The return on investment (ROI) on print advertising can be notoriously hard to measure, but just because something is hard to measure, it doesn’t mean that the value isn’t there.

In fact, savvy marketers have found that as print becomes more rare, it’s benefits are increasing.

Here are a few of my favourite tips to maximise your ROI on print ads in niche industries and trade magazines.

  1. Pick the right magazine

The key questions here are – does the magazine go to your customers and potential customers? And are they reading it?

TIP: Make sure the magazine’s circulation is independently audited. In Australia this means it needs to be audited by the Audited Media Association of Australia ( and should have the CAB or ABC badge. If a magazine is not audited, run a mile as you can’t believe the figures they give you.

  1. Get your ad in the right context

While many people are keen on early right hand pages or other premium spots, often the best results can be gained from advertising alongside a relevant feature – this way the magazine has already got your customers’ attention. Look for magazines that have genuine and relevant editorial, rather than just advertorial from your competitors.

Often companies will look to include their own editorial as well, and this can be effective too, but the great benefit of an independent trade magazine with quality editorial is that they have already engaged your prospects’ attention, so often you can get a better result by appearing with something independent. Otherwise you might as well just send out your own brochure!

  1. Include a trackable link

Create a separate url for each publication you are in so you can measure and compare the exact number of responses each publication generates.

For best results try to avoid obvious tracking links such as as readers will generally recognise that and drop the suffix. Instead for as little as $10 a year you can create a unique url.

While these links won’t reflect the full impact of the ad, it is certainly a great way to compare more than one magazine.

  1. Offer something of value

To make tip three work properly, you also need to give people a reason to actually click that link, such as offering a free whitepaper or another call to action. If you are in an industry where you’re selling high value equipment with long lead times, your customers are not necessarily looking for your products the day they see that ad – but if you can give them a reason to come to your site, and capture their details when they’re there, then you’ve initiated that relationship.

  1. Get extra copies

Talk to the publisher – best to do this before they go to print – about how many extra copies you can get. Have your sales reps take copies with them, put them in your reception, take them to tradeshows. Sure, you can do this with your own brochures as well, but a quality and independent trade magazine will always get that extra level of attention.

Also send copies to your key customers, use post-its to mark up the relevant pages so they find you straight away. Include a personal note as to why you think they’d be interested.


This is just a few tips that immediately come to mind. There are lots of ways to get the most out of print, and lots of ways in which it is still a very effective medium – so I’m sure I’ll return to this topic soon.