From local search and mobile campaigns, to email marketing and social media platforms, small business owners have more marketing tools at their disposal today than at any other time in history. As marketers increase the number of tools in their arsenals, however, it often becomes more difficult to determine how customers are finding them and which of their vendors is producing the greatest results.
Sixty-four percent of businesses surveyed by Oracle in 2013 said that the ability to track marketing ROI has been the most important change in the marketing world, however the majority of local merchants still aren’t sure how to compare various hyperlocal channels and measure the effectiveness of different types of campaigns. Here are five strategies for doing just that.
1. Use promotion codes. “Tracking campaign success can be easy if an SMB implements a promotion code strategy. This promo code can be used across all digital campaigns and is the best way to determine what works. The promo code can be a short combination of a few letters or numbers that are unique, so that it can be traced back to the campaign. This code should be unique for each campaign source. If the SMB is using email, they can put this campaign code into a bar code, which can be scanned by the POS system and later analyzed. If they don’t have a POS, or if it is a social media campaign, they can manually track the uses at their register.” (Suzy Teele, SnapRetail)
2. Utilize unique landing pages. “Using tracking tags and utilizing unique landing pages for different campaigns is the easiest practical way to track results — provided you realize it’s not a foolproof way to connect marketing with every transaction. Have a goal of getting smarter with each activity or campaign by getting feedback from as many sources as possible — including asking customers.” (Brian Ostrovsky, Locable)
3. Ask customers outright. “You have to incorporate mechanisms that allow your customers to tell you which media channel was responsible for activating them. The simplest way to do this is to simply ask your customers outright. Your point-of-sale staff should be trained to inquire about how your customers heard about you during every transaction. Empower your staff to track the answers they get — something as simple as tallies with pen and paper — and the data starts to indicate trends pretty quickly.” (Claus Moberg, SnowShoe)
4. Enlist a hyperlocal platform for the job. “Managing multi-channel digital marketing is a full-time job, and most SMB owners are already overwhelmed. So, finding a platform that allows you to manage multiple channels in one interface is crucial. It also ensures more consistent cross-channel marketing practices, making performance comparison more accurate. Campaign performance comparison is infinitely easier, and more accurate, if all the reporting resides in one system, or can be pulled in from various systems automatically. This makes cross-channel optimization a snap.” (Greg McAllister, PushPoint)
5. Accept that there’s no magic bullet. “Accepting that there is no magic bullet is critical, and that allows you to appreciate that each marketing effort you make has a different set of specific benefits. For instance, a banner ad has branding and call-to-action value whereas a sponsored article has branding — thought leadership — and potentially social or SEO value. Crafting a coherent campaign that highlights what makes your business unique and then leveraging the appropriate mediums will ensure the highest return on invest whether it’s fully trackable or not.” (Brian Ostrovsky, Locable)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.