Yes, you heard it right, we’re taking the URL offline for this piece to show you how to track offline marketing activities using branded links.
URLs are essential for online marketing campaigns, but they can be just as useful offline. Let’s move away from the computer for a moment, and expand the horizons of the custom short link.
But doesn’t online marketing make offline a little useless?
Sure, digital marketing has boomed in the last decade.
However, the popularity of online marketing doesn’t make offline promotion obsolete. There are many tactics you can use “in the real world” to engage with your consumers. Besides, you’ll know if offline marketing is worth investing in if you monitor it in the same way you would track other digital marketing channels.
Could I be so bold to suggest that, with the competitive digital marketing space, perhaps creative offline marketing could be a way to stand out…
Either way, if you are using a couple offline marketing tactics, why not maximize them? One way to do just that is to start using a custom link shortener.
Your offline marketing might include anything from business cards, t-shirts, banners, billboards, newspapers, magazines, fliers, radio advertising, car wraps – or even tattoos.
By featuring custom short links on these materials, you’ll be adding a ton of value. Apart from having links that are pronounceable, memorable and easy to type out, they are also measurable. This means you’ll be able to track your efforts that much better.
Let’s get your creative mind flowing by looking at some specific examples of how to use branded links to track offline marketing methods. But first…
How Do You Actually Track the Success of an Offline Campaign?
A lot of people will share their main domain on a billboard. Or a hashtag. Or maybe just a logo… But these are all terrible ways to monitor the success of your marketing efforts as they do not allow you to granularly track the success from “THIS” billboard, or “THESE” 1,000 fliers, or whatever your “this” is.
With branded links, however, you can create a unique custom link for every billboard, magazine ad, affiliate promoter, neighborhood, etc.
And even better, you can cater that link to the magazine or neighborhood:
For Time magazine, you could use: mybrand.link/Time
For a billboard in Carlsbad, you could use: mybrand.link/Carlsbad
Think that’s more memorable? Think that will drive more traffic? I’d bet on it.
Changing the Destination URL
Ever run a live marketing campaign, drive tons of business and then when your promotion ends, you’re still getting some residual traffic and exposure?
Using Rebrandly, you can change the destination URL of the billboard link (or the magazine link, or whatever) and update it to lead to a new location. You could redirect to a “sorry you missed the promotion” page, to the homepage or even to your latest promotion.
Often you see outdoor signage staying up for ages, long past the promotion date, so this is a real opportunity to improve the experience of every visitor.
Why it’s Important to Track Offline Marketing Campaigns
Why is this important? Because, using a tool like Rebrandly, you can then track how many clicks each of these links receives. You can even see detailed data about visitors – their location, language, device, browser and the times they typed the link into their browser. Add UTM parameters to each link and you can track offline marketing activities inside Google Analytics to see how many conversions they drove.
Wouldn’t you like to know which neighborhood performs 300% better?
Which billboard brought you 90% of your revenue?
Which promoter never brings you any business?
To quote legendary advertiser John Wanamaker:
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
John said that back in the early 1900s. There is no excuse today.
You should always know “which half” with today’s technology, and you will if you use a branded URL shortener like Rebrandly.
So if you’re on board because you know how and why to do it, let’s dive in and check out some examples.
14 Offline Marketing Link Tracking Opportunities
Here’s a bunch of missed, and successful, opportunities for offline advertisers to think about the next time they are putting together their next campaign:
Billboards can cost a whole lot of money. And because of that, when printing one, companies need to get creative to grab their viewers’ attention.
For this reason, we’ve seen more and more interactive poster campaigns from brands like Carlsberg and Pepsi. These aren’t just gimmicks, but strategic moves to get more exposure and returns from outdoor advertising investments.
An easier way to get bang to your buck is to add a custom short link.
That way, you can encourage more engagement by giving them a memorable call to action, perhaps directing them to your online web page to find out more. Why end the journey at the billboard?
You can also add different short links to your various billboards to see which locations are bringing in the most clicks.
Aside from this example being hilarious, it could have been optimized to drive people to a website where people can hate on Steven, or even donate to Emily.
Whether it’s a banner, poster, wall mural or transit advertising, custom short links can be used in lots of clever ways.
This is a perfect example of a missed opportunity:
This could say something like downtown.click/ToApply instead of having a completely useless Apply Now “button” printed on it.
One minor change could have gotten Downtown Works untold more business.
These images show how easily marketing can get lost. With no actionable CTA that jumps out and says hello to passers-by, these posters aren’t doing much for its brand.
Capturing someone’s attention is hard enough, don’t waste the opportunity by not giving them the next step. Everyone has their phone on them these days, a custom link would drive real website visitors that you can then track and engage with at a later time.
Promotions and Competitions
When you’re promoting a new product, or running a competition, using a custom short link is essential.
With competitions, you can encourage people to enter right there and then, with a link that takes them straight to your competition landing page. And you can, of course, use different links for different locations to see where your highest levels of engagement are coming from.
With product promotion, you have an opportunity to direct people further down the sales funnel. In this billboard, Nivea missed a huge opportunity.
They could have easily used a custom short link to take people straight to the specific product page, a discount coupon page, a product video, or even to a store finder for the area the billboard is in.
Don’t be like Nivea, use a branded short link as your call to action in your product ads.
In a lot of cities around the world, people are commuting. In-transit advertising is popular and highly effective for this reason.
And apart from the heavy traffic, people also spend a good amount of time waiting around. While they are sitting on a bus or waiting at the station, your outdoor advertising could grab their attention.
Your custom short link could take them anywhere you want them to go. You could even make it more value-driven, and provide a custom short link that gives them something cool to read or an online game to play while they wait.
