As the owner of a small business that specializes in marketing, I see firsthand how important it is to track our own marketing spend, as well as that of our clients. Without it, we’re shooting in the dark when it comes to understanding our ROI and which marketing investments are working. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer working outside of the dark! Concrete data helps us properly allocate our marketing spend and target our efforts to get better results.

Investing in newspaper, radio and Facebook ads; Google Adwords and direct mail campaigns is a solid way to get marketing results, but you can be throwing money away if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not! I’ve seen many small businesses invest in a variety of marketing initiatives over the years (which is great!), but many of them blindly invest without tracking, which can be a recipe for disaster.

The good news? Technology advancements have made it incredibly easy to track marketing spend and ROI, for large and small businesses alike!

The missing link in effective tracking.
As a marketing pro, part of my day is always tuned toward finding the latest, most-effective tools — both for our business and for our clients. After coming across a new tool from Ifbyphone called Inquire, I knew we were onto something that was more than the “tool of the week.” Forget the hype and hoopla that can surround some marketing tools, Inquire is the real deal. A low-cost call tracking and lead response software solution that costs less than $13 a month (less than it probably costs you to fill the office candy bowl!), it helps you track and respond to leads instantly. What does that mean for your business? It gives you the instant data you need to spend money on ads that drive leads. And only those ads that are actually working. It’s that simple.

I love that Inquire is currently offering a free 14-day trial, too. No gimmicks, no credit card for signup so you aren’t scrambling to cancel before getting slapped with a huge bill. Just a way for you to see results firsthand. To experience the ease of use, signup on the Ifbyphone Inquire product page.

Yes, you really should track your marketing spend.
Sure, I’ve laid out how Inquire can help, but I know that most small businesses aren’t exactly eager to add another monthly cost to their budget. Even one as small as the monthly cost of Inquire. And sometimes those tools that seem great initially don’t provide the benefit you’re seeking. So, I’ve compiled five (5) solid reasons small business owners need to track their marketing spend (and how Inquire can help).

1. Reach your target audience. Most small businesses can’t afford to waste money on advertising to the wrong market. Stop guessing which ads and marketing campaigns are driving money — and which aren’t. Inquire ads feature unique phone numbers so you can tell which leads are being driven from where. It’s a simple way to track ad effectiveness; allowing you to allocate funds from underperforming marketing initiatives to those that are generating leads.

2. Negotiate better ad rates. Newspapers, bulletins and other print ad sellers will negotiate better rates for companies who run ads consistently. The problem is, small business owners often flip flop between two or more publications because they don’t know which performs better, causing their placement opportunities to go down while their prices go up. Inquire’s simple dashboard tells you which ads are generating leads and how much each lead costs. That way, you can run ads consistently in the places that drive new business without wasting money on ads that don’t.

3. Turn anyone who answers the phone into a knowledgeable sales professional. Chances are you don’t have a dedicated sales staff. For many small businesses, your receptionist, office manager, or whoever is nearest the phone is responsible for converting incoming calls into sales. With Inquire’s whisper messaging technology, you gain insight into who is calling and why. You’ll know where calls are derived from before you answer so that you can better address and route them.

4. Stop losing leads due to response delays. Do you find that you’ve missed out on leads because no one followed up in a timely manner? Stop giving your competitors a spot at the table by responding immediately to all leads. You can easily set up Inquire to alert you via email with contact information from web and email leads so you never miss out again.

5. Be everywhere and still at work. Whether it’s meeting with new clients, vendors, attending trade shows, or just taking a much-needed breather, you do it all for your small business. While you can’t afford to stay tied to your desk, you also can’t afford to miss a lead. With Inquire, you can forward calls to your cell phone, home phone or even a colleague’s office so you’ll never miss the opportunity to convert your leads into customers before your competitors do.

Hopefully these tips and insights are helpful to you and your business. I’m in the trenches as a small business owner every day, and I work with a variety of them to help them achieve their goals. It isn’t easy for me to get excited about new tools, but I can’t help but be excited about Inquire and its potential to make a big impact on your marketing ROI.

Are you using any tools right now to track your marketing spend? What are your thoughts and experiences with them? I’d love to hear what’s working for you (and what’s not) — we’re all in this together! While you’re in the marketing ROI frame of mind, I really recommend heading over to the Inquire site to check out the free 14-day trial.