Measuring Offline Efforts in an Online World
Apr 7, 2017
Measuring your marketing efforts is important (duh), which is why there are services like Google Analytics, Watson Analytics, Facebook Insights, KISSmetrics, Site Catalyst, Coremetrics…the list goes on. Using these tools lets you determine how successful your online efforts are, which in turn lets you determine your ROI.
But what about your offline efforts?
How do you determine how successful your flyers, billboards (yes, people still use them), TV ads, radio ads, or other offline efforts were?
What if users only come to your website because of your billboard or TV ad? What if you want people to call you instead of filling out a contact form on your website?
How do you measure that?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret – domains are insanely cheap. Seriously – if you’re buying an unowned domain, they can usually be had for less than $10 each. You even get discounts for buying them in bulk.
Why does this matter?
Unique, branded URLs are a great way to see if your offline efforts are driving users to your web properties. They can be used on printed materials, radio, TV, for special events (think trade shows or speaking engagements), or even on a business card.
The best part is that this allows you to use different vanity URLs for different efforts, allowing you to compare how effective the different tactics are within Google Analytics – that means you can see how effective your TV ads were and compare that to your paid search campaign.
I mentioned this in a previous post, but wanted to look at it more in-depth. I know that we increasingly hate using our phones to call people, but there are still industries that rely on phone calls to communicate – plenty of restaurants still only take reservations over the phone, real estate and auto sales are still heavily driven by phone communication, as is the legal field.
The nice thing about phone call tracking is that it lets you measure the effectiveness of both your online and offline efforts that are converting in a way that’s been traditionally hard to measure. You can ask people how they found you on a phone call, but they’ve often forgotten or can’t give you specifics.
Using a service like Marchex (I use them as my example, but there are plenty of other services out there too) allows you to purchase several phone numbers (all of which forward to a primary line of your choosing) and assign them to different efforts.
555-0001 may be the number you use in your TV ads, while 555-002 is your billboard number, 555-003 is on the flyers you use at events, 555-0004 for organic search, and 555-0005 for paid search.
The system tracks the numbers, letting you know how many calls, when they came in, where they came from, and how long they lasted. For your website, dynamic number swapping changes the number displayed on your site based on the how a user came to your site – organic, paid search, referral, social media, etc – all of this to let you know which channels are performing, and which aren’t worth your time.
Taking all of this information you can better know which of your tactics are resulting in conversions and put more focus (and money) behind those that perform, cutting back on or abandoning those that don’t provide as much ROI.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m big into measurement. Part of what initially drew me to digital marketing was how you could measure everything. As I grew into different roles and recommended non-digital tactics, I realized that the lack of ability to measure them bothered me.
Fortunately, that’s no longer a problem you have to deal with. Vanity URLs and Phone Tracking are just a couple of ways to track your offline efforts. In an increasingly digital world it’s worth remember that things like TV and radio ads, billboards, and phones still exist for a reason – they work; but they work better when you can measure them.
Have questions about measuring your offline tactics? Feel free to reach out – I’m @DasJorge.
Following graduating from George Mason University with a degree in English/Creative Writing, I joined the world of SEO in 2007. First as a copywriter in the wild west days of press releases and article repositories (EzineArticles...am I right?), then as a strategist, developing long-term solutions for local clients that helped them address the needs of their audience in meaningful ways. After jumping around the SEO agency world of Richmond, VA for several years I decided to go out on my own, forming my own agency in 2014 that blended aspects of SEO, content strategy, data analytics, and content marketing. Following my wife to North Carolina I’ve worked as a bartender, in-house SEO for the largest hammock manufacturer in the country, and finally ended up as a content strategist at Centerline Digital, using my decade of experience to build strategies for companies like IBM.