Weeding out the salespeople from your statistics

I’ll always remember, working on a magazine many years ago, a first-time advertiser calling one morning and informing us, with a smirk, that he knew the magazine had arrived on people’s desks because his phone hadn’t stopped ringing for the past two hours. After waiting for the advertising sales rep to express his delight, the advertiser than added: “…and every one of the calls has been from other magazines asking if I wanted to advertise in their publications too!”

If this sort of unwanted contact was annoying in the past, it’s doubly so when you’ve got systems set up to measure response to a promotion. A reader asked me the other day if I could think of a way around her particular problem. She had a contact form on the company’s website, and it was set up to record the sources of the traffic which led to enquiries. The problem was, a large number of the enquiries were not productive ones, but were just from people misusing the form to try to sell them stuff. Because the form just sent her an email with its contents, there was no way to mark the contact as “unwanted” for the purposes of measuring quality enquiries and their sources. So she ended up with 10 enquiries, 5 of which were good, and some stats which said that website A sent 5 of them, website B sent 3 and website C sent 2. But who sent the good ones?

I’m not sure I’ve got the answer – maybe some sort of system where the form didn’t send an email, but instead populated a database where the enquiry could be accepted or rejected, and only then triggering an event in Analytics? Has anyone got any good suggestions? I think I might be inclined to use forms just for specific requests which would only come from real enquirers (e.g “please send me the catalogue”), and if people want to send you a message, then give them your email address to use. This would weed out the salespeople.

Discussion

  1. Dave J.

    Great question. I gave up on tracking inquiries that way a long time ago, it was hard to do, you are right. I look at our output of quotes (which sales tracks to source) for results. All the chaff just blows away … and bonus call-ins based on website visits can get added.

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