How to measure your offline marketing impact

There are more platforms for consumers to interact with and purchase from your business than ever before. As new websites and social media networks continue to pop up, the lines between online and offline marketing are increasingly blurring, where one channel often influences the other.

From running ads in print and on TV to exhibiting at conferences and handing out leaflets, measuring your offline marketing efforts helps you to focus your efforts on successful channels and campaigns, but with the rise of online channels, attribution remains one of the biggest challenges that marketers face today.

Tracking your offline marketing results using a variety of tools and strategies can offer valuable insight into which channels are providing the highest return on your investment. Just as marketing in itself requires a healthy mix of online and offline channels, you need to connect the dots by using more than one method or tool to track and measure your offline campaigns.

Below are some of the many strategies and analytics tools you can use when measuring the impact of your offline marketing campaigns.

1. Custom landing pages and redirecting domains

Start to measure the impact of a particular campaign by including unique URLs on all the adverts they run which redirect visitors to a custom landing page on the brand’s main website.

Doing this offers two key benefits. Firstly, potential customers can find out more relevant information by landing on a page that is tailored to the advert they have seen, thus increasing the chances of a conversion. Secondly, you can track everyone who types in your vanity URL to determine the effectiveness of the ad’s content and the channel on which it appeared.

In addition to using custom URLs, you can buy entire domains with the sole purpose of redirecting visitors to the custom landing pages you’ve created on your main website. For example, if you have a pizza business with multiple locations throughout the UK, employees could stand on busy roads sporting sandwich boards featuring domains such as redhillpizzas.com or surreypizzas.com, with each domain redirecting to custom landing pages on your main website for those locations.

Don’t just create duplicate websites hosting the same content as your main website, as Google will penalise you for duplication. If you do want to create new websites for your custom domains, ensure you use enough unique content throughout.

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The trick with custom URLs and/or domains is to keep them short and memorable for people passing by, and to include your phone number to help convert those who prefer to speak to a person (read on for how you can attribute phone calls correctly).

Keep a record of where you have used each URL or domain, then see how many people visit your custom landing pages in Google Analytics under Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages. If you have Goals set up in Analytics, you can see how many conversions the landing page and/or custom domain has helped to generate.

To make each campaign easier to monitor, add a noindex meta tag to your custom landing pages. This will keep them from being indexed by search engines (they will categorise them as duplicate pages if you have similar pages on your site), which in turn will prevent extraneous traffic arriving through your custom landing pages. But keep in mind that some users will prefer to use a search engine to find you instead of typing in your custom URL, but this process should still give you a good idea of which adverts are your biggest traffic drivers.

2. Discount codes

If setting up custom URLs and redirecting domains sound too much like hard work, then discount codes could be the solution for you. Codes are commonly linked to the name of the magazine/newspaper, TV/radio station or geographic location of your advert: “Use our exclusive code MAIL10 for an extra ten per cent off this bank holiday weekend” etc.

By monitoring your custom discount codes, you’ll be able to keep track of which marketing channels have been the most effective whilst avoiding repeating the codes elsewhere. However, keep in mind that your custom discount codes could get submitted to online channels such as discount code websites and possibly skew your results.

3. Google AdWords

Buying keywords in Google AdWords not only helps to drive traffic to your site, it can be a good way to track offline campaigns. For example, have your ads show whenever someone searches your brand name; not everyone will click through, but the aim here is to monitor how many times your ad is triggered after any offline campaigns go live.
Using this method, you can track how many people are searching for your brand name, which you can then compare with your Goals in Google Analytics to track the actual impact on your website.

4. Hashtags

Hashtags have extended beyond Twitter and are now used on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and a host of other social media channels. Brands have started to include unique hashtags in offline adverts in the hopes of generating a buzz on social media.
Three executed its short and memorable hashtag #holidayspam perfectly with a humorous advert, which also directed potential customers from its custom domain, stopholidayspam.com, to a custom landing page explaining how its customers are free from roaming charges.

Of course, you won’t be able to keep track of every user that took to social media as a result of your offline campaign versus who picked up on it whilst they were already online, but the additional use of custom URLs/domains in your offline adverts should give you an indication of their success in terms of conversions.

5. Google Analytics

All the tactics above are well and good – but, as you may have noticed by now, not everyone is simply going to type in your custom URL. For those visitors who simply Google your brand name, it’s important to have other measures in place to attribute as many conversions to your offline marketing efforts as possible.

For example, using online analytics to monitor your website traffic before and after launching an offline advert will allow you to spot any significant spikes the ad may have generated. You can also determine the quality of that traffic by comparing it with conversions such as sales and sign-ups.

Because it’s not always possible to determine a visitor’s referring source, you should use Google Analytics to measure direct traffic. Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium > Direct to see your average amount of direct traffic. Create an annotation on the date your ad goes live, or whenever someone mentions your website anywhere offline. Then, compare this data to a previous period to see if there is a real difference in direct traffic after an offline campaign has launched.

6. Call tracking

It’s not just your website that can enjoy increased activity following the launch of an offline marketing campaign. Many people still like to speak to a real person, but when a business experiences an influx of calls it can be difficult to know what it was that made customers pick up the phone.

Static call tracking is perfect for offline marketing such as national or local press advertising, direct mail or leaflets. This is where you assign unique telephone numbers to each piece of offline marketing through the use of call tracking software from providers like Mediahawk, which then tells you which marketing campaigns are generating the most phone calls.

With in-depth reporting and integration with your existing tools such as Google Analytics and Google AdWords, call tracking allows you to identify your highest-value sources and refine your marketing efforts to boost the ROI of your most successful campaigns.
Conclusion

By assigning unique tags such as URLs and phone numbers, you can start measuring your offline marketing efforts using online tools and identify which campaigns are generating the most conversions.

Tracking offline marketing when it merges with online platforms can be tough, but additional actions such as measuring the correlation between offline campaign launches and a rise in direct traffic will help to plug any gaps in your results. With the right combination of tactics and tools you’ll gain a more holistic understanding of the impact of your campaigns and be able to make informed changes to your campaigns to maximise ROI.

Kayleigh Conway is digital marketing executive at Receptional.

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