Note: This post originally appeared on the blog of my since-shuttered analytics firm: Axiomatic. That said, if you need some analytics work, get in touch
It's an old canard that off-line marketing is not as measurable as online and that's kind of true. However if you think about it ahead of time you can track a good portion of these marketing efforts in Google Analytics - or the analytics platform of your choosing - itself.
For almost any printed piece - whether that be a business card, a poster, a flyer, a brochure, a billboard or newspaper ad - any time you include a URL you want it to be something short and memorable. So I would suggest that you get yourself a custom URL that maps to a shortening service such as bit.ly.
Or go with a vanity URL service of some source (something you’re likely doing anyway).
From there you can create vanity URLs that are specific to a printed piece itself. And those URLs can expand out into something that is tagged using the UTM and campaign tags just like you use for online marketing and track their performance later.
Here’s a suggested UTM scheme:
This approach is never going to get all the impact of your printed marketing. A fair number of people are going to read your printed material, Google for your site and get to you that way. There's not much we can do to track that, other than using organic brand search queries as a corollary.
What this approach can give you is the ability to measure visitors who see your printed material see the URL (or use a QR code) and go directly to that URL from the printed material.
From there you can track them as you would any other campaign source or referral source inside Google analytics. You can figure out which of your printed materials, for instance, might convert better into paying customers. You might also be able to track which printed formats are working best.
You could even turn CPM into a direct conversion rate - or at least one comparable to other impression-based advertising or marketing.