating promo codes.
2. Use a tracking link to your site
In some industries, marketers may want to drive traffic to a website. For example, if you are offering a service or product that needs a lot of explaining, it may be important to drive the customer to the website to learn more. Savvy marketers can use tracking links to drive online traffic even at offline events.
A tracking link is a regular link with a simple code added to the end. They take users to the same website but can be tracked in analytics tools like Google Analytics. Markets can then look at the data to discover how many people visited these special links and if they converted.
For example, if your company owns cleanwindows.com you could also set up cleanwindown.com/hello. Make sure the /hello URL also directs to the home page or a special landing page and then put this URL on everyone’s business card. Then you can track how many visitors hit this URL because of offline efforts.
As your URLs get too long, you may need to find a way to shorten it. Use Google’s URL shortener to break up big links that can be used on billboards or print ads. Branded links identify traffic and you can use special link codes for “L.A. billboard ads” or “NYC radio ads”.
3. Add a UTM tag to a link
UTM campaign parameters let you add a short bit of code at the end of a link to track traffic on a landing page. UTM or urchin tracking modules are easy to use.
To create a UTM tag, use Google’s Campaign URL builder and select “Create tracking URL”. Append your URL with a UTM tag and then distribute the URL. The link will automatically track any traffic that uses that specific UTM.
You can use UTM tags for campaigns or sources like Facebook. They can also be used for mediums like email, in a section of content or a term like a PPC keyword. Short UTM tags can also be used offline. For example, put them on flyers or direct mail campaign.
4. Use QR codes
A more recent technology that is helping to track offline efforts is QR codes. QR codes are machine-readable codes that look like back and white boxes. When the user puts his or her computer or smartphone over the code, it takes the user to a website.
QR codes are best used on billboards or signs where users are walking by and have access to their phones. Using different QR codes you can track which campaigns and which locations are driving the most traffic.
5. Use a unique phone number
Using a bunch of unique phone numbers can allow you to track offline traffic. Simply purposely distribute those phone numbers in different campaigns, then track which ones are used. It might come from callers with questions about a print ad or billboard.
For example, create one phone number for billboards and another phone number for the yellow pages. This can be especially helpful for the service industry where you may even want unique phone numbers with different area codes in each neighborhood you serve.
Tools like ServiceTitan allow you to create unique phone numbers that tie directly back to offline and online marketing campaigns. These numbers track each call to determine no only inbound calls, but also the revenue generated for each campaign. The business can then stop campaigns that aren’t working and scale the ones that are.
6. Simply ask
While there are several ways to track offline effort, it can never be 100% clearly. One way to get more data from your customers is to simply ask where they learned about you. After the checkout page, ask a quick question like “Where did you hear about <Business Name>. You can leave it open-ended or put in a few options like “TV”, “Radio”, or “Online Search”. Use this data in the larger picture of where your customers are coming from.
More attribution make better data
While businesses focus on online metrics, offline is equally important. Using creative solutions like UTM tags, discount codes, and trackable links, to track offline campaigns and engagement, you can get a better understanding of the ROI of offline efforts. Additionally, when customers provide info on where they heard of you, it helps create a clear understanding of all of your efforts.
While the customer journey can involve many touches, and attribution will never be 100%, having more attribution data will help you understand the best marketing mix. These are all ways to improve your offline business strategies and improve metrics.