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How to track the effectiveness of offline advertising

how to track effectiveness of online ads

Everyone realizes that businesses should not mindlessly follow others. But when the first capital comes, the hands are itching to advertise on passers-by, billboards, TV, radio, leaflets… After all, “everyone does it.” But offline advertising is not cheap. Therefore, it is essential to understand whether the game is worth it and what the advertising channels work.

Google Analytics and similar services exist to determine the effectiveness of online advertising. Offline advertising is more complicated. A person receives a flyer, goes to the website or calls, or even goes straight to the store. Here you won’t see a clear connection: advertising — click through — add to cart. But there are still ways to determine what kind of advertising brought the client.

Method #1: “How did you hear about us?”

The sales rep asks the customer a question, and the answer is entered into a special table or CRM. The data on the effectiveness of each type of advertising is also summarized there.


  1. It’s free.
  2. You don’t need any additional tools to analyze it.


  1. This question will irritate about 20% of customers. Another half will simply not remember where they first came across your advertisement. 
  2. The customer may reply, “I found out about you in the magazine”. And if you advertised in several magazines, as do real estate agents, advertising different objects? In short, there is a high probability of error.
  3. Sales reps may forget that it is necessary to ask such a question, or will ask once in a while. After all, who wants to feel like a parrot?

Method #2: Bring a flyer and get a discount

A customer presents some printed advertising medium in exchange for a discount. Nowadays, leaflets are most often used for this purpose. But not so long ago there were newspapers from which coupons could be cut out and then presented at the checkout. This scheme is still popular in some countries.


  1. Relatively low costs.
  2. No additional tools are needed.


  1. So you can track the effectiveness of only one channel of advertising.
  2. People don’t really like those who annoyingly hand out flyers. 
  3. You have to manually count and enter data into tables or CRM. It’s a rather mucky process that takes up a lot of work time. So, an employee of the store from the TV series “Bones” even killed a regular customer who liked discounts on coupons too much 🙂

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Method #3: Promo codes

A time-tested classic. The essence is that the buyer recognizes a code, which acts as an identifier when contacting the company. The client receives a discount by voicing it. Conditionally, this method can be divided into several.

  1. Promo codes, consisting of numbers and letters, for placement on printing.
  2. QR codes consist of small rectangles, which are arranged in a certain “pattern” and can be read with the help of a phone.

There are special services that allow you to get a promo code, then place it on products and verify it with the source of the advertisement. As an example, let’s take IfTheyCall.

  1. A special script generates a promo code on the site.
  2. The customer places it on the product.
  3. Answering the customer’s call, the manager asks for the code. 
  4. It is entered in the personal cabinet on the IfTheyCall website.
  5. It becomes clear which source led to the call.

The sales rep can enter the information into a CRM or other special program. As a result, it will be possible to track which advertising led to a particular order, calculate the average check, etc. Similarly, if the client did not call, but immediately came to the store.

Another variation of this method is “Say the code word”. The identifier instead of a promo code here is a word combination. The coveted phrase is placed on the advertisement, and the buyer must voice it and win a small prize or get a discount. 

This method is quite suitable for fans of games, but many buyers may seem strange. Especially when it comes to expensive goods and services. Try to imagine an SUV buyer who has to remember the password “pink elephant” to win a pen 🙂


  1. You get more accurate data from which advertisement the customer came from.


  1. You need to motivate the customer to memorize a code or phrase. 
  2. You can’t do without the manual labor of the operator, who has to enter data into the appropriate form.
  3. A potential customer may not have time to memorize the code while watching or listening to an advertisement on TV or radio.

Method #4: Call Tracking

DIY call tracking

To do this, you need to purchase several SIM cards and give different numbers in different ads. Managers will have to record user numbers, match them to the advertising source, and then manually generate reports.


  1. You don’t need any additional tools.


  1. The need for manual labor and the resulting likelihood of data errors.
  2. Many things will be left out of the picture. For example, whether the ads bring targeted calls, i.e., made with the purpose of buying. Or the designer has developed such a billboard that people constantly want to buy a house from you, but you sell only tiles and parquet. It looks like you’re getting calls, but does that kind of advertising work?
  3. You have no control over the incoming calls. So the sales rep can send customers to competitors or just “take them away”. And you won’t even know about it.

Professional call tracking

It is a service that is provided by special platforms. There are several types of call tracking, you can read about them in this article. But for offline advertising, static call tracking is the best.

Static (classic) call tracking is a method in which each advertising source is assigned a separate phone number. The user can rent these numbers from the platform or connect their own. After that, one number is placed on a billboard, another on YouTube, a third on TV, etc. 

The client calls the number he sees in the advertisement. The system collects data on which one specifically. Further data can be transferred to other services and web analytics systems for in-depth analysis. So the user of call tracking will see, in Google Analytics, how many calls specifically brought offline ads. 

In addition, call tracking may include virtual PBX. This allows you to handle calls more efficiently and control your sales team. Schematically, the work of static call tracking looks like this:

Thus, the user of call tracking can evaluate the effectiveness of each advertising channel in terms of calls as accurately as possible. If you integrate call tracking and CRM, the call data will be automatically transferred there, which opens up many opportunities.

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  1. Everything is automated, the information is as accurate and error-free as possible. 
  2. Control of the sales department and reduction of missed calls. The system collects data on how long the call lasted, how quickly the manager picked up the phone, etc. In addition, you can listen to a recording of the conversation. 
  3. You can determine the best time for TV and radio advertising.

Let us dwell on the latter in more detail. Call analytics platforms contain information about how many calls are received on what day and time of day. This allows you to determine the load on the sales department. Below is an example of such a report:

The peculiarity of advertising on television and radio is that a potential customer most often calls as soon as he sees/hears it. Let’s consider how this data can be used to distribute the load on the sales department.

  1. Understand when to expect a lot of calls and work out a schedule so that all operators are in place at that time. Or assign on-call staff if calls come in outside business hours. 
  2. Perhaps there are working hours when few calls come in. Then it is better to more actively launch promotional activities in this period. This way you will get more calls. Unless, of course, your target audience is watching TV or listening to the radio at that time.


  1. You get the expense of an analytical tool.

Whatever you choose, don’t jump to conclusions if an advertisement seems ineffective. Here is an example from our client’s experience. The company advertised on billboards right outside its stores. According to analytics, it seemed that it did not bring calls and sales. 

But the company did not give up this advertising. The marketer rightly reasoned that seeing such a billboard, visitors immediately come to shop. Why should he call or go to the site, if the store is right next door? Therefore, compare all the factors, make the right conclusions, and be successful.

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