How to Figure Out Return on Investment from Print Advertising (When You Don’t Sell Direct)

Over the past ten years we’ve had many, many (many) phone calls and emails about advertising our (other) business through magazines and various print media. It’s a tough call as a wholesaler because on the one hand it can be hard to directly gauge return on investment (ROI) as we can’t offer a simple enticing discount for readers.

On the other hand, it’s said that consumers need to see your brand a minimum of 11 times before they’ll trust and purchase, so it’s actually helpful to advertise in print, especially if the audience is closely targeted to your ideal end consumer.

So let’s say you get a call from a magazine and they have a super fantabulous distress rate that you just CAN’T pass up. They distribute to your ideal end user and will bundle it with some great social media and digital advertising exposure. You’re prepared to take the plunge but you really need to be able to gauge interest in some way to see if this is a valuable investment in the future.

What can you do as a wholesaler who doesn’t sell direct to consumers but wants to advertise to a consumer subscriber base?

Here are some things we’ve done to help improve the way we gauge ROI on a print advertisement.


1. Create a dedicated URL to send people to

Let’s say you have a particular opt-in or new product that you want to showcase. Duplicate that particular page on your website and create a unique URL for it. Use that unique URL in your print advertisement and watch the traffic. If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your website, do that NOW!


2. Include a QR code in your ad

QR codes are a great way to track direct hits from a print ad. They are a simple way to bridge the gap between the real world and the digital realm.

For those who have a QR code reader on their device, it will be quickest way for them to access your site.

QR codes can also be set up to save a particular contact or event detail to the user’s device -handy if you’re wanting them to lock in an upcoming expo date or a product launch.


3. Team up with a retailer to bring a special offer to readers

If, like us, you don’t sell your wares direct to the consumer, you could potentially still offer a discount or special deal to the end consumer by teaming up with a retailer (or several). Be sure to include a specific code in this type of ad. This sends customers directly to your retailer who can then let you know at the end of x number of weeks/months how many sales they had using the specific code.

Another benefit of this method is that you might be able to split the advertising cost with the retailer.

4. Set up a separate opt-in form for the advertisement

If you have an opt-in you want people to sign up for, be sure to create a separate opt-in form specific to the ad, so that you know EXACTLY how many people signed up through that form.

We have the Cloth Nappy Intensive, a mini eCourse to help parents choose, use and love their cloth nappies. Parents receive this free whenever they sign up for our newsletter. Whenever we run a print ad, we also create a new opt-in form or page for this course so that we know at any time how many people have signed up for the course through a particular ad.


Now over to you! What are some ways that you gauge ROI from print advertising? And which idea above will you put into practice?


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