From the Winter 2005 issue of our newsletter, Let’s Grow.  For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE.

Internet Tracking:
Where ARE Those Responses Coming From?

Readers of Let’s Grow know I’m a stickler for tracking responses.  Without proper coding and tracking, media planning becomes nothing more than educated guesswork.   With it, you can identify and build on what works and eliminate what doesn’t. 

If you’re frustrated at the difficulty of tracking Internet responses, take heart.  It’s possible to track where 80% to 90% of them come from.  It just means doing things a little bit differently than you’re used to. 

Tracking Online Programs 

There are a variety of services that allow you to track not only the number of click-throughs from each source, but also the number of catalog requests, e-newsletter signups, and orders.  If you run a pay-per-click program, it’s very easy to track results by keyword.

The services work by placing some simple code on your landing page, plus the catalog request, newsletter signup or order confirmation page.  You can track click-throughs, number of sales (or catalog requests or newsletter signups), and the dollar amount of sales, all by source. 

The program will work for pay-per-click programs, banner ads, or e-mail promotions.  Once your account is set up, you can generate easy-to-read reports that give your sales figures by source.

Google and Overture both offer free tracking services, but they only work for their own pay-per-click programs.  We’re more comfortable using an independent service that can track all online marketing results. Most independent online tracking services cost about $20 per month.

Tracking Offline Programs

It’s easy to take an online tracking system described above and jury-rig it to track Internet orders generated by your offline advertising.  To do this, you’ll need to create a duplicate of your home page and give it a unique web site address. 

For instance, if Bob’s Greenhouses wanted to track online responses from a print ad in Horticulture, they might use the web site address of only for the Horticulture ad.  This new home page would connect to the rest of their website at

After that, tracking works like the online tracking described above.  The cost of obtaining a new website address is less than $10, and the work to duplicate the home page is minimal.  Considering the definitive information to be gleaned, it’s well worth the effort.

Marketing Smarter

Once you have your tracking system set up, you’ll know precisely what’s driving your online sales, be it search engine results, pay-per-click programs, e-mail marketing, or off-line advertising.

Not only will you know whether or not your pay-per-click program is working, but you’ll know exactly how each search term performs. 

Running an e-mail program?  Now you can test the impact of different subject lines, new copy, or increased frequency – not just on click-throughs, but on sales. 

With online sales accounting for upwards of one-third of many companies’ orders, it’s more important than ever to get a handle on where they’re coming from.

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Helpful Articles

For helpful how-to articles from past issues of Let’s Grow, our newsletter of marketing insights for the garden industry, click on the links below.