Tracking the effectiveness of ads?

Subject: Tracking the effectiveness of ads?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Bruce Byfield'" <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 13:53:18 -0400

Bruce Byfield is organizing a print ad campaign and wants <<... to evaluate
the effectiveness of advertising in each source... So far, I've thought of
two means of tracking: 1.) Find out when each magazine will be on the shelf
and track
activity on the company web site, as well as phone calls in the next five
days or so. This approach will worst best if each
magazine one at a time to the list of venues.>>

That'll work fine, but you then run the risk of having only one magazine
carrying your ad at a time, thereby diluting the effectiveness of your
campaign over a longer period. Not the way I'd do it.

<<Put some sort of tracking code into the ad that people can refer to when
they contact the company. However, I'm not sure that people will bother
unless there's some reward for using the code, and the company is cautious
about possibly open-ended expenses.>>

The trick is to make the tracking code both unavoidable and desirable for
the reader to mention when they ask for information or order the product. If
you're talking about a "fill in the blanks and mail or fax it" form, then
all you need to do is include the code in the body of the form, where it
automatically travels along with the form. If you're taking orders over the
phone, set a discounted price for the product: for example, if you want to
sell it for $100, announce the price as $105, with a $5 discount if they
tell you where they saw the ad. (Or be more honest and announce it for $100
and sell it for $95 and accept the lost profit as the cost of doing
business. Adjust prices as necessary to reflect reality.) If the form is on
the Web, then it's a piece of cake to track the source: use a URL that
contains the code! For example, "to order our product, head over to and fill out an order form". (The /tw is the code that
tells you the order came in via techwr-l. Any "hit counter" on your web site
will tell you how often that page was accessed, which in turn tells you how
many people were referred to your site by a particular ad.)

If you'd like to pick up more marketing tips, have a look at "Poor Richard's
Internet Marketing and Promotions" (Peter Kent and Tara Calishain, Top Floor
Publishing, 1999. 404 p.) You can find more information online at and I don't have any ties to the
publishers, though given how often and how enthusiastically I recommend
their books to colleagues, it's long past time I set up a Web site and
hooked up with their affiliate program so I could start collecting
commissions. <g>In the meantime, I'm working on a review of this book, which
hopefully will appear in one of my upcoming columns.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot; others transform a
yellow spot into the sun."- -Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

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