Thursday, July 15, 2010

Analytics for Offline: The "Other" White Meat?

Back in the day, there was a television campaign that has since been parodied to death. "Pork: The Other White Meat," the ads drilled into our heads.

These days, using analytics to measure online marketing efforts is something on everyone's minds. Even technophobes are starting to familiarize themselves with phrases like "exit rate" or "bounce rate." Using analytics to measure web campaigns might be today's marketing chicken.

Like the ads of yore, I am here to talk about something that is similar in a lot of ways to measuring online tactics. It's just the "other" thing you can measure with analytics. Today's marketing pork. That would be everything you do "offline."

This concept was brought to my attention about a month ago when I watched a presentation by the incomparable Avinash Kaushik. Kaushik, if you have not encountered him yet, is a master of Google Analytics. He can make reading the program seem like "reading" Amelia Bedelia, and he can inspire you to measure anything and everything you do. In this particular presentation, Kaushik was preaching about the value of using Analytics programs to measure marketing tactics that are not happening in the online world.

A novel concept, to be sure, but the fact is that even though a lot of people are not talking about this as a key to success, programs like Google Analytics can measure the effectiveness of campaigns that go nowhere near a computer. Here are some examples of how offline marketing efforts can be measured using Google Analytics.

Print Advertising Campaign: There are two ways Google Analytics can be used to measure the success of a print advertising campaign.

For a general, impressionistic idea, take a benchmark of your stats at the beginning of a month, then look again after your ad hits. Keep an eye on your stats for the next week or so. Does your traffic spike? If so, then you are probably effectively engaging your customers with a strong call to action.

The other way to measure a print ad campaign's success is to create specific landing pages on your site, knowing that any traffic to those pages will be from your ad campaign. In this latter scenario, you can not only track how much traffic comes to that page, but you can also find out if people are interested enough to visit other pages of your website or if they simply bounce out of your site entirely.

Trade Show: Google Analytics can be a really effective way to measure the impression a trade show has made on your prospects and customers. We recommend measuring at three different stages:

Leading up to the show. Are your promotion efforts working? Does your traffic spike after sending out a pre-show direct mail piece, for example?

During the show: Are people finding your booth and your sales materials, along with your message, interesting? Benchmark your statistics before you leave for the show, then take a look after the show. Did your efforts seem to pay off? Again, a landing page or a promotion can really put a fine point on your measuring in these cases.

Don't forget about those post-show follow-ups. Scanning a person's name tag does not a lead make. Send a nice folder stuffed with your finest literature pieces along with a link to your website. Does your traffic spike a few weeks after the show has ended?

News Release: In the case of a news release, take a look at your stats for specific pages that would be affected, namely anywhere the new product or feature is presented. Although you can look for a spike immediately after a news release is sent, that won't really tell the whole story. It can sometimes take months for a news release to get published in a leading publication. When you find out that your story has been picked up, keep an eye on you analytics for 2-3 days after that. Does it move?

Direct Mail: Much like an ad, a direct mail piece can be developed so that it entices recipients to visit your website. A call to action or a promotion of some type is especially effective in these cases. Again, take a benchmark of your overall site, but a specific landing page can be a big help in tracking a direct mail campaign in the same way it can help to track a print ad's success.

Google Analytics is not perfect, of course. A campaign should not be panned or made the one and only focus based on the rise and fall of the traffic graph. However, Google Analytics can give you a pretty good clue as to how offline and online campaigns are performing, and actionable items can follow.

Have you had experience measuring offline campaigns using Google Analytics? I'd love to hear about it!

Image by Anna Moderska.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Marjorie!

In a more technical manner,few months back Allaedin Ezzedin of E-Nor wrote a nice post about offline tracking using GA. Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

Sorry here is the E-Nor's link again

Real Life Mad Man said...

Wow, that post is AMAZING.

Thanks for posting that. Phew.