Business owners use all sorts of marketing campaigns (PPC, Newspaper ads, etc) to promote their businesses, but how can they tell it’s working?
John Wanamaker, one of America’s marketing and advertising pioneers, once said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half”.
When Wanamaker expressed this thought, no advertising platforms more technologically advanced than newspapers and radio existed.
Nowadays (nearly a century after Wanamaker’s death), the conundrum regarding advertising campaigns’ success remains more relevant than ever.
Moreover – many of the advertising methods that are used nowadays are difficult to analyze.
What are the challenges?
To demonstrate the challenges of a marketing campaign analysis, let’s take a look at a simple example of a small or medium sized business that attempts to raise some brand awareness, spread its name and gain new customers.
In order to get in touch with the customers and convert them into consumers, the majority of SMB’s nowadays communicate with their potential customers via phone and e-mail.
Whether the advertising tool is a TV commercial, a SEO-promoted website or a paper flyer – usually the contact information of the business will appear on it.
So if a small business owner that needs customers to call his number in order to sell products or provide a service (e.g. a plumber or a dentist) invests a part of his advertising budget in a paid ad on the radio – will he ever know how well it really converted?
If recording a radio commercial and paying to get it aired live is all that is done, there is no way that the plumber or the dentist will ever know the answers to such an important question as how many of those who heard the ad are real potential customers.
Let’s agree that young children and teenagers, for example, don’t care about plumbing services more than men care about feminine hygiene products.
That means that they are not a part of a plumber’s potential clientele, so it doesn’t matter if a thousand local 10 years old kids get to hear the aforementioned commercial on the radio, or none of them.
Other critically important questions regarding a marketing campaign’s success that cannot be answered in this case are the following:
- How many people got exposed to the radio ad?
- Did the relevant potential customers find the commercial’s content interesting?
- How much money was eventually earned thanks to the advertising campaign?
- How fast was the investment returned (if at all)?
- Should any editing be done to the ad’s content?
- Is it a good idea to keep the campaign running, or maybe it’s better to stop it altogether?
- Last but not least – was the whole advertising effort even worth it?
More phone calls / clients / income = successful campaign?
Sometimes – yes, but not necessarily. Those who take their chances and invest their hard earned money in advertising, definitely deserve a better answer than “maybe”.
Here’s why higher calls, e-mails, clients and even income-related numbers don’t necessarily mean that one or another marketing campaign really lives up to its potential.
How can one measure the success of a marketing campaign?
If the business needs clients to call a phone number in order to buy products or book a service, a growing number of incoming calls still doesn’t necessarily mean that the campaign is successful.
It does, only if the conversion rate is high and the potential customers actually become paying clients.
But is it really all about the number of new paying customers that is added when the campaign is working, or maybe the only indication that a business owner should care about is the “investment vs. profit” balance (before and after a campaign is launched)?
Although growing clientele can be considered an indication of success, it does not necessarily mean that the advertising effort is the reason why more people decided to become one or another business’ clients.
The reason could be anything from word of mouth being spread among family members over the phone, to a very positive feedback, written by a satisfied client on Facebook.
Of course, the importance of the bottom line that is business’ pure profit can’t be underestimated.
On the other hand, no conclusions can be made about the success of advertising campaigns from this piece of information, either, because it’s just one out of many parts of the puzzle.
In other words, if John Wanamaker lived today, he would probably have said that he is no longer even sure whether it’s half the money he invests in advertising is wasted, or maybe way more than that.
And what if more than one campaign is used?
So far, only a scenario of a business that uses a single advertising campaign has been discussed.
Unless it’s a new company with an extremely small advertising budget that was founded just recently, rarely do businesses put all their eggs in one basket and spend their entire promotional budgets on a single advertising platform.
What about businesses that use numerous advertising platforms (such as paper flyers, TV/radio commercials, paid advertising on Facebook, Google and Bing PPC campaigns etc.)?
