Asking people where they heard about your business is not a tracking strategy. The data that you get from this kind of informal polling just isn’t that accurate or useful. Decades of mass-media advertising has led to the evolution of powerful defense mechanisms that enable consumers to tune-out most of the ad impressions delivered to them. In other words, they are ignoring your ads. At least they are trying to. It’s a survival instinct. If everyone paid attention to every bit of information flying at them each day, nothing would ever get done. As a result, if you ask a customer “how did you hear about us?” chances are that you will get a random or made-up answer.

Just because the informal polling method doesn’t work does not mean that you cannot effectively track your advertising. One of the easiest ways is to embed campaign-specific offers into your ad content. If you run a special financing deal exclusively on cable TV you can keep track of how many customers ask for it. Online is even easier. By creating a campaign-specific landing page you can measure results by monitoring the traffic to that page. Text messaging is another simple way to track response. It’s now very easy to have your customers send a text message to a specific number to get a coupon or subscribe to a mailing list.

If you do not already, start making embedded tracking mechanisms a part of every campaign you run. The examples above are just a few of the many ways you can do this. It can be a little uncomfortable in the beginning because it will highlight failure as well as it identifies success but the benefits are countless.

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