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What's the Best Way to Track a Campaign's ROI?

Advertising is a business expense, and the ROI of your advertising really matters. However, it can be tough to track the ROI of a campaign.

You can look at your revenue, but it is hard to separate the impact of your campaign from the impact of ordinary sales. For a multi-channel campaign it is even tougher to tease out which channels are having the best results and work out if any need to be cut. Without this, there is no way to know whether your campaign is working.

Many businesses rely on Google Analytics and similar tools to try and track their campaign's ROI. These tools, however, do a poor job of measuring many campaigns. They don't do well at handling digital campaigns, and if your campaign integrates digital and traditional media, it becomes impossible to get meaningful data from these tools.

Furthermore, there's no one size fits all way to track ROI, as it depends on your goals. If, for example, you are campaigning on a loss leader, then the direct ROI may be poor or even negative, but the ultimate sell-through is where you need to be looking.

Google Analytics is a useful tool, but it does not serve all purposes.

What's Wrong with Google Analytics?

Google Analytics collects data automatically and provides you with reports. The code can track page requests, purchase transactions (including individual items), and user segments. Unfortunately, this data is limited and not always useful. 

For example, Google Analytics doesn't take into account traffic that comes from apps, which can be absolutely key to an integrated campaign. This makes the audience targeting data largely useless. Where Google Analytics is useful is if you are only using traditional media. You can analyze traffic spikes and see if an advertisement is getting people to visit your site by analyzing the boost in both direct and branded organic traffic. However, it's still not the most useful way of doing things

The best way to track your actual ROI is more complicated, but thankfully not hard to set up with experienced professionals’ help.

How to Show ROI with Integrated Campaigns

So, what should you be doing instead? 

If you are doing traditional media, such as a radio ad, you need a measurable element such as a text keyword to determine ROI.

An example of a text keyword is: Text IHEARDYOU to 37592. Customers will only do it if they have a good reason to do so, as it's an actual effort for them. The keyword needs to lead to some kind of tangible benefit. Generally, this is a special offer, more information, or a contest entry. You can then simply look at the number of people who texted to see how successful your ad was. Please note that the effectiveness of this text key word activation is reliant upon a high frequency campaign.  Don’t expect high participation if you’re not investing enough in your traditional commercial schedule.

For educational or awareness goals, this is all the ROI you need. You can look at which of your ads gained the most texts and know which should be cut or tweaked.

If you have another goal, then you will need to track conversions. This means tracking who claims the offer and who uses it, whether at your brick-and-mortar store or on your website. This generally means you are offering a discount code. For e-commerce you can actually skip the text phase and just provide a word during the ad that is then directly usable as a discount code.

Have the radio ad offer use different wording from any digital offer, as this will help tell them apart when claimed at your store. You can also use different text keywords to support live A/B testing, pitting two ads against each other to establish which one is having more success.

The text keyword and discount code are a superior means of tracking specific campaign ROI. They work better than other methods, such as asking customers to tell you where they found out about you especially if there is a financial benefit for the consumer.

Measuring your ROI with methods such as text keywords is vital to assessing your campaign’s success and working out the best ways to move forward. Relying merely on Google Analytics is less than helpful; you need to measure things more accurately to achieve success.

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Written by Federated Media