They need a solution that lets the advertiser distinguish between the different customers, in order to be able to analyze each campaign separately and see how well it works.
Once there’s is a way to split the different market segments of the business and see where each one of them comes from, only then will it be possible to measure each campaign in a precise, empirical way. Fortunately, nowadays – there is a way to do this.
As long as a business uses the same contact details in every campaign, there is no magical way to find out how effective each one of them is, or whether each one of them even recoups itself and should be continued.
The solution is to grant each marketing campaign its own identity (different contact details), and then measure the contribution of each phone number or e-mail.
Can a campaign success be measured manually?
Creation of numerous e-mail accounts and the use of automatic forwards is not a challenge.
The challenge is keeping track of the number of relevant messages that every account receives and, most important – the number of deals that get closed through each one of them.
An excel file or a Google spreadsheet can help, but having the process done automatically, without manually counting messages every day would make life much easier.
When it comes to phone calls analysis, things get even harder.
Here are some extremely relevant questions, the answers to which would let an advertiser know how well the communication with the clientele works and how effective every campaign really is:
- How many incoming calls has each campaign contributed?
- How many of them were return calls?
- When was each call received?
- How long was the duration of every phone call?
- How many phone calls were missed and why?
- What are the busiest hours in terms of phone calls?
- How many busy calls there were?
- How many converted calls has each campaign delivered?
- Were there any irrelevant/spam calls (and if so – how many and where did they come from?)
- How much does it cost to score a new client through each marketing campaign and does it pay off?
Putting more than one phone (let alone 4 or 5… one for each campaign!) on each customer service provider’s desk and expecting them to be able to keep track of each and every answered, converted, unanswered and busy phone call (let alone documenting the answers to questions #1-9) is an impractical method, to say the least.
As it was mentioned previously, when the challenges of manual e-mail messages tracking were discussed, the optimal solution is getting the process done automatically, so the advertiser will be able to concentrate on the results and not on the process of information harvest.
The optimal solution for campaign success analysis is the use of virtual phone numbers and call tracking software. Virtual phone numbers are different numbers that lead to the same destination.
Combined with such tool as a call tracking software, they will not only save a lot of space on dispatchers’ desks (and the price that should be paid for dozens of phone devices).
They will also let the dispatchers concentrate on conversations with potential consumers and attempt to convert them into paying clients.
The reason why virtual phone numbers are called so is not only the fact that they “mask” the real destination number, but also because VoIP (Voice over IP) technology is used in order to create and track them.
How exactly this technology works is not the point of the article, what really matters is:
- Virtual phone numbers are as reliable as regular phone numbers (in terms of accessibility and functionality)
- They can be contacted from any landline or cell phone
- The sound quality is as high as that of a landline phone
The bottom line is that customers won’t notice any difference when they call a virtual number. Neither will the clients have to pay more for calling a virtual number, the air time price is the same as that of a landline number.
The customer will have a nice conversation with a relaxed dispatcher (who is not busy writing remarks about the advertising source that brought the call, or anything else related to it).
Meanwhile, the call tracking system will take care of the rest. It will document all the necessary information about the effectiveness level of the campaign that has contributed that incoming phone call.
Another advantage of the use of call tracking is the fact that the advertiser (or the analyst) will be able to access all this data any moment and see up to date, real-time information.
This will help to figure out whether any changes should be made (in the advertisement’s content, budget, or even the functionality of the customers service providers who answer the phone calls).
Having an access to such technological developments as VoIP and call tracking – John Wanamaker would probably say the following:
“Not only do I know how much of the money that I spend on advertising is wasted, but I also know how to minimize that sum, optimize my marketing campaigns and get the most profit out of them”.
In conclusion – the use of call tracking will spare all the “mission impossible” kind of labor that is needed in order to gather all the necessary information about one or another marketing campaign.
This will let the advertiser concentrate on analysis alone and find out how effective each marketing campaign implemented by the company really is.