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If you are going to pay money to advertise in print, it is imperative that you do what you can to accurately measure and track the results. One component of this is taking out a unique phone number that you will only use for one particular ad. Even if you do not use a “do it for me” measuring service like Blue Corona Interactive, you can still go through your phone bill each month, review all the calls that you received from that number and cross check those names against your database of customers to see which closed and which did not. You can put those that did not into your marketing database for future follow up.
But, when you are running print ads that have an annual or longer (in theory) shelf-life (school directories, yellow page books, etc.), it’s important to ask the question: who owns the phone number you used to track the ad and what happens to it when you are no longer paying for the ad?
You can take numbers out on your own (through your phone company), through a marketing measurement / call tracking company like us and sometimes even from the same company selling you the advertising.
When considering placing a unique tracking number in any type of annual directory – whether you’re doing an ad in your kid’s school directory, a church program or the Yellow Pages (in theory) – it’s important to consider the question: who owns the tracking number?
Why is this important?
True story: two clients – one that placed unique numbers owned by them in Yellow Page ads from 2006 and 2007. These numbers still receive calls – from prospective new customers as well as existing customers. They don’t receive enough to make it worth continuing to advertise in the book, but you never want to miss a potential sales call if you can prevent it.
The second client also used tracking numbers which were given to them “free” by the Yellow Page sales rep – when they considered reducing their ad size. Now that 2007 is over, the Yellow Page sales rep tells them that the numbers will be disconnected unless they renew an ad. The client offered to pay for the numbers, but the Yellow Page sales rep is saying that there is nothing they can do – either renew the ad or run an ad in the 2008 book or the number will be disconnected.
Yellow Page sales reps would probably love to believe that the minute the new books come out, everyone throws away their old book and replaces it with the new one. This does not always happen and these days more books seem to be sitting in the driveway until they are picked up by a trash truck (or throw on the side of Triadephia Road).
Tracking is still better than no tracking so if you just cannot stomach the idea of paying for a tracking number – through a company like Blue Corona Interactive or from the phone company, take the free tracking number from the Yellow Pages. But keep in mind that the free number from the Yellow Pages is their number and they have an interest in keeping you advertising in their book. No ad – no free tracking number.
If you take out a number with the phone company, it’s your number. You can have it “pointed” wherever you’d like (depending on your local phone company – always ask them for any specific things you can and can’t do with your number). You could point it to your main number or even to one of our tracking numbers to take advantage of features not offered by your phone company.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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