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How to analyze the effectiveness of your print advertising campaign

5188013034_a635bde2de_mOne thing we hear a lot of in our corner of the business world these days is that print advertising is like throwing your money away. There is no way, so the rumor mill would have you believe, to measure how effective a print ad has been for your company. There is no way to tell how many people noticed it and there certainly is no way to tie a print advertisement to a sale so that you can measure the ROI.

Well, we beg to differ. While the solution we’re about to describe is not perfect, the methodology will assist you in measuring your print advertising campaigns to a greater degree than simply not trying or than consigning print advertising merely to a “branding effort.”

A special net for catching leads

Perhaps the biggest mistake we see on print advertisements today is that companies list their homepage as their company URL. Naturally, it’s virtually impossible to segment traffic that lands on your homepage. A person could see your URL from a print ad, they could land on your homepage as a result of a Google search, or they could be referred to your homepage via other marketing tactics where you are using the same basic URL. If you are attempting to track your print ads but are using your homepage as your URL, that is your first big problem.

We suggest to our clients the development of what we like to call “Special URL pages.” These pages exist on your website but they are not accessible via regular site navigation or via search. You have to type in the special URL directly. Granted, asking a reader to type a URL after seeing an ad is asking a lot these days, but the people who do are far more qualified as leads than anyone who simply visits your homepage. By making the page accessible only to direct traffic, you have a far better chance of measuring how effective your campaign is.

Connecting the dots

Capturing web traffic is of course not the same as measuring the ROI of your print campaign. What you need to do is strategize how you want to correspond the special URL page to your CRM program or, barring that, to some other methodology you have for tracking the evolution of leads into sales. There are many ways to do this, but here are a few suggestions.

1. Include a sample request form on your special URL page. Once someone requests a sample the sales team nurtures that relationship and will be able to track whether that relationship results in a sale (the sales team should be sure to alert marketing when a sale occurs that began at the special URL sample request form)

2. Include a link to a special page of your e-commerce store. If you have an e-commerce site connected to or on the back end of your corporate site, your special URL form can link to a special e-commerce page or it could even be a special landing page that is part of your e-commerce site. Tracking sales in this environment can be slightly easier, especially with the assistance of Google Analytics.

3. Include an RFQ or RFP form on your special landing page. These forms can be programmed so that when you receive the completed form, you also can be alerted as to the source of the form that was filled out.

Other Methodologies

If you don’t like the idea of special URL pages, you can also consider using specially designated email addresses or phone numbers for different ads you are using. The follow-through when using these other methodologies is that much more important because far less of the process relies on programming and automation. It is essential that the sales team and the marketing team are not segregated from each other as they will need to communicate regularly regarding what is working and what is not.

Don’t forget to measure your investment!

To figure the true ROI of your print advertising campaign, remember that you need to measure not just the traffic to the special URL page (although traffic to these special pages does signify a certain amount of interest). You also need to measure the investment to determine whether the return is worth your while. In addition to the media cost per insertion, it’s a good idea to amortize the cost for ad development over all of the insertions for which that ad will be used. This gives you a more accurate picture of your investment versus your return.

Although it’s trendy these days to say that print advertising belongs in the age of the dinosaurs, we do not believe this has to be the case. While making these methodologies work does require excellent communication between your marketing and sales teams, and while a strong CRM program assists in making the process run more reliably, overall the effort to track print advertising does not have to be a back-breaker for anyone in your company. It is a reachable goal. It just requires a little planning.

Have any questions or comments? Let us know below!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dottiemae/5188013034/ via Creative Commons

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9 comments on “How to analyze the effectiveness of your print advertising campaign

  1. Thank YOU Margie, for writing about non-digital marketing, because of COURSE it still works!!!!! Excellent and refreshing pieces of advice. Mwah!

  2. Rather than type in a special URL, why not have a QR Code to save the typing? That way you still get a much better measure, right? And everybody and their 8-yr old seems to have a smartphone nowadays!

    • You could use a QR code, certainly, but our feeling is that if you are taking someone to a fairly lengthy RFQ form or sample request form, filling that out (especially on a phone) can be really irritating, potentially irritating enough for someone to just bail. If you give people an option to plug in a URL, they can type on their iPad or on their computer, which is a bit less frustrating.

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