Advertising: Tracking Effectiveness

One of the most important elements of an advertising campaign is the mechanism you establish for measuring its effectiveness—what you do to make sure you known how well the advertisement translates into sales.

Ad campaigns do not operate in a vacuum. Customers will hear about your product from other sources; they will read about it on your website, see it in the catalogues of online retailers, read comments from other customers on gaming forums, and thumb through it at their local gaming store. You need a mechanism for segregating your advertising effectiveness from the influence of these other sources of information.

Customers love promotions and special discounts. Even a marginal reduction in price can be a powerful incentive to induce customers to buy your product. This is also a great way to gauge the effectiveness of your ad campaign.

Establish a unique promotional code customers can use when purchasing your product from an online store. Only place this promotional code in your advertisements, and in no other place, so as not to dilute the value of the feedback you will get from related sales. This is probably the best method when using print advertisements, such as in magazines or direct mailings.

If you don’t have the ability to create promotional codes, create a separate product page in your online store dedicated to the promotion. Place the URL to this special page in your advertisement, but no other place. This way you’ll know that sales generated from that page are the direct result of your advertising campaign.

Special URLs are a must when using online ads. You need to know which purchases are the result of a customer clicking on that banner. If you are placing multiple banners on different websites, or on different sections of a given website, create a different target URL for each placement. This will tell you which placements are performing the best. You can always aggregate the sales from each later on, to give you a picture of the overall effectiveness of the campaign.

Direct mailings or magazine inserts are also useful for measuring an advertisement’s effectiveness. The number of returned cards will give you a direct read on your customer base. These methods also allow you to ask for a small amount of personal information from your customers, so don’t pass up the chance. At the least, you’ll be able to build a database of names and addresses of people interested in your products—prime targets for future offerings.

Another advantage of direct mailings and magazine inserts is that customers could use them as coupons at their local gaming retailer. I am not familiar with any recent attempts, within the gaming industry, to use coupons on the retail level. It is something to consider, however, and I would be very interested in hearing from publishers who have tried this approach.


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