How to track offline marketing metrics

offline-marketing-metrics

One of the many reasons we love digital marketing so much is because it is trackable. Analytics gives us an insight into what works and what doesn’t. At our fingertips, we can access detailed insights into what appeals to our target audience and the content that converts successfully. The more metrics we have, the more we can optimize our marketing strategies. This gives marketers a better ROI and consumers have the benefit of not being spammed with irrelevant, uninteresting content. Everyone wins! But what about offline marketing metrics?

Have you ever wondered how to track print advertising effectively? Or if your PR is working? We’ve come a long way since the days of ‘spray and pray’ marketing and, most often, digital marketing activities are precisely targeted and tracked.

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via Giphy

But for many companies, traditional marketing like billboards, radio ads, and fliers are still an important part of their strategies.

While it can be difficult to measure, there is no doubt that offline marketing is a good way to increase brand awareness. It can bring your business into the real world and provide consumers with multiple touch points for your brand. In fact, with all the noise and battle to get noticed online, offline marketing can be a great way for brands to stand out. When offline and online marketing campaigns are designed to complement one another, this can really benefit your bottom line.

But the problem with traditional marketing methods is that it can be hard to tell if they actually work. And it can be difficult to justify spending a portion of your marketing budget on pricey billboards and newspaper ads when you can’t show your client or your boss that it’s worth it.

But luckily, there are a few ways to use online tools to track the efficacy of our offline marketing efforts. So if you want to know what works for your business, check out these simple ways to gather offline marketing metrics for your business:

Use branded links

Most marketing materials aim to drive traffic to your website. This is particularly important when it comes to offline marketing because there’s only so much information you can squeeze into the limited space of a poster or flier before it starts to look overcrowded. And by driving people to your website, you can take them from one-way communication to a place where they can interact with your brand and, hopefully, convert.

Some clever marketers even manage to make web links central to their offline adverts, as you’ll see in the examples below:

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via wewantyouin.nyc

A lot of offline marketing materials feature a company’s main website domain, but this won’t help you track their success. And if your ad is relevant to a specific product or promotion, the chances are you’ll want to send consumers to a web page specifically about that.

Besides if people wanted to go to your homepage, they’d probably just google your brand’s name.

That’s where branded links come in. You can create a short, memorable and visually appealing link that leads to any page on your website. And if you create a different link for each billboard campaign, set of fliers or newspaper advert, you’ll be able to track the number of people coming to your site from each one.

From printing them on billboards, leaflets, posters, brochures and other publications, to calling them out on the radio or during events, the range of places where you can feature branded links is endless.

You can see how we use branded links on our business cards:

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And in the past we’ve used them on our t-shirts and tote bags:

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Branded links contain your brand’s name, a meaningful TLD and a memorable keyword in the URL slug. This is much better than using long URLs, which are difficult to type, or generic short URLs, which are off-brand and often associated with spam.

Some big names have started using branded links in their offline marketing. For example, French banking group, BNP Paribas, uses branded links on billboards throughout the world to drive traffic to its site. If you type the branded link cib.bnpparibas into your browser, you arrive at cib.bnpparibas.com.

Marketers like StickerRide also use unique domain URLs to measure the online impact of their on-car advertising campaigns.

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via StickerRide

As well as being pronounceable, memorable and measurable, branded links also allow you to change the destination of your URLs. So if you’ve made a big investment in ads and billboards which feature a QR code or branded link, but the advertised promotion has ended, you can redirect visitors to another relevant page or your latest offer.

Include UTM parameters in your links

You can add UTM parameters to your links to make it even easier to keep track of your offline marketing metrics. Though they sound complicated, UTM – or Urchin Tracking Module – parameters are quite simple to use. They are essential for any marketer who wants to accurately track down where their traffic is coming from and attribute their brand’s offline and online marketing activities.

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via giphy

UTM parameters are short snippets of code that you attach to the end of a URL to track information about how visitors came to your site. In this code, you can include information about where the link will be placed and the marketing campaign that it is part of. This way your offline traffic sources and campaigns can be tracked in Google Analytics. If you have conversions set up in your Google Analytics account, you’ll be able to see how many conversions your offline campaign has garnered as well. Learn more about Google’s URL builder and UTM codes here

So, if you’re sending out fliers to advertise your summer promotion, add a UTM source tag of ‘flier’ and a campaign tag of ‘summer-promotion’. Then this information will appear in your analytics reports with the rest of your marketing data. 

