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By Charly Leetham

Another of my favorite catch phrases is Testing, Tracking and Measuring.

That which isn’t measured can’t be managed

If you aren’t measuring the effectiveness of any of your sales campaigns – how do you know which campaigns are working and which ones provide the best value for money?

The same holds true for marketing your offline business on the Internet. When engaging on a new campaign, (email marketing, social media, banner ad, pay per click), a business needs to track and measure your results to work out what works, what doesn’t and what provides the bes Return on Investment (ROI)? If a business isn’t tracking and measuring its results, it is wasting time, energy and money.

Many business owners are challenged by knowing how to track their marketing campaigns – let alone being able to evaluate them. There are a number of ways to track marketing campaigns online that will provide sufficient statistics to the business owner to make informed decisions and by combining the methods discussed below will provide the most effective tracking for a business.

1. Use Analytics

When first setting up a website it is imperative to use analytic tracking. This type of tracking will register when a visitors comes to your site, which pages they enter the site on, which pages they exit the site from and which which pages they visit in the meantime. A quality analytics engine will also track which keywords are used to find the site and the length of time spent per page, among other things. Many analytics engines will also provide the capability to do per campaign tracking making it easy to see how a target page (offer) is reached over a period of time.



2. Use a tracking link

A tracking link is simply a URL or web address that is typed into a web browser. Using the right tools, a separate url for each marketing campaign can be created. This url will then allow a business to measure how many clicks that campaign receives, the number of return (or duplicate) clicks among other things. It is advisable that a separate URL is used for each advertisement within the campaign. Lets assume that a banner advertising campaign is implemented and adverts are placed on 4 different sites. To determine the effectiveness of each site use a separate tracking link for each one.

There are a number of tools available on the Internet that will allow you to easily setup tracking links. Some can reside on the businesses own domain name whilst others are managed (or outsourced) services. The level of reporting that is available with each one differs and care should be taken to check what statistics are available.

3. Use a Different Landing Page For each Advert

A Landing Page is simply a page that is used to direct visitors into your site. Sometimes this page will be a ’squeeze’ or optin page, where visitors are requested to provide their eMail address and name in return for a Gift and sometimes, this page is the actual offer or information page. Using the example above for banner advertising on 4 different sites, a business could set up 4 different landing pages (one for each site). These pages could be exact replicas of each other, or each page could be customized for each of the sites.

Each of these three options above will provide statistics on your campaigns. Combined, they will provide a wealth of information to truly understand the effectiveness of each campaign. It is worth the extra effort to set up tracking on your website to ensure that you  can improve your ROI over time.

Offline Businesses
An offline business that uses online advertising may find that the above methods don’t provide a true indicator of success – particularly when the advertising requires the customers to attend the business premises or make a purchase over the phone. Certainly, the above methods will provide a level of information about how many people looked at the offer and took the next step – but they won’t provide a measurement on how many people actually took the ‘offline step’.

One very effective way to overcome this challenge is to add a coupon or a voucher to the advertisement. This voucher can be printed by the visitor and used in store to receive a special offer or a discount. The instore staff can collect all the vouchers redeemed (maybe even noting the value of the sale on it), count them up at the end of the day and enter the tallies into a spreadsheet for later analysis. Use a different coupon code or offer for each online campaign / location to provide sufficient granularity for analysis.

Of course, simply asking a purchaser where they heard about the business or why they decided to come in today and recording those results can also be effective. It should be noted though, that many of your ‘offline’ visitors won’t recall which site they saw the advertisment on – so the information learned from this approach will be more generalized. Tracking is Good, Analysis and Action is better…. Having all these statistics available is good – but they are only useful, if the business owner takes the time to analyse them, draw conclusions and then take action.

The types of conclusions that a business owner may expect to draw from tracking their advertising campaigns may include:
• Which type of sites within their niche work better for different campaigns
• Which sites refer more of one customer type
• Which landing pages are more effective for each campaign
• The best times of the week / day / month for each type of campaign

On a final note, it’s important to remember that changes to campaigns should be introduced 1 at a time. If multiple changes are implemented all at once, the business owner will never be certain what worked and what didn’t.

Charly Leetham is a Small Business Coach and Online Business Implementation Expert and I help small businesses take their business online. Charly provide services to solopreneurs and small business who wish to sell or promote their products and services online. Visit www.AskCharlyLeetham.com for more information