Issue 12   July 8, 2010

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Keying Your Ads
Trying to find out how people heard about your store or sale?

by Kim Skinner

Before I discovered this wonderful thing called "The Internet", I owned a mail order business.

When I was just starting out, among the many procedures, and tips I came across, one remained a constant. "Key Your Ads". It is absolutely imperative that you know which ads are pulling, and which aren't. And it was easy. For every classified ad I placed, I used the initials of the magazine, and the month and year of the issue. For example, I placed an ad in the National Enquirer in January of 1996. So, I added "Dept. NE196" to my address. I knew exactly where a response came from by the address written on the envelope.

Keying my ads, of course, became a top priority. It was second nature. But when I ventured onto the Internet, how to key my ads was somewhat of a mystery. I wasn't asking for any postal mail, where a potential customer would have to write my "Key" in the address.

So, I started by asking for a certain word, or phrase, in the subject of the e-mail. That worked to a point, but as I've discovered online, people are impatient. They didn't always input my "Key" in the subject area.

Next, I tried forms. I placed a form on my web site that stated simply, "Where Did You Find Our Site?". On a drop down menu, the visitor had 7 seven choices to choose from. One of those choices was "Other". About 90% of the replies I received were "Other". I figured people may have clicked on many links, found themselves at my site, and simply forgot how they found it.

One day, when I was still fairly new to online marketing, I received an e-mail message from someone I don't remember. But what I DO remember is the reply address he/she placed within the message. It looked a little odd. Something like this: mailto:webmaster@kndpublishing?subject=Example

I clicked on it. My mail program came up, as usual, with the recipient's address already in place, but what got me, was, the SUBJECT was already in place too! It was a revelation. I couldn't believe my good fortune. Without even trying, I had discovered a way to key my e-mail ads!

So, now I was able to track where my e-mail was coming from. But there was still the problem of knowing where the visitors to my site were coming from. I looked into many software programs claiming to be able to tell me the URL of the referring page, i.e., where the visitors were coming from. But, at the time, I was on a slim budget for my online venture, and couldn't spare the few hundred they were asking for. And am I glad I couldn't!

Why? Because, I have discovered a FREE, easy way to key my ads, and track the visitors to my site.

One day, I was looking for a free counter. I found one at this site: (If you decide to check this site out, they have 3 different counters. You can also look at FreeCounter2.html and FreeCounter1.html ).

I placed a counter on all of my main pages, giving them different id names. Every day, in real time, the counter counts my visitors, and places the numbers at a special URL, just for me and my site.

The counter was ok, but I was still worried about keying my ads. I was getting hits, but I had no idea where they were coming from. But I pushed on, placing free classifieds for hours at a time, advertising in appropriate newsgroups, banner exchanges, link exchanges, etc.

I'm not sure how long it took me to realize that I could do the same thing with my URL that I was doing with my reply e-mail addresses. But I tried it one day, went to my special URL to see my hit count, and there it was......the answer to my Ad Key problems.

I typed my URL in my web browser. But instead of typing just I typed Guess what? My page came up exactly as it was supposed to, and I had my ad keys.

Now, when I place a classified ad, I type in And when I advertise in a newsgroup, I type in

When I go to my hit count page, I can see exactly how many people hit my site from a certain ad. I can't tell you how much time this has saved me with my advertising. I used to spend hours putting up free classified ads, but I don't anymore, because I wasn't getting many hits from them. Imagine, all those hours of work, for nothing! Oh and learn.

Keying your's an absolute must! Happy marketing!

Along with being the author of numerous articles on the subject of Internet Marketing, I've also written a book, titled "Internet Marketing Techniques That Your Competition DOES NOT Want You To Know."

I've been working online for nearly three years, and make my living helping others achieve success online.


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