A Definitive Guide to Using Branded Links to Track Your Offline Marketing Campaigns
Yes, you heard it right, we’re taking the URL offline for this piece.
URLs are essential for online marketing campaigns, but they’re just as useful offline.
Let’s move away from the computer for a moment, and expand the custom short link’s horizons.
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 useless.
There are many tactics you can use “in the real world” to engage with your consumers.
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 custom short links.
Your offline marketing could include anything from business cards, t-shirts, banners, billboards, newspapers, magazines, fliers, radio, car wraps or even tattoos.
By including custom short links within these materials, you’ll be adding a ton of value. Apart from having links that are pronounceable and memorable, they are also measurable, meaning you’ll be able to track your efforts that much better.
Let’s go through each and look at some specific examples to get your creative mind flowing. 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 track 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 custom link for each billboard, each magazine ad, each affiliate promoter, each neighborhood, etc.
And even better, you can have that link cater to your magazine or neighborhood:
mybrand.link/time (for Time magazine)
mybrand.link/carlsbad (for a billboard in Carlsbad)
Think that will be more memorable? Think that will get more clicks? I’d bet on it.
Ever run a live marketing campaign, drive tons of business, but then your promotion ends, but 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 a new location, possibly a “sorry you missed the promotion” page, or even more simply just the homepage (with some added parameters for tracking purposes).
Often you see outdoor signage staying up for ages, long past the promotion date, so this is a real opportunity to maximize every chance you have of a potential client.
Why is Tracking Your Offline Marketing Campaigns so Important?
Why is this important? Because, using a tool like Rebrandly, you can then track how many clicks each of those links get, and you can even use our tools to add UTM parameters to each link and track through to an on-site conversion inside Google Analytics.
Wouldn’t you like to know which neighborhood performs 300% better?
Which billboard brought you 90% of your revenue?
Which promoter never drives 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 for how to do it, and why to do it, let’s dive in.
14 Examples of Offline Marketing Campaign/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 attentions and make it worth it.
For this reason, we’ve seen more and more interactive poster campaigns from brands like Carlsberg and Pepsi. These aren’t just gimmicks, they are but are strategic moves to get more exposure and returns from outdoor advertising investment.
An easier way to add for 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 different billboards and see which locations are bringing in the most clicks.
Aside from this example being hilarious, it could have been able to drive people to a website where people can beat up 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. This was a costly mistake.
These images how easily marketing can get lost in the crowd, with no actionable CTA that jumps out and says hello to it’s passers by.
Capturing someone’s attention is hard enough, don’t waste the opportunity by not giving them a 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’s landing page. And you can, of course, use different links for different locations to see where your highest engagement is coming from.
With product promotion, you have an opportunity to direct people further down the purchase journey. In this billboard, Nivea missed a huge opportunity, probably costing themselves thousands of dollars.
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 in the specific 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 amount of 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 drive, and give them a custom short link that gives them something cool to read or link them to 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?
In that moment, while you are wondering what they’re talking about, give them a short memorable link and get them to you online platform.
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 efforts with your online?
Advertising on vehicles has been around for ages. But if often feels as though nothing stands out enough to be remembered in the busy street.
Having a short, memorable custom link in your ad could be just the answer.
Putting your website is a huge missed opportunity. This does not allow you to track the success of “this” bus ad, or really any of your bus ads for that matter.
Imagine insead, a big and bold custom short link like tennis.fans/GetDiscountTickets.
It goes 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 I’m certain 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 from anywhere else across the internet.
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’ll put into their wallets and 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 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 newspaper article, instead of ending your 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 somewhere down the line.
Short links on coasters could also be pretty cool. I don’t have an image example, but if you do, post it in the comments below.
Imagine, while having drinks with friends your 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 link 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 in your offline marketing initiatives.
These memorable, pronounceable and measurable links give you the ability to properly track your offline marketing campaigns, and bring those offline engagements online.
This could 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.