The Importance of Data: Before,
During and After an Ad Campaign
With so many advertising choices available to small-business owners, it’s important to test and track a variety of options to see which work best for you. Using a mix of print, radio, TV, website, billboard, direct mail and other media options can be too expensive for local companies, and relying on one or two methods for more than a year can lead to diminishing returns. Tracking your response through your staff, coupons and sales data will help you make more effective advertising choices.
Follow these five easy steps:
Compare your sales before, during and after the campaign begins if your advertising campaign has a specific start date. Take into consideration that your sales won’t spike the day the campaign begins or drop the day it ends when you analyze sales reports. Test an ad campaign in a particular location to see if your sales rise in that area during the campaign, letting you know if it will likely work if you roll it out regionally or nationally.
Use unique contact methods. Track the response to one ad or an entire campaign using a special toll-free number, website address or coupon code you use only with that ad or campaign. This is one of the easiest methods for tracking results directly to an advertisement, promotion, direct mailing or other marketing effort.
Make personal queries of customers to determine if a particular advertising method is working. Ask your customers how they heard of you and make it a requirement that your sales staff gather this information from customers. Have them submit a weekly report to the marketing manager. Include this question on any website forms you have that customers and potential customers submit. Compare the traffic to your website and in your store before, during and after the ad campaign to determine if you see a rise in customer activity during the campaign. These visits, especially to your website, might not result in immediate purchases but can increase brand awareness and lead to future sales.
Use coupons, discounts and rebates to track how a specific promotion performed. Include a coupon in a print publication, ask broadcast viewer or listeners to mention a particular promotion for a percentage discount or offer a rebate on a purchase when the consumer redeems a form. Don’t assume these methods represent your total response to the campaign. Many consumers might respond to your advertising but forget to use the coupon, think the amount of the coupon is not worth the trouble to clip and save it or not remember where they saw your ad.
Use website traffic statistic tools, which come free or at a low cost with many websites or hosting packages. Track how much traffic you generate during specific times, which sites referred users, which pages were most viewed, how many unique visitors you had and how many pages they viewed while at your site. Free social media programs such as Facebook business pages also provide helpful visitor and traffic stats.
- Don’t assume that just because your sales rose in response to an advertising campaign it means the campaign was profitable. Calculate the net profits you made from the campaign if you’re able to track the sales you generated from an advertising effort. Subtract that from the cost it took to run the campaign, which includes media buys, ad creation, discounts and staff time. Determine if increase in sales justified the expenditure, and what else you might have done with your money and staff time instead of using that advertising method.
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