Once you’ve added UTM parameters to your links, they’ll be quite long and unappealing, so you’ll have to turn them into branded short links before adding them to your fliers. You can find out more about UTM parameters and how to use them here.

Send consumers to a custom landing page

For particularly big offline marketing campaigns, it can be a good idea to create landing pages specifically for them. This will let you focus on the main goal of the advert and target visitors coming specifically from that campaign. For example, if your advert was about shoes, you can create a landing page focusing on the footwear your business has to offer. That should keep your visitors on track to convert.

via giphy

In Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see how many people visited your custom landing page and assess the success of your campaign as you would when using branded links.

Make sure to keep the URL of your custom landing page short and note down where you have used it in your offline marketing. And if you decide to use this targeted page across several offline marketing activities, you can always create branded links with the landing page’s URL so you can decipher between the impact of the posters and the billboards etc.

If you’re creating more than one landing page, be cautious not to duplicate content as this can damage SEO. If you do create duplicate content, make sure to use a “no index” meta tag so Google won’t index your landing pages.

Track your custom discount codes

If your offline activities feature discount codes or QR codes, make sure to create a custom one for each marketing medium. The number of redemptions or QR code scans will be a good indicator of how engaging your campaign is. Lyft and Uber are great examples of companies using promo codes that are unique and easy to track.

Simply create a memorable code for each magazine advert or flier and keep a log of where each code will appear. Often, marketers even feature the place where the coupon appears in the code. For example, it wouldn’t be unusual for a 20% discount code in a magazine to be something like ‘Vogue20’.

However, there’s one issue when it comes to relying on discount codes for offline marketing metrics. Often, people share codes on social media or on coupon sites and this could skew your results.

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via Paul Wilkinson on Flickr

If you’ve decided to feature a QR code on your business card or your flier, you can create this code for a unique URL and this will allow you to track how often it is scanned.

Google Analytics can offer an estimate

In Google Analytics, you can look at the direct traffic coming to your website to get a feel for how successful your offline marketing is. Direct traffic represents visitors who weren’t tracked coming from other online sources. However, this figure isn’t the most reliable as it will include anyone who directly types your web address into their browser, anyone who has bookmarked your site and, if a visitor has cookies blocked, their visit won’t be registered at all.

It can help to compare your direct traffic figures before and after an offline or PR campaign launches to more accurately gauge how effective it is. Though using branded links in your offline marketing materials will provide more solid insights, this approach can be useful for situations, like media appearances, where a link can’t be included.

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via giphy

Even though because branded links are short and memorable, they’re ideal for audio too.

It’s also useful to filter your Google Analytics reports by geographic region if your brand’s media coverage was on a local station.

 

As well as simply gathering insightful offline marketing metrics to inform future strategies, there is a range of other benefits that come with tracking your traditional marketing efforts.

The accurate data will allow you to make smart decisions on where to invest your marketing team’s time and budget, which should result in an improved ROI and a better conversion rate for your business. You can also compare the impact of two fliers, or posters, or whatever you want, to determine which worked better. This information will let you optimize your next campaign.

You might be surprised to hear that the added knowledge coming from your offline marketing metrics might even inform your digital strategy.

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via Giphy

For example, if one of your billboards did well in a particular neighborhood or city, you can target consumers in this area with online adverts. And by using UTM parameters for your offline marketing, you’re reducing the amount of traffic that is incorrectly classified as ‘direct’ in your analytics dashboard.

Gathering together your offline marketing metrics will keep you informed and allow you to make wise decisions. Have you used branded links or any other methods to track the effects of your offline marketing? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

  • Offline marketing metrics
  • How to track offline marketing metrics
  • How to monitor traditional marketing efforts
  • How to track print advertising effectiveness

Photo in main image by Yonghyun Lee via Unsplash

Louisa McGrath
Louisa works on putting together creative and useful content for Rebrandly customers to read. Though she spends a lot of time reading and writing online, she still loves to buy the Sunday papers.