Sales source tracking and its limitations: marketing tunnel vision

A huge trend today is to put a strong focus on sales source tracking; sales source tracking has its virtues in helping decision makers, but there are problems that need to be acknowledged.

For example, we did a plumbing direct mailer  for a client and only tracked 11 calls from the mailer number. However, we discovered that in actuality, 44 more sales had been generated from that same mailer.

Upon closer examination it was revealed that the new prospects got the cards, went to the internet, learned more about the company, and then called. We were able to discover this by tracking coupon redemption. In this situation, when the tech gave the client the invoice the client turned in the coupon that was only on the direct mailer.

Another example would be the results generated from our popular tune-up cards. Any HVAC professional will tell you that between 1 out of ten to 1 out of twenty tune-ups convert to a major repair or replacement in the hands of a sales trained technician. This is great, but presents a tracking problem. When the postcard was sent to generate a tune-up and turns into a major repair or replacement, the tune-up card is never used and never tracked. The tune-up card helped create the sale but doesn’t get any of the credit. The more successful the technician is at converting tune-ups into replacements or repairs, the less effective the card appears when they are in fact doing exactly what they were designed to.

So we are left with some questions…

Does the direct mail get the credit for the sale?

The internet marketing?

The radio ad that made the new customer familiar with your company?

The truck he saw two weeks ago at a friend’s home?

The sales training the tech received?

We have also been told that some contractors have seen coupons on the fridge that the customer chose not to redeem. When asked why they didn’t redeem it, the customer explained that they feared the “tech would have his pay cut”…similar to a waitress losing out on tip money.

This is a situation where the sum parts exceed the whole.

My conclusion is that the key numbers to track are:

1)      New customer cost

2)      Customer retention Rates

3)      Net profit

Bottom line! Source tracking numbers are good at showing trends of what is increasing response and what is not working, but they are not 100% reliable as a cost or results measure. Source tracking shows trends and estimates, but doesn’t produce hard numbers. This is because the components of your marketing strategy (advertising and branding) are working together to create results. Source tracking data is useful, but limited in the story it can tell, because by itself it creates marketing tunnel vision.

Emily Morosi