We hear the question often: why use traditional media such as print when results can’t be tracked? While it is true print media’s forte is building trust and awareness, and while digital marketing is based heavily in data analytics, it is a common misconception to consider print media as unable to provide feedback on the effectiveness of a campaign. In fact, there are well-established methods of gaging whether your money is being well spent on a print advertising.

  • Coupons & Offers -

    A print advertising classic, this method remains a useful technique for calculating effectiveness. To best utilize a coupon, run unique promotions in each media in which you’re advertising (for example a different offer in your radio ad vs. your print). Be certain to state that this promotion is void with any other offer and track the number of sales you receive from the coupon in each platform.
  • As with most, if not all, advertising methods, some variables apply. Some of your offers may be weaker than others. If a consumer sees another of your promotions in other media, advertising what they perceive to be a better offer, they’ll certainly use that one.
  • Also, coupon use only partially shows the value of print. Overall, coupon redemption rates can be low, and they don’t account for the awareness your business generated with the ad itself. Even if some readers were not currently in the market for your product or service, they became aware of your business, and they are now more likely to remember your business when the need does arise. The value of awareness is inestimable, continuing to produce customers long after your promotion has ended.
  • Coupon Codes –

    or Promo codes allow companies to track purchases made as a result of advertising.  However, this method does not account for those consumers who see the ad and become aware of your goods or services but purchase at a later date.
  • Tracking Total Sales –

    This method is a comparative analysis technique. A business runs ads throughout a specific marketing campaign. All sales are tracked during that campaign time period. Then the overall sales total is compared to a previous, similar period when the ads were not run. However, one must take into account how long the sales cycle lasts for that product as well as what other advertising might have been running during that time period. 
  • Asking customers –

    This is a simple and easy method, however, many businesses do not use it effectively. The questions posed are typically too general, and customers often supply a careless answer in order to respond quickly.  Instead, ask questions to get customers to stop and think. For example,  “Who referred you to us?” is much more specific than, “How did you hear about us?” When answering the former question, readers are more likely to correct you by saying something like, “Oh I wasn’t referred; I saw your ad in the paper,” or “I found you in a Google search.” Even so, this method is somewhat flawed. Your customers are inundated with thousands of advertising messages every day, and most honestly don’t remember where they heard about you. 
  • Website Traffic –

    When monitored correctly, website traffic reveals much about the effectiveness of your advertising. By using Google Analytics, for example, you can view which sources are sending you website traffic. Since print advertising has been well-proven to generate awareness, you can track increased traffic due to this heightened awareness during the times you’re running your print ads. Important areas to track are your organic search traffic as well as direct traffic which comes from those users typing your URL (web address) into the search bar. Make sure you’ve included your URL in the print ad. Look at your traffic daily: before, during and after your print ads run. In order to receive an accurate picture of the effectiveness of your print ad, all other marketing should remain consistent shortly before, during and after the ad runs. 
  • Subdomains, Unique URLs & Unique Web Addresses -

    This method simplifies using web traffic to track print results and is probably the most effective for tracking print ad results. If you include a specific URL such as www.mywebsite.com/specialoffer or http://subdomain.mywebsite.com or purchase a special URL for your advertising campaign like www.myvanityaddress.com, you will have a clearer view of the traffic generated by any advertisement that mentions the unique URL. However, some degree of inaccuracy often occurs if a customer doesn’t immediately react to your print ad. These readers may go to Google and search you later when they are ready to purchase and may not recall the specific URL, thereby skewing your data. You can improve the likelihood of readers using your specific tracking URL by offering an incentive, such as 20% off, for readers to visit that specific page within a short timeframe.
  • Call tracking -

    In addition to creating a specific URL to track responses, you can also utilize unique phone numbers. Local call tracking numbers record the number of calls to that specific number and can even record the calls themselves. For smaller businesses, Google Voice is an easy option. When using call tracking, you may want to include the phone number twice in your ad to maximize results. 
  • QR codes & Augmented Reality -

  • QR codes, often black and white patterned squares, are like bar codes that can be added to your print ad and scanned by smart phones to take readers to a specific landing page on your website. You can then track the number of visits to that webpage to get an idea of your ad’s response rate. Of course, not all readers will be comfortable utilizing this technology, nor will some readers feel compelled to scan the code. Still, this is one way to bridge the print-to-online gap and deliver potential customers to a well-designed webpage which integrates with your print ad campaign.
  • Augmented reality brings your print ad to life, virtually if not literally. Using their smart phones, readers can scan your print ad to receive more content such as videos and image carousels of available products. Interactions with Augmented Realty can all be measured and tracked. While you still receive the value of all the awareness your print ad generates, you can also see the number of customers who were compelled to take the next step and engage further with your advertisement.

We’ve seen a trend of print advertising spending being allocated to digital opportunities. This is understandable with companies so used to measuring what their advertising dollars are doing. While traditional advertising can take more effort to track, utilizing the tactics above can help give you a better picture of what’s working and what’s not. Print ads greatly increase consumer awareness, and building awareness is an essential element for any business. 

Print advertising also leads to and supports your other marketing efforts by building consumer trust, and in fact, one study shows that print ads are more likely to engage users and prompt action than their digital counterparts.

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