‘Half the Money I Spend is Wasted, the Problem is I Do Not Know Which Half’

Lord Leverhulme’s dilemma has come back to haunt us but a bit of effort from you, and some buy in from your sales team, can yield results.


I remember a halcyon period in the 90s managing a plethora of promotional telephone numbers. I knew exactly where all my enquiries were coming from (different telephone number for each source) and largely where the business was coming from, if I could trust the sales team to ask the right question.


Then the internet came along….


Suddenly there were thousands of people visiting my website and for a large proportion of them, I had no idea how and why they’d got there. OK, we’ve all got website analytics we can pore over to study traffic sources, but what about all that ‘branded’ search traffic? It may be search engine traffic, but something drove them to the search engine in the first place – but what?


We all know that effective tracking is key to optimising budgets, and marketing teams have never been more accountable for their results than they are now, so a solution had to be found.  So what was my solution? Ask your client or prospective client, and if you don’t get an answer, ask again.


Or, put another way – ask for this information at each point of contact with the client or prospect until you get it or die trying. To elaborate:


  • Ensure you’re asking for this information each time the client’s asking something from you– when they sign up for emails (if you’re nervous, you don’t have to make the field compulsory), when they ask for further information. You going to give a little, so they’ll be prepared to give a little back.


  • Lord Leverhulme's Dilemna Comes Back to Haunt Us
    Lord Leverhulme’s Dilemna Comes Back to Haunt Us

    Get your sales or customer service team onboard – if sales people are incentivised, then the more information they get for you, the better the leads you’ll deliver to them and the more commission they’ll make.  Ensure you explain this virtuous circle.


  • Make sure your IT systems back you up – a compulsory source code field (or fields) that can’t be skipped.  A reminder to the Sales Consultant when they open a customer record that the field is “Unknown”. The ability to combine different sources of data in one place.


  • Don’t Just Rely on Your Sales/CS Team – if you’re sending out further communications, ask again. Perhaps in a “why didn’t you book” survey or on a customer service questionnaire.


However, a few words of warning.  As Einstein once said “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. As we scamper towards the new, measurable media we have to retain a dose of common sense, so remember these few key things:


  • No information is better than misinformation – don’t force people to choose seomthing. Always offer them a “sorry, I can’t remember” or “Unknown” option.


  • Don’t get channels confused with sources – “website” is not a source. They didn’t just spontaneously appear on your website – something prompted them to go there.  Find out what.


  • Try and get the whole story – search engines always look like they deliver fabulous results, but that’s because they’re often at the sharp end of the decision making cycle.  A piece of PR or, heaven forfend, offline advertising might have sent them there.  I’d recommend offering more than one source option to get a fuller picture.


  • Apply your marketing common sense – something may not appear to be working that well, but you feel it’s driving people into other successful channels. If so, stick with it.  But don’t be afraid of a little experimentation – reduce the budget in the offending discipline and see what impact it has. You’re not going to optimise your mix if you’re afraid of breaking a few metaphorical eggs.


The more effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out.  OK – this isn’t the fun, fluffy market we got into the profession for, but turning up with a spreadsheet outlining what’s working and what’s not is a surefire way to enhance your credibility in the business and build a more harmonious relationship with your FD.