Maximize Your Print Marketing Campaign By Tracking Results

In the previous article, “How To Plan A Print Marketing Campaign“, we discussed successful approaches to marketing via direct mail, flyers, newsletters, and other print media. Now it’s time to address the bottom line: results.

Know What To Measure

Before judging the success of an advertising or direct-mail campaign, it’s important to review your initial goals:

Were you trying to build awareness? If so, market research is the only accurate way to judge results. (For this, you’ll need to interview prospective customers who received your material or engage a professional research service.)

Were you looking for inquiries or sales? In this case, you can easily calculate and track the results with inexpensive desktop PC software.

Establish Benchmarks

Since market research into brand awareness is beyond the scope of this article, let’s assume that your print marketing is intended to generate inquiries or sales. You’ll want to track the results of your marketing from the beginning—not just to see how your initial campaign did, but also to establish a baseline for measuring the success of future campaigns.

Such benchmarking is important because there’s no such thing as a “standard response rate” you can measure against. For some products, services, or audiences, a one-percent response rate is excellent; for others, it’s abysmal. Using your initial campaign as a baseline will help you measure the success of future efforts and determine which marketing themes, offers, print media, and mailing lists work best.

For inquiries, benchmarks might include:

  • Response rate, expressed as a percentage (number of inquires divided by the number of pieces distributed or mailed).
  • Cost per inquiry (total cost divided by the number of inquiries).
  • Quality of inquiries (percentages of leads in categories such as “send a sales rep,” “send literature,” “purchasing now,” “within three months,” “within six months”).
  • Results of follow-up (from phone calls or literature mailings).
  • For sales, try these benchmarks:
  • Response rate (see above).
  • Net sales per piece (sales divided by the number of pieces distributed or mailed).
  • Return on investment (sales divided by cost).

Create A Worksheet

Once you’ve determined your benchmarks, enter them in a spreadsheet application. By using formulas based on your own tracking criteria, you can measure each campaign’s results against the benchmarks.

The results also can be displayed graphically. Excel has a “ChartWizard” with dozens of two- and three-dimensional chart styles, so you can see trends at a glance and quickly share results with colleagues.

Build Relationships With Contacts

Receiving an inquiry or making a sale is merely the first step in building a long-term relationship with a prospect or customer. Once you’ve got a lead, don’t let go! Even a prospect who says, “Thanks, I’m just collecting literature” is more likely to buy your goods or services than a reader who never responded to your promotion.

A database like program is ideal for storing, sorting, and extracting information on current and potential buyers. In addition to standard information such as names, addresses, and phone numbers, a sales database might have checkboxes to help your sales staff qualify and follow up leads.

This way, a sales rep could generate a list of all prospects who:

  • Responded to a July mailing.
  • Identified themselves as purchasing agents.
  • Asked for literature on the Model W-2000 Widget.
  • Said they’d make a purchase decision in 3 to 6 months.

Follow Up With Irresistible Offers

Once you’ve added contacts to your database, make it impossible for them to say “no.” Follow up with mailings or telephone calls that offer:

Premiums for sales calls. Select your most promising leads and tempt them with a valuable gift that your sales representative will deliver in person.

A “new customer” discount. If you’re marketing a product or service that lends itself to repeat sales, a discount for new users is a powerful—and cost-effective—marketing tool.

Special promotions for existing customers. Keep first-time buyers coming back with clearance sales, seasonal promotions, birthday discounts, and other offers.

Review And Refine Your Efforts

Don’t neglect the prospects who didn’t call your 800 number or send reply cards. Repetition, or “frequency,” is a vital part of any advertising or direct-mail campaign. If you aren’t happy with the results of your initial efforts, try:

Stronger messages and offers. Avoid glittering generalities about quality and service. Promise something that the buyer wants–e.g., a unique product benefit, a low introductory price for a commodity product, or a tempting gift.

Multiple mailings. Tell the same story in several ways or use each mailing to sell a different aspect of your product or service. Maintain a consistent graphical “look and feel” to build recognition. Above all, be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it became the heart of the civilized world. In print marketing, as in empire building, patience and persistence pay off.