Tracking a company’s marketing is a way for advertisers to measure the effectiveness of the ads they are running. The obvious ways of tracking advertising are simple things like putting coupons in print ads or clients mentioning a special they saw that caused them to come in.

“One common way to track marketing is by asking customers how they found you,” explains Yvette Jones, owner of designCraft Advertising, Madison, Wis. Jones, a NARI member, has spent the last 10 years working with remodeling clients to improve their advertising efforts. “In general, that can be one of the least reliable ways to find out how they found you because customers tend to mention the last ad or impression that caused them to come in.”

It can take three to four impressions before a client comes to see a remodeler. Because of that, there were probably earlier impressions that allowed that impact to build up and wasn’t necessarily just the last ad that brought them in. Studies have also shown that if given a choice, people will sometimes pick out media that was not used in a company’s advertising.

“The point is that it’s not a real reliable way to find out where people are seeing your ad,” says Jones. “In order to try to make it more reliable you can list particular publications, but still you’re relying on people’s memories.”

It’s important to differentiate between awareness advertising and call-to-action advertising. Awareness advertising is meant to build credibility and is not meant to generate immediate results that will appear in advertising tracking like call-to-action does. To track awareness advertising, a remodeler is going to need to use benchmark comparisons. For example, if a remodeler decides to spend advertising dollars in May, they’re going to want to compare their sales after the ads to the previous May or to the month before the ads.

Online tracking

One thing that has changed considerably in the last several years is that there are many more tools for tracking online advertising. The most obvious of these tools is Web site tracking that can find out which Web sites people are using to get to a remodeler’s Web site; which pages people are viewing on its Web site; how long they’re staying on those pages; and which pages they’re going to next. Web site tracking is a good way to tell if a company home page is less than effective, especially if people click on it and move away very quickly. That means that the search terms associated with the Web site may not be representative of what the Web site has to offer or that they were disappointed in the feel of it right away.

A company can also get statistical reports from the Web sites they’re advertising on that will tell them how many impressions (the number of times a Web site was presented) and a click-through rate (the number of times people actually clicked on an ad and followed through to the company Web site). Those are the same sorts of tools that, if a remodeler is using an e-newsletter service, will be able to track number of opens (the number of times people actually open a newsletter rather than just look at it in their inbox) and the number of click-throughs (the number of times they click on links within the newsletter to go to the Web site).

The power of tracking

The first advice in tracking marketing is to make sure to ask current clients specific questions of where they learned about a remodeler whether it was from an ad, visiting a booth at a NARI expo, etc. Secondly it’s important to make sure that Web site tracking statistics are used to improve the company Web site and message.

Remodelers should choose two or three media to do a good job getting their message out there rather than spread their advertising dollars very thinly across more media.

“If clients talk about the TV and print ads, but never the radio ad, the radio ad should probably be dropped,” says Jones. “That way a remodeler can focus those dollars toward a stronger presence in a smaller amount of media.”

For a company’s message it’s good to experiment with a focused one rather than a general one. For a client, designCraft built an ad around a particular product. Up until that point, advertising had been focused on a general message of different products that were offered. With the new ad focused on a specific product, people were coming in asking for it and mentioned the ad where the product appeared. That was an effective way to see people were much more receptive to that than a general message.

Mistakes that remodelers can run into for tracking their marketing can be using too small of a sample. It generally takes a pool of 25 to 30 people for a local advertiser to get any sense of how people are reacting to their advertising. A remodeler should also keep in mind that it is usually three to five impressions before someone has a call-to-action. The last thing in a client’s mind may not have been the only thing that was effective in getting them in there.

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