How to Measure Direct Mail and Print Advertising

Direct mail marketing and print advertising can be powerful additions to a comprehensive marketing strategy. Don’t believe it? According to Smallbizgenius, people who receive a piece of direct mail spend 28% more than those who don’t.

At St. Gregory, we’ve been helping businesses launch direct mail advertising campaigns and print advertising endeavors for over 30 years. One area where we’ve seen many businesses flounder is with measuring the return on investment of these campaigns. And if you aren’t effectively measuring, you aren’t getting across the finish line!

Below we’ll share two ways we’ve successfully helped businesses measure the impact of their direct mail and print advertising campaigns as well as pro tips to help you avoid common pitfalls.

Call Tracking with Direct Mail Marketing and Print Advertising

Is your business the type that lends itself to phone calls, such as customers calling to make an appointment or reservation? If so, call tracking is an excellent way to measure the effectiveness of your direct mail piece, print advertising campaign or magazine ad.

The concept of call tracking is simple enough; you use a separate, dedicated phone number in the ad and calls to that number are counted. These calls may even be recorded so that information can be gathered about the callers themselves, such as gender and FAQs, and “conversions” can be counted. (Conversions might be the number of callers that actually make an appointment or reservation after speaking with your business.)

Pro tip: Call tracking is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, but it isn’t just a marketing tool. Listening to calls is also a fantastic way to collect customer feedback and monitor employee-customer interactions with the aim of improving your business’ overall customer experience. For more information on improving the customer experience (and why it matters) read Customer Experience: Getting the Customer is Only the First Step.

In theory, call tracking sounds great, but how do you implement it? You could do it manually. Get a separate phone number, have your employees count the number of calls and take notes about the outcome of each call. But let’s be real—that sounds like a huge hassle, right?

Luckily, there are much more automated call tracking solutions available. For example, one that we’ve used here at St. Gregory is CallRail.

CallRail allows you to get multiple phone numbers, so if you were doing a direct mail advertising campaign and a magazine ad you could have two separate tracking numbers. The service also records calls so you can listen to them later and integrates with Google Analytics so that you can compare call data with other conversions and compare your various traffic sources.

Pro tip: Call tracking isn’t just for mail and print advertising. You can use call tracking phone numbers in any form of advertising from social media campaigns to television commercials. In fact, CallRail integrates with Facebook and other platforms to make the process as painless as possible.

For more information on successfully implementing call tracking in any of your marketing and media campaigns, call St. Gregory today.

Landing Pages and UTMs with Direct Mail Marketing and Print Advertising

If you plan on using your direct mail or print advertising campaign to drive website traffic, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about the URL that will be in the ad. There are two solid options to consider.

Append UTM parameters to an existing page.

The easiest tracking option is to simply add UTM parameters to an existing URL.

UTM parameters, also known as URL parameters, campaign parameters, and campaign tracking parameters, are pieces of code you add to the end of a URL. This code passes information back to Google Analytics so that you can better categorize and measure the results of your campaigns.

Pro tip: If you’re unfamiliar with UTM parameters and how powerful they can be for most marketing campaigns, dive in with Intro to UTM Parameters.

Not only are UTM parameters free to use, they’re also fast and easy to deploy.

The only issue with UTMs is that they can make a URL very long. A long URL is unsightly, may be difficult to fit on a direct mail or print advertising piece, and may be asking too much of your perspective customers.

In other words, no one wants to try to type in a URL that is 50 plus characters long. And even if your customers are willing to do so, the longer the URL is the more likely it is they will make a typo and end up on a 404 “page not found” error page, which is beyond frustrating!

The solution is to drop your URL, complete with UTMs, into a link shortener tool, such as Bitly, TinyURL, or Rebrandly. A link shortener simply takes a long URL and cuts it down. It does not strip off your UTM parameters or interfere with tracking.

Use a dedicated landing page.

What if you have a special offer or price you want to make available only to the people that receive your direct mail piece? Or for some reason can’t (or don’t want to) use UTMs? For example, if you’re using a web tracking service other than Google Analytics, UTMs might not be an option. In that case, you could create a separate landing page on your website specifically for your direct mail marketing or print advertising campaign.

Whether you are creating a brand new page with unique copy or simply duplicating an existing page in order to measure direct mail or print campaign traffic, there are a few things you’ll want to do:

  • Make the page is an “orphan” page. When a page is an orphan, that means that no other page on the site links to it. You do not want anyone to be able to get to the page unless they have the URL, which will only be in your direct mail or print advertising piece.
  • Tell Google (and other search engines) not to index the page. Again, you want to ensure that no-one can get to the page unless they have the URL; the purpose of this is to try to keep your data as pure as possible. By telling Google not to index the page, you’re preventing your direct mail or print ad landing page from showing up in organic search results.
  • Test your data tracking service, whether this is Google Analytics or some other application. Make sure you are able to collect visitor data.
  • Ensure the page has a URL that is easy to type. Keep the URL as foolproof as possible.

Pro tip: If you are duplicating an existing page, avoid duplicate content issues on your site by adding a canonical tag to the original page. Read more about canonicalization here.

By using the methods in this post, you’ll be able to get a much better understanding of just how effective your direct mail and print ad campaigns are.

At St. Gregory, we have talented team members that can help you design a new webpage, write effective sales copy, and implement a solid UTM strategy to get the most accurate tracking possible for your direct mail or print advertising campaign all while driving sales or leads. If you’re ready to see how well your campaigns, direct mail or otherwise, are really performing, let’s talk!