How Can I Track Marketing Performance from Print Collateral?

So the source material of your latest marketing campaign is non-digital – a flyer, print catalog or magazine ad. Most marketers would simply shrug at the thought of doing any performance tracking. If they want performance metrics, let them build a mobile app.

Well, Marie Antoinette,  there are always ways to track results. It’s easier than you think to measure ROI from your non-digital marketing materials, and with a little effort, you’ll be a heroine for doing it. The most common tracking mechanisms are through using unique URLs, unique codes, and best of all, unique phone numbers.

Defining Success

As you get your tracking into place, you’ll need to begin defining what will be considered a success and introducing those ideas to your stakeholders. Remember that all advertising has a certain “brand awareness” quotient, but only if enough saturation is done in a particular channel to create familiarity and force a consumer action. However, this exercise is designed to see if the marketing collateral is strong enough to prompt consumers to take an immediate action.

First, you need to determine whether any tracking for similar print collateral has been done in the past. If so, then you have some precedent – number of calls/leads/signups/sales –  and can work with your stakeholders to use those metrics as a basis for comparative value.

If this is the first time tracking is being utilized, then you may be best off framing it as a benchmarking exercise so that you can determine whether particular channels actually add any direct value. For example, if you’re advertising a contest in three magazines, you can set up unique tracking for each ad with the expressed purpose of seeing which of the three magazines triggers more entries. While your benchmarking exercise will no doubt reveal some disappointments, it may reveal which magazines are better investments for future campaigns.

Unique URLs and Codes

Use a domain or folder structure that is not in use for any other purpose. For example, if we were to hold a contest for inverse typing enthusiasts, we would not use our main domain,, on the flyer, because it gets thousands of visitors each  month. Instead we might create, and print on the catalog.

After the catalogs were mailed, we would then count only the “direct” traffic to that page, being fairly confident that all visits to the page resulted from the catalog campaign since the page is inaccessible from navigation. To make doubly sure that all responses are from the catalog campaign, you could also include print a unique code that visitors must input onto a form on the page. And if you’re really hardcore, you could also use a robots.txt command to block the page from search engine spiders.

Call Tracking

Call Tracking Software

Call Tracking Infographic by IfByPhone

If you have sales reps standing by, provision a unique phone number specific to the campaign and use it exclusively for that purpose. If basic phone tracking is all you need, try using Twilio, a great service that allows you to provision, track and record phone numbers on the fly. If you’d also like to track Web visitors, try a call conversion tracking service such as IfByPhone, which recently made our list of the best evidence-based marketing tools.

You’ll be issued a snippet of javascript that will contain the campaign-specific phone number, and you’ll have the option of tracking the campaign success in Google Analytics.



One Response to “How Can I Track Marketing Performance from Print Collateral?”

  1. Daniel June 21, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    or you just do it the easy way :) :

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