One of the great shifts in media driven by the Internet has been the emphasis on performance. After decades of loose accountability on the part of media providers to marketers, the Internet has introduced a suite of measurement tools that supply us with much more information than weve ever had before.

The apogee of measurement is Googles Adwords system: as a marketer you pay what you think is fair, you get relevant placement and you can track each click. A perfectly transparent system.

Over the past several years, Ive worked with a company in California to provide detailed call tracking to our customers, especially in the multi-family industry. The theory at the outset was that we needed to be as transparent as web providers in order to compete; a second motivator was a kind of morbid curiosity did our integrated-media strategy drive a high volume of leads at a good price, or were we destined to be outperformed by the web-only players.

CallSource has been a terrific partner and weve been able to provide transparency to our customers.

Recently, CallSource released some interesting data about their call volume, its sources and how the leads were handled.

A first point: Integrated media print & web distribution combined is a big driver of leads.

In April, CallSource reports that it processed 493,500 phone calls for its multi-family clients. (This largely includes media partners and property management companies.)callsource lead info.jpg

Of those 493,500 calls, 32%, or 156,180 calls came from Internet-coded sources. 68%, or 337,320 calls, came from other advertising sources, primarily print and integrated print/internet advertising sources.

Our internal numbers bear out this trend: our print distribution typically drives 3x the calls of our internet distribution.

In its year-end report covering call trends in the 4th quarter of 2008, CallSource points to some holes in the way that many property managers are handling their valuable phone leads.

Leasing professionals often did not even ask for the callers name (only 74% of the calls), and only 23% of calls from qualified renters were converted into appointments.

Leasing professionals also frequently neglected to ask how the caller heard about the apartment community.

Leads are the outcome of a balanced marketing program

These statistics arent intended to show that the multi-family industry is doing a poor job. In fact, the awareness of tracking, and creating a level of accountability around marketing spend, is higher in the multi-family industry than in many other industries.

The statistics point to the challenges in creating a balanced debate around marketing investment in todays media world in the multi-family industry and beyond.

We have so many different marketing channels that we are able to tap. In some channels, we have a high degree of transparency. In others, relatively little.callsource lead question.jpg

The goal of all marketing is to drive sales and increase profits. The current evolution of marketing tactics is highly focused on the cost of each customer transaction. Measurement creates a strong platform for building that knowledge.

Strong marketing continues to rely, however, on a few simple things that require patience and sophistication to measure. First, the customer experience: Does it align with the brand promise. Second, the brand awareness: Do consumers recognize the brand and have an association with it. Third, availability: Is the brand available and easy to connect with for the consumer?

Executing these three elements of a marketing campaign requires internal and external consistency in how a product or service is described and delivered. Multiple media and multiple advertising impressions deliver that message in a way that drives results and improves profits.

 

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