In marketing, you want to know what works and what doesn’t so that you can
optimize what works making it work even better. By keeping track of the
responses that you get to a marketing campaign and understanding what prompted
those responses, you can identify which tactics succeeded and which did not.
Tracking helps you achieve a higher return on your marketing investment.

What do you want to do?

Determine what you need to track
Set up the tracking mechanism
Track the responses to your campaign
Evaluate the campaign

Prepare for the next marketing campaign

Determine what you need to track
Before you start a marketing campaign, consider carefully what information is important to track
and who you want to target. For example, if you already know which of your
customers are men and which are women, you might want to send different
promotions to each gender. If you don’t know, that might be information that you
want to track this time, so that you can better target your future

What do you know before you start?

The information that you collect about your customers is the foundation
for an effective marketing effort. When you collect customers’ personal
characteristics and organize customers into groups that share characteristics,
it becomes possible to see patterns in their responses that are based on their
common characteristics.

When you link customers’ responses to the significant characteristics
that influenced their decision to respond, you develop a rich store of knowledge
for serving your customers better and improving the success of your subsequent
marketing efforts.

Here are a few examples of the characteristics that you can track and
what you can learn from them:
Repeat customers If you identify your repeat customers, you can contact
them to determine why they keep coming back or to tell them about sales and
special offers.

Infrequent customers If you haven’t heard from customers in a while, you
can offer a discount or other incentive for their repeat business. Or you can
contact them to find out how you can encourage their return.
location If you know where they live, you can offer customers in a specific
locale products or services that make sense for their climate or location.

Customer gender If you know customers’ gender, you can provide information
about products or services that are relevant only to women or men.
age If you know the ages of customers, you can provide products or services that
are targeted at their stage in life (such as retirement-planning strategies for
those in their twenties and for those in their fifties).
Purchase history If you know the purchase histories of customers who have responded to a mailing and
your goal is to expand your customer base, you can purchase a mailing list of
people who have bought the same products and send a similar mailing to them.

Response preference By using recipients’ responses, you can target each
customer with a different follow-up that suits the customer’s response. Some
customers may respond by phone, others with a visit, and others by e-mail. Each
of these suggests that you match your customers’ preferences with a different
follow-up approach.

How well are you doing?
While you are collecting information about your customers, you also want to track how well your marketing
efforts are working. You need to decide which of the many variables you want to
test and how you can measure their impact. For example, if you use a postcard
mailer, you may want to try more than one design or offer and track the success
rate for each. Other information that may be valuable to track includes:

Rate of response Of all the customers whom you contacted, how many
Incentive response If you provided a few different offers to
encourage customers to respond, you can track which incentives prompt the
greatest response rate.
Method of contact If you provide customers with different ways to respond — for example, by postcard, phone call, e-mail message, personal visit, catalog, or Web site — you can track the responses that
you receive for each. If you use different methods to contact your customers,
you can track them to see which was most successful in eliciting a response.

Isolate the variables
Be sure that you isolate the variables, or later analysis may be difficult. For example, if you use two
different postcard designs and each design promotes a different offer, it may be
difficult to track whether one postcard receives a higher response rate because
of the design or because of the offer.

Set up the tracking mechanism

Determine how to best collect the information that you will need to
evaluate the campaign’s effectiveness. If your business has multiple phone lines
and you use different designs or offers for a postcard mailer, you might provide
a different phone number, URL, or offer code to measure the response to each

If you offer gift certificates, you probably want to add unique tracking
numbers. If you offer coupons and want to learn who redeems them and for what,
you need to add a distinct coupon code to each coupon.

When you add a code to a gift certificate, you can associate an item from
the inventory with the gift certificate and track that item. If you offer
coupons, adding a unique code to each coupon can prevent customers from sharing
copies of coupons. Adding unique codes to event invitations is seldom useful.
You need to track only the customers’ names.

Track the responses to your campaign

You have sent out your campaign. Now it is time to track the responses.
Document your results to see which variables work and which you need to improve
in the next stage of the campaign or in subsequent campaigns.

There are two basic methods for tracking a marketing campaign. Whether
you receive customer responses online, through the mail, over the phone, or
face-to-face, you can track responses in one of these two ways:

On a printed list that you keep near your telephone, e-mail inbox, or
front counter where you interact with customers. If you provide a different
phone number with each of several postcard designs, you can print a unique
recipient list for each phone number so that you have the correct recipient list
ready when you answer each phone line.

Evaluate the campaign
Analyze the results based on the campaign goals. For example, did you want an increase in new customers or more business from existing customers? If customers responded to one offer over
others, what was it about the offer in combination with the customers’ personal
characteristics that succeeded?

If you used more than one design or offer in a postcard mailer, did
recipients respond most favorably to one design or offer over the
Apply what you learn from tracking to improve your marketing
campaigns now and in the future. This step is the culmination of your tracking
efforts to improve the return on your investment.

Prepare for the next marketing campaign

Tracking the response to a marketing campaign helps you to improve the next campaign. You
want to keep what worked and change what didn’t. Your recipient list is one of
the resources to keep, refine, and reuse.

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