With so much attention on online marketing, it can be easy to forget that offline campaigns are still a viable option for many areas of the market. In fact, offline marketing — using channels including billboards and postcards — can now be seen as a way to stand out among the saturated online marketplace.
But how do you track these campaigns? How can you know whether they are working? There are actually several techniques for measuring offline campaigns, thanks in part — ironically — to today’s technology.
Custom Landing Pages/Custom Domain
Sending offline traffic to a custom landing page or custom domain is one of the best and most used methods for tracking offline campaigns. With this strategy, when a lead or customer visits your unique page, you’ll know exactly where they came from because the only way they could have known about the URL is via that specific ad.
For example, if you own a sporting goods store in your local community, you can run an ad during the football season in the school’s paper or local paper directing people to a unique landing page (such as yourbusiness.com/gohawksfootball.com) that highlights the football gear you have in stock. Because you’re only providing this unique URL via this ad, you’ll know that your page views and purchases from that page came directly from that ad.
It’s important to use a “noindex meta tag” on these custom landing pages so that they’re not visible to search engines. This will not only avoid getting visitors to your page from sources other than your ad, but it will also keep you from being penalized SEO-wise for having duplicate content. To use a noindex meta tag, add < meta name=“robots” content=”noindex” > to the HEAD section of the pages you are going to create for these campaigns.
Similar to a custom landing page, a redirect domain is essentially providing a unique web address for each ad or audience. When visitors go to the unique web address, they’re redirected to the part of your main website that’s relevant to them.
For example, if you own a fitness center with multiple locations and you have promotions reps driving around your region with car magnet advertisements, you can include domains like SanFranFitness.com, SantaCruzFitness.com or MonterreyFitness.com on the magnets for each respective town. When someone visits one of those unique sites, they’ll be redirected to the specific part of your main website related to that location. Be sure to make the domain you’re promoting easily memorable and easy to type. You’ll be able to see how many visitors came in through each redirect domain so you can measure the effectiveness of your outreach in each area.
Unique Discount Codes
By including a unique discount code on a piece of direct mail or a print ad, and then measuring how many people used that code, you’ll know exactly how many people saw that particular piece of mail or ad and used the discount code as a result. You can even use unique discount codes per individual: Have you ever gotten a piece of direct mail with an odd code such as “JAGJH4”? That business is providing a unique code to each person receiving that direct mail so it can measure specifically who is responding to their outreach.
To use discount codes, you will need a marketing automation platform that supports and tracks these codes. These platforms will automatically generate the unique codes, tie them to your contact information in your CRM, and track the use of your codes.
UTMs, also known as “Urchin Tracking Modules,” are words or phrases appended to a URL that allow you to see where your page’s traffic comes from. There are six sections of UTMs that are used to differentiate one from another. In each section, you can put a word or phrase that you understand and can recognize later on that will help you identify where a lead came from:
- Website URL: The destination URL you wish to track
- Source: The type of campaign you are running such as Google, Facebook, newsletter, or magazine
- Medium: Type of campaign such as CPC, CPA, banner, email
- Name: Product name, promo code name
- Term: Paid keywords or other distinguishing factors of the ad or ad group
- Content: Image, content or other distinguishing factors to differentiate one ad from another
Let’s say you run a clothing company and want to launch campaigns on Facebook, Google, email newsletters, magazines and billboards promoting your spring releases. When you make a sale, you’ll want to know where it came from. This is where the detailed information in your UTM comes into play.
The tracking code is so detailed that one look at it will tell you that your new customer was reading your magazine promotion, came across your spring release ad called “swimwear,” and liked it enough to search for it online.
The real question is how do the magazine or billboard readers actually know how to find your content in a trackable way? Placing a shortened version of the long URL on your offline ads is key. Nobody wants to sit there and type out a long, convoluted string of characters. Use a shortener like bitly to automatically generate a shortened URL.
Now that you better understand the types of tracking techniques at your disposal, what are the different types of campaigns that can be run offline?
Types of Offline Campaigns
Most offline campaigns are fairly straightforward and you may see them on a daily basis. However, there may be a platform you haven’t considered yet that can have exceptional potential for added revenue and growth for your business.
Billboards? Yes, billboards! Consider this: The average American is stuck in traffic for 42 hours a year. That’s more than a typical work week! Just think of the vast number of people sitting there hoping for a distraction to their mundane, daily commute. Help their wandering, weary eyes by letting them gaze upon your beautifully crafted advertisement. Although it can be expensive to initially set up and then run on a monthly basis, you’ll never know if it works until you try and track it. Find the average cost of a billboard in your area to see if this is a viable option for your business.
- Bus stop: Millions of Americans ride their local bus lines every day. In fact, there are over 6 billion individual bus trips within the United States every year. Bus stop ads are a great way to target those daily commuters while also reaching anyone walking by the bus stop.
- Subway/Metro: Subways, especially in the larger cities, are an immense opportunity for businesses looking to get their name in front of millions. In 2016 in New York, 5.7 million people rode the subway; in Washington D.C. there were over 215 million trips; and on the Chicago L there were over 241 million.
Vehicle Wrap: In addition to ads at the public transportation stops and stations, you can put ads on or inside the transportation vehicle itself. Ads on the sides of buses, taxis or trains have been around for quite some time. Thousands of people will see these vehicles whiz by them every day.
Wait….as in direct, physical mailing? You betcha. Physical mail does not have a spam folder: What you send gets put straight into the recipient’s mailbox, P.O. box or mail slot. This is a significant way for businesses to place coupons in the hands of local residents while either expanding their reach or driving repeat business. Give it a shot; you might be surprised with the outcome, and it can cost you as little as $1 or less per postcard.
Say you place an ad in Forbes magazine, your local newspaper, or you want to hand out flyers/brochures around town or at an event. This provides you with a big opportunity to help your online presence with offline printed sources. Encourage your audience to engage with you online then provide them with the means to do so via a specific link or a link that sends them to a specific page so you can easily track the offline conversions or leads.