Effective advertising is both an art and a science.   For those of you who are more interested in the latter, call tracking will be right up your alley.

It matters little how beautiful your advertising is if you aren’t getting the desired outcome as a result of your investment.

I talked about managing expectations of marketing in a previous blog.  Once you have set realistic expectations for your campaign, it’s time to begin to track those results.

Most small businesses are opposed to a third party placing a call tracking number in their ad with the fear that once they stop advertising, any calls resulting from that number will be lost once the number expires.  They want to use their own number and that is understandable.  

However, even if you do not opt to have a number placed by a third party (ad agency or publication) you should strongly consider setting up and using the number yourself.

There are several companies that provide this service for a minimal cost.  The one we prefer and have used for years is CallFire.  They offer a variety of marketing tools including call tracking, recording and reporting.  

Once your number is in place, you can monitor the calls routed from your ad.  If you are advertising in multiple publications, it is also recommended that you set up a unique number for each ad.

The call reports from Callfire.com will look like this:  

  

Calls can be recorded for an additional fee and you should inform your callers that your calls are monitored for quality and training purposes.

 

What if we get no calls?

That’s actually great news.  No matter how much you think you can track your calls without a tracking number, unless you are tethered to your front desk ensuring each incoming caller is asked how they heard of you, chances are you will never really know simply due to human error.  Call tracking eliminates any room for error and you can know definitively precisely how many calls did — or didn’t come in.  

Getting absolutely no calls is a great way know that something is not working.  From there, you can go to work on tweaking your ad until it pulls. 

The easiest conclusion to draw when an advertisement fails to make your phone ring off the hook is that the publication the ad was placed in didn’t work.  While sometimes that may be the case, first consider there are several other things that will cause your ad to perform poorly.  Especially if you have placed it in a reputable publication that reliably gets results for other advertisers for years. 

Before throwing your hands in the air and giving up, first consider:

1.  You ad is poorly designed.  

I discuss the basics of effective ad design in a previous blog.  

2.  You have not properly tested the market.  

It takes customers several times in the same market to see your ad before consumers begin to notice it and consider using your service or product.    This is why you should always budget for at least 6 insertions in any medium.  

Think of it this way, when you go to a party and meet new people, how often do you remember them after only one brief encounter?  Or if you are single and at a mixer, how often do you meet someone one time, hit it off and go back to their place?  Think of your potential customer as a single man or woman sitting alone in a crowded bar.  Can you expect to walk right up to them and ask them to sleep with you?  Not likely.  You will need to get to know them and potentially court them as you would any prospective customers.  Your ideal customer will not just hop on the first opportunity to do business with you the first or second time they see your ad.   

3.  Your offer is not wanted or needed

I encourage advertisers to dig deep and make a very generous initial offer coupled with a compelling reason to act quickly.  

If your offer is no different than your competition it will be hard to justify a healthy response to your ad.

4.  The audience is not a good fit for you

After considering all of the above points and tweaking the ad to the best of your ability, it may just be that your product or service is not a good for for the publication’s audience.  But at least you will have given it a comprehensive effort.

There are certain types of advertisers I will not allow to advertise with Hollywood Gazette no matter how badly they want to.   For example, a restaurant that wants to place an ad when they are located anywhere outside of Hollywood simply can’t compete in Hollywood Gazette with local restaurants.  Unless the restaurant is offering something that you cannot get from a closer restaurant there is no way a customer will drive from their neighborhood to another city for the same thing.  

There are also some industries that have historically not performed well — such as pawn shops or ‘work-from-home’ business opportunities.

I hope that the next time you consider creating a marketing plan and budget for the the year, you consider adding call tracking to the mix.  As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.