Track Your Marketing
Marketing is everything you do to promote your business, from conception through to a sale. It's much like a circle that begins with a revenue-generating idea and completes itself with referrals and repeat business. In between is the part where you work hard.
No matter how long you've been in business, or what has worked or not worked in the past, all forms of advertising are open to you. Direct mail, magazines, brochures, newspapers, radio, TV, signs, telemarketing, seminars and trade shows. You just have to be creative.
However, would you spend your hard-earned cash, or ? even more valuable ? your time, without knowing if it's being spent effectively? Any marketing plan you choose must be tracked for results. You need to know which forums and what campaigns are profitable so you can repeat the effective ones and drop all others.
What to Test For
In your testing, you are looking for items such as: Does a small change in copy text, either in the hook (headline) or body, cause an increase in sales? Does a simple change in an online form enhance sales? What percentage of leads coming in from a promotion is converted to sales? These are just some of the questions that beg answers if you want to maximize your profit.
One of the best products to come out of online marketing is ad-tracking software. It has always been a difficult and time-consuming job for a marketer to track a campaign but the advent of online programs has changed all that.
Ad-tracking software programs, such as Nitrostats, HyperTracker, NetQuantify, Roi Cruncher, EzTrackZ, LightningTrack, AdvertPRO and MarketingPilot, allow you to track and measure an unlimited number of campaigns, and to isolate ads, visitors and products to see what is productive and what is not.
Internet trackers provide critical information so you can determine if your web site is working to your advantage, such as where a person enters or leaves a page, a factor that gives you the chance to write more effective copy text. They track general and pay-per-click search engines, e-mail marketing, banner ads, affiliate programs, surveys, classifieds, auto-responders, message boards, articles and more.
You will need to develop systems to use the software to track ? but don't worry, that's the easy part. For example, when you purchase pay-per-click advertising, you can direct traffic to a specific web page by placing a "?" after your address followed by a code word. For instance, it could be the URL (uniform resource locator) www.masonrymaster.com/?ppc Make sure you separate the tag code with a diagonal after your domain name. The number of visitors to this page will let you know how well this form of advertising is working for your business.
You can also create a special page for each ad you place and give new visitors a customized welcome message or special offer. You can also use programs such as WebTrends to analyze your server logs and understand where your traffic is coming from and what they do when they get there.
How do you track offline advertisements? It's not rocket science but it does take some extra effort on your part. If your prospects need to respond by phone or fax, include in the print ad some code word or number that they must use in order to get a discount or freebie. If they have to respond in person, make your offer a coupon that they must bring along to redeem the deal. The "extra part" is in training your staff to ask for this information. If it all seems like too much effort for little return, remember the circle ? marketing correctly takes you to the referral and repeat business part a lot faster and more often.
An Organizational Tip
Here's a tip: Do you have trouble keeping track of all of your marketing activities and files on your own computer? A software program called PromoBuddy, a product from German programmer Detlev Reimer (www.promobuddy.com), will do the following for you:
- Easily find affiliate information, keyword data and ads
- Locate log-in details for multiple accounts (user name and password)
- List of e-zine and article databases
- Save product download pages or bookmarks
- Track article placement and status
The bottom line is you can use this type of program to determine what product(s) sell to the right people with the right ad using the right medium at the right time. Can you afford not to track your marketing?
About the Author
Cathy Taylor is a marketing consultant with over 20 years experience. She specializes in strategy and plan development, as well as management of communications and public relations programs in both the high-tech and small business sectors.