Through the years, I’ve always asked any new prospect how they heard about my company. Once they answer, I make a mental note of it. So, I’ve got a very rough, general idea of where my customers come from.
I was chatting with a client of mine recently, though, and he takes a much more scientific approach to tracking marketing effectiveness. He owns a lawn fertilization company, and uses software that is specialized for his industry. One of the features of that software, is that it tracks how all new customers found out about his company. He can then pull reports to track the effectiveness of each marketing campaign by number of customers, gross revenue, etc.
Since his software is specifically targeted to the lawn care industry, it’s obviously not a good fit for a web design / development business. However, I’d like to take a similarly scientific approach to tracking my marketing effectiveness. I’d love to be able to see how many customers came as a result of each campaign, what the average revenue per customer per campaign is, etc.
I’ve looked all over the Internet for software that can handle this. However, everything I’m finding either does way too little or way too much. I’ve also considered tracking this information in an Excel spreadsheet, but this seems like a double-data-entry-nightmare! I’m striking out at finding a good solution.
So, to my questions … Do any of you track where your customers are coming from? If so, how are you tracking it? Do you have reporting abilities like I’ve described? Are there any programs that will do this that you’d recommend?
As you start systematically tracking this, you’ll probably be surprised that the pure facts and your memory aren’t all that coherent.
As for software it really depends on your business, customer base and type of projects/sales. The real key here is the habit of tracking it and then actually using the data. It’ll do you no good if it only sit in a fancy report somewhere. So have a plan for what you’ll do with the data.
Your business processes are king, the software supporting them, comes second. Keep it simple, accessible and maintainable, without too many bells and whistles.
If you run a small consultancy you’ll probably get far by adding the information in your customer contact register, in a comment field for the customer record. Then every few months you can manually go through it and create a mini report in Excel. And again: The habit of actually doing it is much more important than the software. Only upgrade to a “state of the art” system, if you really need it.
I use MS Access to do this job for me. I even maintain the sales pipeline on the same database. The only qualm I have with it is that it can only be maintained locally on my desktop. I cannot take it online to share it with my colleagues unless I buy their expensive MS Access Online license.
Thanks for all the feedback so far. Please keep it coming!
Pacifer: I agree that I’d have to commit to the process, and actually utilize the data for it to be useful. That won’t be a problem. I’m thinking that I’d like to have something a little more sophisticated than what you’re suggesting though. I receive tons of phone calls and emails with web design inquiries. Some of them are well qualified, and some of them aren’t qualified at all. It would be great if I could begin to piece together some correlation between where the well qualified contacts are coming from and where the poorly qualified contacts are coming from. That would be a great indicator of where my marketing dollars are best spent. Basically, I’d really like to identify which marketing efforts are generating the best leads so I can spend more money (and time) on them, and less on the others.
ArticleWritingSE: I’ve considered using Excel to do something similar to what you’re probably doing in Access. However, it seems like it would require a lot of data entry that would be very single use. I guess I’m hoping to find a CRM type software that would help me do more than just track marketing effectiveness. (Sorry … I know I didn’t specify that in the original post.) You also mentioned being limited to your PC for updating the information, which also seems like a major drawback to me. I wonder if there are any good CRM programs that would do what I’m needing, but would also work via iPad or Smartphone.
ProudIrish: Yes … I track the effectiveness of my website(s) with numerous analytics tracking packages. However, I’m not really talking about tracking web traffic here. I’m talking about tracking phone call and email contacts. My website is just one of the many ways that I generate new customers. I also need to be able to track the effectiveness of my social media, in-person networking, organization memberships, magazine ads, direct mail, client referrals, etc.
Finally, you’re probably pretty close with the 100 new clients per year number. However, we speak with WAY more than 100 prospects per year. Many of them are weeded out in just a couple minutes over the telephone. I’d really like to be able to track where all of those contacts come from. That way I can potentially identify if a particular marketing avenue is just delivering a bunch of time wasters.
Thanks again for the feedback so far. I’d love some more!
You can do that with tools like salesforce, Avidian Prophet, etc. It’s very common for small service industries to track this kind of thing. I agree, though, that if you have a small number clients you’ll spend the least time just by going manual.