Even though there is much hype about how much longer print magazines, newspapers, and trade journals will continue to exist in our ever-growing digital environment, ad marketers (and the ancillary Creative Directors, Brand Managers, Graphic Designers, etc.) still have a lot of opportunity to validate the importance of a print ad spend in a social media world.
Case Study Example: Your company is XYZ, Inc. and you are planning for a Q1 new product launch. How about incorporating a specific discount code into the ad that you create and place within each publication? Like: “For a 10% special reader discount, please visit www.xyz.com/fastcompany” or “… www.xyz.com/wired” or “… www.xyz.com/wallstreetjournal”
When you utilize this strategy, you can immediately start tracking the ROI on the overall campaign (both click-throughs and sales). You can also measure the overall reach of the ad (e.g. If someone passes long the discount code/url to a friend, you don’t care that the 2nd person didn’t directly see the add only that the message got to them and they took action). In addition, you can track how each specific publications performs based on their unique urls and codes.
Then, the next month, you can implement A/B split testing on your print ads. Running ads in the same publications, now you need to alter just 1 thing about the ad– different verbiage, a different offer/discount– change 1 thing about the visual creative, etc. Now, see what your ROI does. Again, tracking the same campaigns. The next month, tweak one more unique thing; you are constantly looking for improvements. Eventually, you may end up with completely different looking/saying/feeling ads for each publication, but each will be targeted at the readers of those publications. The point is engaged customers and sales. This comprehensive strategy integrates your print ads into your online marketing where you have a much easier time validating effectiveness.
Jay Baer of Convince & Convert highlights Trident gum and their integration of print and social media saying, “On December 18, 2009, Trident ran this full-page ad in USA Today. The print ad asks readers to visit the brand on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tridentlayers. I’m not sure that particular tactic was successful, as the account has just 226 followers (a far cry from USA Today’s 1+ million readership). The ad also includes a QR (Quick Response) code in the bottom left (which I snapped with my nifty Microsoft tag reader). Doing so also takes you to their Twitter account. Handy if you’re reading the newspaper without Internet access nearby, and it also provides another tracking mechanism for the brand.”
When XYZ, Inc. is able to effectively track print ad ROI, it gives them negotiating power in securing ad space within publications. Conversely, if print publications would require reporting of their advertisers numbers, it could support justification for publications to raise their rates.
What Wendistry and VSEllis recommend that XYZ, Inc. measures:
1. Revenue and Business Development: (benchmark before and after the print ad/ online marketing initiatives begin)
Speed/length of sales cycle
Number or % of repeat customers
% of customer retention
Number of customer referrals (new business), net number of new leads
Transaction value per customer
Customer lifetime value
Conversions from blog/email subscribers to leads or customers
Website conversions for leads or sales
Organic search rankings > converted leads
% of Converted leads from online vs. offline sources
2. Potential Cost Savings:
Shorter customer service/issue resolution time
% of issues resolved via online vs. offline/live channels
Number of support calls before/after outreach effort
Recruiting costs through online presence (vs. recruiters)
% of quarterly or annual customer/account turnover
Overhead costs for communication (measure costs of online outreach vs. analog as compared to resolution ratios)
Number/ ratio of viable community-driven product ideas
Length of concept-to-development cycle (Use of online community as testing/focus/idea development)
3. Value, Awareness, and Influence:
Sentiment of posts online – advocates vs. detractors
Share of conversation/voice
Number and frequency of mentions in media (online or print)
Net Promoter Score (likelihood of recommendation)
Subscribers to blog/email/newsletter
Comments/engagement on posted material, downloads of ebooks, etc. (interaction with content)
Inbound links to site/blog (total as well as on-topic/relevant)
Number of Tags, votes, social bookmarks
Fans/followers/group members for social profiles (implication of a brand following)
So, here’s a final note about Cause and Influence…
For all the metrics you track, you have to realize that the path from initial contact to desired result is a winding one when it comes to marketing. Direct marketing efforts like “get postcard, enter code, buy said product” are more obviously causal and can outline a clear sales path. But in a social and online world where there are literally hundreds of touch-points in effect at any given point, metrics themselves don’t indicate success or failure, just continuous opportunities for improvement.