by John Eberhard

It is vital for any business to track both the amount and type of promotional materials that are going out each week from the business, and the number of leads that are coming in and where they came from. By “where they came from” I mean what prompted that person to contact your company?

I continually run into companies that are not tracking one or both of these factors, making it impossible to analyze what kind of response they are getting to their offline or online marketing efforts.

Promo Tracking

Let’s start with promo tracking first as that is what starts the cycle. You should develop a method of tracking what promotional actions you do each week, with the media used (i.e. ad in newspaper, email, direct mail piece, etc.), the number sent, the list sent to, and a copy of the piece.

I have seen companies do this with a binder, with copies of the piece used, and all other relevant data recorded in the binder. You can also do this with a spreadsheet, as long as you also have a copy somewhere of all the pieces used.

The point of this is that you will experience affluences and valleys in your leads and sales. And you will want to know what you did that caused an affluence, so that you can reinforce that action and cause more of the affluence.

And when you see a downtrend in the leads and/or sales, you want to be able to analyze why that happened. Almost always it will be some change that was made that caused the downtrend, either dropping the promo amount down to a lower amount, or dropping it out completely. Or it could be that a new promotional piece or action is not working as well as a previous one.

A long term downtrend can also be caused by changes in the target public’s attitudes, changes that you’re not aware of. And your promotional materials don’t take that change into account. In this case you should survey your public, or survey them again if your existing survey data is older than a year or two. As an example of this, many people’s attitudes about buying things changed significantly in 2008 when the economy took a dramatic downturn. If you’re still using the same marketing materials as you were prior to 2008, you need to re-survey your public.

If you do have an effective promo tracking system in place, you can look at what went out when, and then compare that to the leads coming in, and figure out which promotional actions are working well for you.

Leads Tracking

Lead tracking is a simple process, but it has to be done religiously. You must have a method of tracking every single lead that comes in, with the name of the person and company name, the date, and what prompted them to contact you.

Getting the correct data on what prompted them to contact you can be a little tricky at times, because people unfortunately will routinely give you the wrong data on this. I’ve seen people answer this question by saying they heard about the company on TV, when the company has never advertised on TV, and similar situations.

With certain types of promotional materials, you can use a numeric code, so that when someone calls in they can give you that code. For instance, on direct mail you can put a numeric code at the bottom and then ask the person for the code when they call. With an email promotion, the person will click on a link and then fill out a form on a landing page, and you can set up that landing page so that when they fill out the form, it can have a code in the subject line of the email that comes to you.

There are phone tracking services where you pay a monthly fee for the use of certain phone numbers. When someone calls that number, it bounces over to your regular phone number. But the call was tracked and most services will even record the call so you can listen to it later, checking on how your receptionist or salesperson did in handling the call. This is especially helpful with certain types of online promotion where a good percentage of the leads come in via phone.

If you are doing a lot of email promotion, sending to different lists, I would assign a different code for each list, so you can track how many people came in as leads from each list.

With pay per click advertising with Google AdWords, Google’s system gives you very sophisticated statistics on how many people clicked on your ads and how many filled out a form on your web site and became a lead.

The point is that you want to set up your promotion in such a way that you get as accurate data as possible on where your leads are coming from. And as much as possible, I try not to rely on the people telling me, because their data will often be inaccurate or incomplete, such as “I saw something on the Internet.”

No system of lead tracking will be 100% foolproof, but you want to get as much accurate data as you can.

With accurate and complete promo tracking and lead tracking, you can analyze the results of your marketing campaigns and make adjustments to keep things going up.