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advertising money

Capturing data for any form of marketing is pretty much a “no-brainer”. If you do not know where your customers are seeing your business first, and therefore beginning to engage with your business, you have no idea if your ad spend is worthwhile or not.

It’s OK to know you’ve achieved so much new business in Q3, but it’s not OK to not know how that business was generated. The more heavily you can segment that data the better.  You’ll then be in a position to know where you should invest your marketing pounds. Online and offline knowledge is not enough anymore, not since social media and other cool things have come along. Added to this, there can often be a real close correlation between online activity, and associated ad spend, and offline purchases. I see this daily.

So how do you segment, and find out?

One of the simplest ways of extracting this highly useful information is by simply asking the new customer, both face to face and digitally.

In Falmouth Boat Hire (one of the businesses I am growing), I have come up with a very simple procedure. ASK at the point of sale.

It’s that simple.

Look at just some of the marketing channels the business currently has.

  • Google ad words
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Existing business
  • Google organic search
  • Leaflets
  • Advertising boards
  • Social media
  • Van sign-writing
  • Partner magazines
  • Partner guide books (multiple towns)
  • Posters
  • Various others….

So this is quite some list, and essentially customers can first come across the business in one of those many ways. However, the sales path can be complex. Here are some examples of how and why tracking purchases is imperative.

  • They perform a Google search, then click on an Ad, then their doorbell rings and they do not follow through with an online  booking – but call us the next day
  • They are facebook users and one of their friends has just “liked” the facebook page, so they begin to look at our pictures and read the stories about the business. They then go directly to the website and book online or pop down the quay and book face to face.
  • They are hotel guests with one of our partners and they’ve seen one of our leaflets, they then wander down to the quay the following day and book a boat.
  • They find us on Google maps, then see the Town Guidebook the next day. The following week they see an advertising board and decide to call us and book online.

I could continue, and all of these are very real scenarios.

I know these are very real because I ASK right at the point of purchase, in fact I don’t just ask, I actually quiz the customer each and every time. This data is so important that I have written it into a company procedure document where every member of staff on the quay MUST quiz the customer, when they are completing the booking process. Questions will be along the lines of:

  • FBH: “where did you first see us Sir
  • Customer: “Internet
  • FBH: “was that a Google search Sir, or an Ad
  • Customer: I think it was on a tourism website
  • FBH: “do you know which one Sir
  • Customer: (asks wife) “yes it was XYZ


I now know I have obtained a referral from XYZ, not the “internet” which is simply far too broad, but I now know the sale is exactly from XYZ.

At the end of the season we take all of our booking forms and collate the data and make pretty graphs, and this gives us a very accurate picture of how a customer found us in the first instance. So you can see this quizzing is important because it tells me if I am spending ad money wisely, and if it is working, or not. Without having a conversation, the customer’s response of “Internet” could give us any number of possibilities. Which is fine if you lump things into one pile, like perhaps offline and online marketing, but it’s very BAD if the customer finds you first one way but then purchases through a different channel – you could be thinking one of your channels is not working, or working better than it actually is.


How can I start?

  • Start collecting data. Do you have some already? Do you have a mailing list of customers? Go ahead and create a survey and ask them, get your graphs.
  • Create a “point of sale” procedure where your staff must quiz the customer – you are now gathering good data
  • List all of your marketing channels, segment them as much as possible, and put these channels into a list within your e-commerce website, ASK the customer when they purchase.

So, where should I spend advertising money?