This is an ironic example of a missed opportunity:
“Imagine What Comes Next.” I’m still imagining… because you didn’t give me anything to do…
People may stop for a moment and read the sign. They may even like the colors and remember it for a short time.
But, why end the journey there?
At that moment, while you are wondering what they’re talking about, give them a short memorable link they can use to find out more information.
Something like shanghai.click/FindOut could take this campaign to a whole new level.
Can you see now how custom short links can start to connect your offline and online marketing efforts?
Advertising on vehicles has been around for ages. But its hard to stand out and be remembered in the busy street.
Having a short, memorable custom link in your ad could be just the answer.
Putting your website here is a huge missed opportunity. This doesn’t allow you to track the success of “this” particular bus ad – any of your bus ads for that matter.
Imagine instead, a big and bold custom short link like tennis.fans/GetDiscountTickets
It could go to a custom landing page that sells tickets to an upcoming event.
You can track A to B to C and in your next meeting say – “We spent $18,000 on bus ads and it generated $48,000 in sales.”
The way it stands now, all you can say is “We have no clue if it worked, but surely it helped us sell some tickets.”
I’ve seen some companies use a QR code in this kind of situation. Please do not! If you haven’t been paying attention, QR codes are dead (except in China).
Instead, use a branded link to track the traffic being driven from your conference attendees. Again, as this stands, ‘Public Sector Network’ has no idea if the person landing on their website is from this event or elsewhere.
The first that comes to mind is the old, faithful business card. These little fellows have been around for many centuries and I doubt they’ll vanish anytime soon. There is something about giving someone a printed card, something they can touch and then put into their wallets to keep.
Having a custom short link on your business card gives people an easy way to contact you. For example, I have Derric.link/Card on my card, which is a simple and pronounceable URL that will take you directly to my Facebook page.
It’s pretty neat, and you could create a bunch of them on your card, like Derric.link/Facebook, Derric.link/LinkedIn, Derric.link/Address, and so on.
What’s also pretty cool is that, if your details change, you can just update the destination URL without affecting the short link.
This gives printed materials like business cards an extended shelf life, so that you don’t have to re-print them every time you make a change to your website.
Think about it, you could hand out your business cards to people at an event, and months later when you change jobs or launch a new website, you can just edit the destination URL and you know that all those business cards will still be useful.
Newspapers, Magazines and Books
There is a huge opportunity to use custom short links in printed advertising like magazines, newspapers and books.
For instance, at the end of a newspaper article, instead of ending the conversation with your reader, you could sign off with a short link – encouraging them to take an action and engage further. Having nytimes.press/subscribe or nytimes.press/GetAnExclusive could drive more visits to your online platform.
The same can be applied for magazines, and there are scores of ways you can use them.
Take this recipe book:
In this spread, you could include a custom short link with added info. Something like tasty.tips/Kale
This could take them to your blog, where you could continue to nurture the relationship.
Overall, custom short links actually give you the opportunity to make your offline work more for your online.
So don’t stop at the last sentence, get your readers to keep engaging. And make it easy for them.
Flyers, Tent Cards, Brochures and Everything Else
There are a lot of other printed materials companies are still using offline. I’m putting them together in one section because custom short links can be used for every one of them, in a ton of ways.
It all depends on your call to action.
So when you’re next printing your event flyers or product brochures, think about how you can use custom short links. Think about how you can extend the item’s reach, and encourage readers to engage further.
If you’re handing out event flyers, a short link with a CTA to buy tickets would be useful, or perhaps a short link that opens up the location in Google maps.
When printing items like product catalogs and brochures, custom short links can be very useful.
The downside of printed items is that they date, and all the time and money you put in often goes to waste.
You could add a bold short link inviting people to see what your latest products are, so that even if your brochure is from 2015, they can visit your brand.click/OurLatestProducts and see what you’re doing right now. Being able to edit your destination URL is really crucial for this.
This could be an opportunity to keep the conversation alive with an old customer months later when they happen to glance over at your brochure or flyer that has become a counter coaster.
Short links on coasters could also be pretty cool. I don’t have an image example, but if you do, do post it in the comments below.
Imagine having drinks with friends and a coaster read Bud.fans/DrinkingGame
This would be a great opportunity for Bud beer to engage with it’s target market at the right time, adding value to their experience and building brand awareness.
T-Shirts are still a popular promotional material, especially at events. You can get your staff to wear them each with their own custom short link, and direct viewers to different URLs relevant to your event. Be it to a video, presentation PDF, or a website. Anything you want.
Speaking at Events
I’ve been to many events, and while watching an engaging talk I find myself torn between taking notes and actually listening to the speaker.
How awesome would it be if every speaker had a memorable custom short link up on their slides, so that I could just take that down and instantly download their presentation. Or a short URL to link directly to any of their social channels so I could connect with them later.
That leaves me much more time to enjoy the presentation.
This article could go on for days, as there are loads of opportunities to use custom short links to track offline marketing initiatives.
These memorable, pronounceable and measurable links give you the ability to properly track your campaigns and bring those offline engagements online.
This can be the difference between a could-be customer and a lifelong customer.
Make sure to implement this strategy in your next marketing campaign, and then actually study and report on the results to find out what worked for you and what didn’t.
You can’t afford to be like John Wanamaker and waste half your advertising budget.
Has this article given you any ideas of where you may start using custom short links offline? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
- How to track offline marketing metrics
- UTM parameters made simple
- UTMs and URLs: 10 optimization tips
- How does a URL shortener track clicks?
This Article is About:
- How to track offline marketing
- Track offline marketing campaigns
- Offline marketing examples
- Ways to track offline marketing
Originally Posted: July 6th, 2017.
Post Updated: August 30th, 2018.