Although digital marketing is on the rise, traditional, offline marketing is still very much alive and well. Magazine advertisements, newspapers, billboards, and even bus-wraps and subway ads can all be powerful marketing tools. However, it’s a bit difficult to account for how all of that information plays into customer-conversion – that’s where offline media tracking comes in.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s start by defining some important terminology – attribution and conversions. Attribution allows you to trace the source of traffic to a website, and conversions give you the insight needed to purposefully (and effectively) allocate your marketing budget.
Conversions are actions you want users to take. They vary from business to business but usually include form submissions, product purchases, and/or phone calls. No matter what kind of tracking you’re doing, these conversions allow marketers to calculate their Return on Ad Spends (ROAS) or Return on Investment (ROI).
There are plenty of ways to effectively track your offline media – let’s take a look at some of them.
Vanity links are shortened URLs associated with your brand. They’re an extremely effective way to keep track of what’s working (and of course, what’s not). Let’s start with an example: if a brand runs a full-page print ad in a magazine that’s advertising that they are hiring new employees, they might include a short URL on the page – a vanity link. The URL should be simple and descriptive so potential recruits can easily recall it.
A company looking to find new employees may add a vanity link that reads something like “brandname.com/work-with-us“. That particular URL will redirect the user to wherever the brand wants them to go (either to an existing page on the website or a dedicated landing page).
Vanity links are created uniquely, one ad at a time, so marketers can track how many page visits were generated by that specific ad.
Call Tracking Numbers
There are various call tracking services available that allow marketers to create tracking phone numbers that redirect to their direct phone line. These numbers can be tracked to determine whether or not ads, pages, and keywords are driving quality inbound phone calls. When someone sees this number listed in a magazine or on a billboard and makes a call, the marketing company can then assess the effectiveness of that particular ad placement.
Niche Landing Pages
Similar to vanity links, custom landing pages help marketers focus on the exact audience they’re targeting. For example, if a dental-care brand places a billboard ad that is specific to toothpaste, they can direct traffic to a custom landing page dedicated to that product. They’ll do this instead of forwarding the customer to a general oral products webpage. This practice helps to increase conversion rates.
When creating a landing page to track a specific offline campaign, it’s best not to index it on search; this is to say, if a user searches for “toothpaste” on Google, the custom landing page won’t come up within search results. It’s usually not accessible via the company’s website either, and therefore, in a way, can be considered hidden. Campaign-specific landing pages can only be accessed via the exact URL displayed on the billboard, so the success of the ad can be clearly measured.
Google Analytics (Lift in Direct & Organic Traffic)
Let’s say a user forgets the vanity link they saw in a magazine or on a billboard but remembers the brand name in which they’re interested. If they really wanted to take advantage of the advertised “toothpaste special” for example, they might go directly to Google or another search engine to find that brand’s website. If Google Analytics shows a lift in direct or organic traffic, it can likely be attributed to the offline ad – especially if it’s seen around the time the ad was published.
Google Search Console (Lift in Branded Searches)
Google Search Console is a tool that tracks organic search queries. You can filter searches within this tool by the date range in which your offline ad was run. If there is a noticeable increase in branded searches within that timeframe, one can infer that it was due to that ad.
Track Your Offline Media with the Help of a Trusted Team
There are lots of ways to track the success of various offline ads but trying many (or all) of them is a surefire way to figure out what works best. One process may be more or less effective depending on your target audience, but all are useful in their own way.