How To Track Your Advertising Success Rate

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” John Wanamaker (1838-1922) was a very successful American merchant, and considered to be a marketing pioneer.

Advertising takes time and money, and you want to use both wisely. To do this, you need to track the success rate of all of your advertising campaigns. This allows you to tweak and customize where you advertise and what you say in your ads.

Discover which ads work best, and you’re well on your way to a successful business.

Before you begin to put together an advertising campaign, you have to answer two questions:

  • Who is my target market?
  • Where is my target market?

This will tell you where you need to go, and what you need to say, to make the most effective ads.

For example, you don’t want to advertise a senior living community on a cutting edge online gaming site. And you don’t want to advertise that gaming site in a senior’s magazine.

On social media, if you want to advertise to 20 somethings, you go to Instagram. For people in their 40’s to 50’s, you advertise on Facebook. Even then, the 20 somethings you are looking for may not be that active on Instagram. That’s why knowing your market is so essential.

Any outlet you want to advertise in can provide you with the demographics of their viewers, so ask them for this. Take their numbers with a grain of salt. It’s not uncommon for them to boost the numbers a little higher than they really are through creative counting.

Let’s talk about tracking ads in various media channels.


  • If you send out an ezine or enewsletter, have any links in it go to a unique page on your website or blog. For instance, you could have a link in the January newsletter that goes to You can then track the stats for that page.
  • Use an email marketing program like MailChimp or MailerLite to create and send your emails and newsletters. They give you lots of good stats, including: how many people opened your emails, and how many people clicked on each link in those emails.


  • Use a unique discount code for all sales on websites, emails and newsletters. If you place an ad every week, the code for week one could be Special 1, week two could be Special 2, and so on. So you can track which week was the most successful. The discount code can also include info about the site where the ad is located. If you place an ad at and your ad for week one could be Special W1 for Widget, and Special S1 for Sprocket.
  • Just like in enewsletters, you can have a link that goes to a special page. The content on each page will be the same, but the link will be different. One link for ads at and one for
  • You can also create a link at a site like Bitly ( Not only do they provide lots of stats, but the link is shorter so it looks better than a link that’s two-lines long.

TV commercial

You may think that television is out of your price range, but local cable/dish ads can be pretty inexpensive. Have you noticed that sometimes in the middle of a commercial that it cuts to a different commercial? That’s the cable/dish company switching you from a national commercial to a local one.

  • As mentioned above, you can use a discount code.
  • If you want potential clients to call you, you can use a special 800 number. I suggest using a variant, like an 877 number because a phone number starting with 800 will be expensive.
  • A variation on the discount code is using an operator’s name. Tell them to call and ask for Jeff, or Sarah. Jeff would be for the ad you ran at 8:00 AM and Sarah would be your 10:00 AM ad. When they ask for that person, whoever answers the phone says, “Jeff is busy, but I can help you.” They then mark down the name the caller asked for.

Print ads

  • Coupons that can be cut out and brought into a business, or used online, are great. Code them as above so you can tell what publication and month they came from. A Time magazine ad in January could include code T01.
  • You can also use the above name technique if you have a phone number for them to call.


Radio ads must be simple and clear. Coupon codes or phone numbers must be easy to remember since people often listen to the radio while driving. You don’t want them to have an accident while trying to write down your code or phone number.

There’s used to be a taxi company where I live whose phone number was 877-777-7777. That’s pretty easy to remember and would work great in radio ads.

  • You could have an easy phone number, like the taxi company, and instead of a discount code, you can have them call in the next hour. That way, they only have to remember your easy phone number for a short time. It also creates a sense of urgency, which can generate a larger response to an ad. That’s why television commercials will say, “Call in the next 10 minutes.”

Tracking the success of your advertising dollars is essential to maximize the return on your investment. Using the above techniques will let you do that, and increase your success.

Have Fun,