How to Track Your Marketing

November 12, 2010

By Adams Hudson

No matter how well you plan, a part of your marketing success will always be based on trial by error. You can count on certain trends and techniques, but at any given time, any market or any customer base may not respond like Instead, consider it valuable information.

Marketing success means finding out what works and what doesn't. And that's done by "tracking." Another word for tracking is "testing," but essentially, you can't get any idea of how well any ad or promotion works unless you track it. When you do, you'll have an advantage that pays handsomely.

Without tracking, your ads and marketing investment return is a guess. And that's a joke. Would you put money in a bank that said, "Your return on this money will be, well, I don't exactly know because we don't keep up with that. Whatever you get, well, that's what you get." You'd take your money and run, never to return.

One distinction: on a Direct Response ad, you're expecting results, so it's easy enough to chart every incoming lead and attach it to that ad's performance. This isn't as immediately measurable on Retention marketing or Image ads, but you can start with your receptionist.

For any incoming lead, your receptionist simply asks a straightforward, friendly question such as, "And how did you hear about us?" or "Which ad brought us your call today?" The answer to this - amassed hundreds of times - will determine for you...

  • Your most profitable ads
  • Your most profitable media
  • The best areas of response
  • The richest combination of marketing methods
  • The value of customer or prospect lists

Your receptionist can keep up with this in a number of ways. I've seen very effective companies use a "tick mark" system of noting an ad's response that is then fed into a weekly results sheet for leads. I've also seen sophisticated contact management software that had a field for incoming leads per media type. Any method is better than no method. The purpose of tracking is to find what works and how well it's paying you back.

The general rule of thumb is that if an ad continues to run or a letter is continually mailed, then it is regarded as some success. But that is not always the case. For instance, if you've seen one of your customer's ads for umpteen years, you may be assuming he's getting great results. But I can't tell you how many times I've critiqued contractor ads that have been used for 5 or more years where I immediately ask, "And how has this been working for you?"

"Terrible," they reply. "But it's all I have so I keep using it." This is a distressing reason to keep using any ad or promotion, because it ignores valuable information made available by the ad's "lack of response."

As you track, you must apply. It is not enough to know something doesn't work. You must use that knowledge to strengthen other marketing efforts - and turn your knowledge into a powerful marketing advantage.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. Readers can get a copy of the free 16-page report, “Get More Leads in Less Time” to help you market more effectively.  Fax a polite request on your letterhead to 334-262-1115, or email  Call 1-800-489-9099 or visit to subscribe to his free contractor marketing newsletter.

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