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9 Ways to Easily Track Advertising and PR

    Tracking advertising and measuring the effectiveness of publicity is tough, as you have correctly guessed from the difficulty you are having.  If you were wondering if others are having the same problem, they are.  

1. The simplest way to track advertising is to ask every person who calls, “And how did you hear of our company?” in the BEGINNING of each conversation. Write down the answer on a slip of paper and place it in a select drawer by the phone. 

At the end of the month you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s working.  In 3 months you’ll have an in-depth understanding of what’s working and where.  At six months you’ll discover this is an excellent way to know exactly which ads work, and to what extent. 

2. When you send out press releases, track advertising by placing a tracking code in the address.  This tracking mechanism is similar to the one you use in your ads. You do use a tracking number in all your ads, don’t you?   

A simple tracking device such as a department number may be placed in the address line of an ad or a press release. For example: PO BOX 100, Dept. HB.  This HB stands for House Beautiful.  HB1 may stand for House Beautiful, January issue.  If your product is marketed to several industries, HHB1 may stand for the Home market, House Beautiful, January.

3. Get a new phone line. To test a particular phone book or an Internet website for effectiveness, make sure the number appears only in that phone book or your designated website. Buy the cheapest line, it will only be used for receiving calls.  

When the phone rings, you’ll know where it came from.  Just make sure to ask – right up in the very front of the conversation – which phone book and what listing, or which site the caller is looking at.  As with all tracking, write down where all the inquiries came from and place the slip of paper in the drawer you selected earlier.  

5. This technique also works for tracking advertising in all the special markets you are entering.  Assign a new phone number and having it show only to that particular industry. 

6. Code ads: When you request a response by telephone, code each publication or web page with an operator number. “Ask for operator # such and such.”  While all calls may wind up on your desk, you’ll know their point of origin. 

 7.  When other tracking methods aren’t attractive, or you’re releasing information to a few specific magazines or industries, place a person’s name – used as a tracking code – in each ad or press release.  When callers ask for that name, you’ll know where they saw the ad or press release, and which industry they’re calling from. For example: all calls for Jeffrey Warren came from Popular Science, all calls for Mr. Dobkin came from Popular Mechanics.

8. Tracking direct mail is much easier.  Since you control the response vehicle it’s easy to place a “Priority Code” on all catalogs, order forms and post cards.  Here, the tracking number can explicitly tell you the mailing list, the prices, the creative package, the offer, the mailing date and so forth.  Larger mailers test everything and live by the numbers – measuring every element of each mailing.  

9. Tracking advertising, direct mail, and newsprint is easy if your ad contains a coupon… or better yet my favorite: a gift certificate.  All the ad information you need can be placed in the coupon code. 

Jeffrey Dobkin is a copywriter and a pretty funny yet highly motivational speaker on sales and direct marketing.  His advertising and marketing agency specializes in creating exceptionally responsive marketing plans, letters, ads and direct mail. Call 610-642-1000, this number rings on his desk. Visit for more articles.