How to cut down your offline advertising spend

A question over at Small Business Brief made me think how good it would be to share the information I have gleaned on how to cut your advertising spend.

I think it was John Wanamaker that said “Half of my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half”, well the technology of the web allows you to find out which half, or, in other words, it can multiply the ROI no end, as wasted money is wasted!

How many people that run adverts containg a link to their website, simply add without any thought of ad tracking whatsoever, without any thought of page targeting whatsoever? If you do this, then your throwing away a golden opportunity to track the effectiveness of your advertising choice, and your adverts individually.

One of the best things you can do is evaluate your advertising returns properly, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to ask the visitor where they came from.

When the telephone rings, you speak to your customers, and, at the end of the conversation, one of the last things you should do is ask them ‘where did you get our number’? If they say ‘yellow pages, local newspaper etc, ask them why they chose to call you’ you do this because many people will pick up yellow pages to look for your number after having been referred to you by a friend, asking the ‘why’ question will give you the actual source rather than the vehicle for finding your number. If your not doing this THEN DO IT! 😉

But how can we transfer this online?  for sure we get referrer logs, but they will simply show up as direct referrer IE, they typed your URL directly into the browser with no search engine or link page involved 🙁 .THIS is where the real power of online offline comes to the fore. Simply give each of your adverts a unique URL, and your direct referrers from your logs will tell you how many people have visited as a result of seeing that advert, or having been referred to it by word of mouth (WOM). It really doesn’t matter how they got there, be it first generation or WOM, the initial response will be as a result of THAT ad in THAT publication.

I would definitely recommend sub-domains for this, as people will start typing from the beginning of the URL, and as such will add the sub-domain, and not leave off the sub folder details, as they will sometimes with sub-folders. We use a combination of add tracking and publication tracking sub domains (all excluded with robots.txt to prevent the possibility of their getting confused with doorway pages), and it works a treat!

By doing this we have been able to weed out the poorly performing publications, and increase the spend in those which work best, while finding new publications and refining ads. Sub-domains are perfect for this. 

Yellow Pages is a perfect example. Many people have multiple adverts in YP, take for example a wedding car hire and limousine service. (this is a true life example of one of my clients). They advertised in

wedding services
Chauffeur driven car hire
Limousine Services
Specialist travel Services
Airport Transfer

They did not know which of these adverts were working, and at almost £1000 a piece per year it was crucial they found out. by using sub-domains of 
Chaeuffeur.ourdmain etc.
we were rapidly able to identify that two of these adverts were bringing in ABSOLUTELY no business whatsoever. enter a saving of £2000 per year to spend on other things. At the same time we identified that one of them was performing very well, so we increased spend on that one, and totally worked on the advert.

I can not tell you how important it is that you grasp the fact the world wide wen, is NOT an advertising tool, it is a marketing tool. Use it as a marketing tool and you will increase your business. Look at entry and exit pages at least weekly, identify where people are leaving your site and find out why1 identify potential problems with that page, correct them, and get them back into your site. 

I had a client who made bespoke bridal gowns (posh names for wedding frocks 😀 ) I was able to tell her which of here designs were the most and least popular. She was amazed and asked me how I could possibly know that! I pointed out to here that it was simple, as the click throughs from the images of those gowns told us that. We changed the images, removing the underperforming ones and replacing them with softer styles, and business went up.

Log stats reading is a boring as hell, but it is the key to success on the web.

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