December 18

Loose Tracking Methods – #1 Reason for Business Failure


Small business owners don’t have money to waste on loose tracking methods, but they keep doing it. It’s the number one reason for business failure because it means you’re constantly bleeding cash into advertising that produces little or no result.
Here are three effective, easy to do fixes for loose tracking methods.

Loose Tracking Methods Fix #1 – Telephone Extensions

An acquaintance came to me after a book signing with a problem. She ran (yes, past tense) a real estate agency with 18 agents. Her problem was that she couldn’t get them to track results from their ads. They all complained it was too much work to keep asking how people heard about them.

Since she had a phone system that allowed up to 1,000 extensions, I told her to start using it. You simply assign each agent 50 extensions. Then they use a different extension for each ad placement. Even if a single ad is placed in ten different publications, each ad placement gets its own phone extension. Then the phone system tracks the results of each ad, right?

The extensions are then recycled from print to radio to flyers. Then it doesn’t matter what media is being used. All the tracking is done based on the phone extension.

She never did implement the tracking. One year later, she had let most of her agents go and was looking at retiring. No small business can afford to waste money by not tracking results.

Loose Tracking Methods Fix #2 – P.O. Boxes

This works just like a phone extension. Each ad placement gets a different post office box. Many places that rent mail boxes allow you to reserve a series of suite numbers when renting a single box. That way, you pick up all your mail from a single box, and sort it based on the suite number in the address.

The two best examples of this are Departments used in television commercials, and good ads in magazines.

Pay attention to commercials that tell you to respond to a specific department or operator. Watch for those commercials on different channels to see how the department or operator changes. The same is true for good magazine ads. Now, I mean good in terms of tracking more than how much you like the ad.

A company split testing ads in a single magazine may have to reply cards – each with a different department or P.O. box number. Successful ads get repeated, and the P.O. box number often changes from month to month, and from magazine to magazine. This allows the retailer to track ad response based on season and publication. I’ve applied this tracking to get results for geographic regions as small as a zip code, and time periods as short as a day (specifically in newspapers).

Loose Tracking Methods Fix #3 – Google Analytics

Everything on the internet can be tracked. Google Analytics is the number one tool for getting that done.

You can track the number of visitors, unique visitors, page views, arrival URL, departure URL, length of visit – all by the month, week, day and hour. Now, I’m not talking about placing online ads. This is just about how people get to your site, what they do there, and where they go after leaving. You can see which pages are most popular, and give visitors more of that content. You can see how they’re getting to your site and focus your traffic generation methods on the most productive sources.

Installing Google Analytics onto a self-hosted WordPress blogsite is simple since there is a WordPress plugin for doing just that.

Last Words

There are nearly limitless ways to track your advertising. Most of them are easy and automatic. The process of training staff members to ask how customers heard about you is effective, and you should keep using it. It’s also the hardest to implement and maintain. Amazingly, it’s also the number one method relied upon by most small business owners. (Are you seeing why loose tracking methods are the #1 reason for business failure?)

How do you track the results of your advertising? Do you track results? Share your experiences, and I’ll share proven recommendations for improving your results.


advertising, google, small business marketing, tracking methods

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