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by Elizabeth Crawford Elizabeth Crawford on November 19, 2015

3 Feel-Good Marketing Tactics That Can’t Be Measured

These tactics might feel productive, but how do you prove ROI?

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The tangibility of sending postcards, the thrill of hearing your ad on the radio, the satisfaction of seeing your business’s logo in print—these are all, admittedly, fun to do.

But all of the methods in this article have the same challenge: they’re not truly measurable. Sure, you might have an idea of how many people you were able to reach with your commercial or ad, but it’s a bit harder to know how many of those people actually took action and became a lead or a customer.

Before I get into this, let me clear something up right away. When I talk about marketing tactics, I’m talking about activities with a goal of generating leads. For this article, that’s all we’re trying to do. I’m not talking about “brand awareness” or “brand visibility.” I’m talking lead generation, period.

Below are 3 marketing and advertising tactics that, though they might feel good, can’t be satisfactorily measured for return on investment. You may want to think twice before you allocate money and resources to any of these.

1. TV Commercials 

It feels great to see your company, your staff, or yourself on TV. Making the decision to invest in a television commercial is a big deal—it costs thousands of dollars and takes time to produce. But there’s no denying that seeing your commercial hit the screen feels good.

The part that doesn’t feel so good is having no idea how many customers you’re reaching with your commercial. The network on which you’re airing your commercial may be able to tell you that they reach X number of viewers over a given time period and that your ad will run X times per hour.

But can you track how many of your customers—people who actually bought something from you—did so because they saw your commercial?  Do you have the bandwidth to ask every person who walks through the door or calls on the phone how they heard about you?

Probably not.

That’s why it’s difficult to measure the ROI on your TV commercial. It’s fun to watch your commercial air, but how do you measure the payback for your business?

2. Newspaper and Trade Publication Ads

If you’ve ever placed or thought about placing an ad in a newspaper or trade publication, you’ve probably seen a Media Guide or Advertising Guidelines. These sheets usually talk about the publication’s average circulation and pricing options based on the size and placement of the ad.

Designing an ad with the perfect images and messaging and then seeing it in print can make you feel accomplished. But publications pose the same challenges as commercials; you may know the circulation size, but you’ll never know whether or not key decision-makers will ever lay eyes on your ad. If they do decide to visit your business because of an ad they saw, will you ever know?

The ads may be a bit more measurable if they come in the form of a specific offer or coupon that people need to redeem—then you can count how many were used and get a better idea of how well your campaign worked. However, you won’t get a true percentage value since you don’t have a way of knowing for sure how many people your ad reached.

3. Direct Mail Blasts

These days, a piece of direct mail needs to go through a lot in order to be seen by the right person. First it needs to reach the right address—assuming, of course, that the intended recipient still lives or works there. Then it needs to avoid the recycling bin or the garbage can to end up in front of someone, who will then decide whether or not to open it.

Although you may be able to track how many pieces of direct mail you sent out (and that number may look great), it’s harder to determine how many of those were actually delivered to the hands of the right recipient.

With, for example, email marketing, you can track the number of received, opened, and clicked messages. But with direct mail, after considering the costs of design, printing, list management and postage, how do you determine the exact return on your investment? 

When marketing tactics can’t be measured for how they impact the bottom line, it’s harder to justify their use. The other flaw with the tactics above is that A/B testing, or trying different versions of something to see which is more effective, is harder to accomplish. How do you know whether your ad or commercial caused people to take the action you wanted? And if they didn’t take that action, how do you know exactly what you should change?

So the next time you think about using any of the marketing tactics above, think carefully about how they might impact your customer acquisition costs.   

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Elizabeth Crawford

Written by Elizabeth Crawford

Elizabeth believes that great content is the driving force of any inbound marketing campaign. She wields tactics like search engine optimization, social media, and blogging to get you measurable results across the web.

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