Greetings fine peoples of the Internets. Brevity is the key to this post. So here we go. Tracking stuff is good…no duh, right? Everyone knows that. The same way everyone knows oranges taste good (and yes, Ms. Benes, they’re delicious). It’s just a basic assumption. It’s what we do. We track things. Tracking stuff is important. No but seriously, tracking stuff is important.
I recently had the genius idea to consolidate a group of 50-ish radio stations to a list of 6 unique phone numbers. My intention was to free up all those “1-800” phone numbers previously assigned to individual stations and use them for more testing and expansion. So, our team assigned each radio station to a “global” phone number based on the station format. Meaning all Urban stations would be assigned to one global phone number, all Gospel stations to one global number, you get the point. That was possibly the worst idea I’ve had in the history of ever.
Due to several factors, our radio Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) started to rocket up in January. But because we couldn’t see which stations and markets were causing the problem, we had no way to optimize and bring the CPA back down. Exactly 3 weeks after consolidating to global numbers, we hit the abort button and went back to individual tracking by assigning each station it’s own unique phone number. Back to the basics: 1-to-1 tracking. Within a week we could pinpoint the problems, optimize, and our CPA’s dropped immediately.
This really is a no-brainer, but you have to make a conscious effort to fight that overwhelming urge to “consolidate” your tracking by assigning multiple spots or campaigns to a single tracking source. Use every tool you can to provide as much visibility as possible: PURLs, unique phone numbers, cookies, time stamps, area codes, IP addresses, whatever. You can’t drive through a blizzard with broken windshield wipers. Pay the price and do whatever you have to in order to keep tracking and visibility at all times. It’s worth every second, and penny, because it will save you in the long run.