While the amount of marketing and advertising that occurs online is substantial and continues to grow, businesses still make large investments in offline marketing as well. From newspaper and magazine ads, to billboards, to radio and TV commercials, to direct mail, there are plenty of prominent and effective marketing channels used by businesses that do not happen online. The key issue many businesses face now is how to track the online results for their offline marketing campaigns.
The core idea behind tracking the online results of offline marketing activities is being able to connect a given marketing piece with a visitor when they come to your website. If your company has been wondering how its offline marketing activities have impacted things like website visitors, online leads, e-commerce sales and more, here are four ways you can track the online activity that results from your offline marketing campaigns.
1. Domain Redirects and Alias Phone Numbers
The first way that you can identify which offline marketing piece caused a person to visit your website or call your phone number is by setting up domain redirects and alias phone numbers. Domain redirects allow you to point multiple domains to your website and alias phone numbers allow you to send multiple phone numbers to your main line. Both methods can be tracked to identify which original domain or phone number, and therefore which offline marketing piece, was responsible for that visitor or phone call.
To create domain redirects, first you will need to purchase the domains for your campaign. For example, if you were running a regional promotional campaign for your sporting goods store and your normal website is joessportinggoods.com, you could buy joessportingoodsNY.com, joessportingoodsNJ.com, and joessportinggoodsCT.com.
Once you have those domains, you need set them up so that whenever someone visits them, they get sent to the main page for joessportinggoods.com. You’ll want to use what’s known as a “301 Redirect,” but if the technical aspects of this are too advanced for you the person who created your website should be able to help. There’s also plenty of http://www.go-ambient.com/.
When setting up the redirect, in order to be able to track different domains you will need to add tracking code to the redirect URL so that you’ll know which domain generated the website visit. Otherwise a 301 redirect treats the visitor as if the original domain name doesn’t exist and acts as if the visitor went directly to the final URL, so no tracking information will be captured. If you use Google Analytics, simply go to their cause effect essay rubric, type your main website address (in the above example it would be joessportingoods.com) in step 1, create tagging information to identify the referral in step 2, and then after clicking submit use the resulting URL in the redirect. This way when someone visits the URL, they will be redirected to your link with the tracking code and their visitor information will be captured that way.
Now that you’ve setup your domains to redirect with tracking code, all that you have to do is use the appropriate URL in the marketing materials for each state, so that people in New Jersey see joessportinggoodsNJ.com, and if they visit the URL they will be redirected to the URL with the appropriate tracking information and you’ll know which regional campaign was responsible that visit and any purchases that come as a result!
Creating alias phone numbers on a large scale can be more involved, with companies like medical writing services offering solutions for businesses who need in-depth call tracking. For smaller campaigns where you only need a single number, you can use Google Voice to set up an alias number for your existing phone and keep track of how many calls it gets. However your Google Voice account will only allow you to create one new number, so it won’t work for larger campaigns that need multiple numbers.
2. Shortened URLs
Another way to track offline activity is by using shortened URLs. Like domain redirects, you can put different shortened URLs into your marketing pieces and then track each one to determine which item delivered that visitor to the site. While it’s easier to setup shortened URLs than domain redirects, it ultimately requires more organization since you’ll have to keep track of which shortened URL corresponds to which marketing piece and it often looks less professional than having a dedicated URL.
Also, unless you setup URL tracking like in the domain redirect example, you won’t be able to view your results in your analytics platform or have any information beyond which marketing pieces resulted in the most traffic. This is because when a visitor enters a shortened URL your analytics platform behaves as if the person simply came directly to the site, so everyone will show up as a direct visitor and there will be no way to identify them as they browse the site or make purchases because there won’t be any tracking information associated with them. You’ll have to track the visits to your shortened URL through whatever service you use to create them.
If you want to be able to use shortened URLs in your offline marketing and still track visitors in your analytics platform, use the URL builder from the last example to create a trackable URL and then enter that into your URL shortener of choice. That way, like with a domain redirect, after the person types in shortened link it will take them to the URL with the tracking information and capture which marketing piece generated their visit to the site.
3. Custom Pages
A third option is to create custom webpages for your campaigns, and work to ensure that the only way someone will visit these pages is because they have viewed your offline advertising. To take the example of the sporting goods store again, you could create separate pages joessportinggoods.com/baseball, joessportinggoods.com/basketball, and joessportinggoods.com/football in order to run campaigns targeted at each of those sports.
The trick for executing this method is making sure that the only way to reach these pages is when people who see your offline marketing type the URL directly into their browsers. Obviously this means you don’t want to create links to these pages on your website, otherwise people will be able to click on those links to visit the page and it will throw off your results. The key is to make sure that these pages also don’t show up on search engines. In order to do that, you need to modify the metadata for the pages so that they will not be indexed by search engines. To do this, enter <meta name=“robots” content=”noindex” > into the <head> section of the page’s HTML. With no links to the page from your site or from search engines, you’ll help ensure that the only visits these pages get come from your ads so that you get an accurate overview of the effectiveness of your campaigns.
4. Discount Codes
A final way to track online purchases that are generated from offline campaigns is by using unique discount codes for each piece. If each ad has a unique discount code, all your company has to do is track which code is entered during the checkout process and match it up with the appropriate marketing piece. This obviously requires your company to use an ecommerce platform that allows you to create discount codes, and it also doesn’t allow you to track any other website activity besides a purchase, but for businesses that have the capability to handle discount codes and only care about tracking purchases it’s a great option.
Does your company track the online results of its offline marketing campaigns? Let us know how you do it in the comments!