Adding Phone Call Tracking to the Conversion Optimization Mix

By , January 23rd, 2011 in Conversion | 13 comments
This is a guest post. The author’s opinions are entirely his or her own and may not always reflect the views of Unbounce.
Today’s post is from Andrew Miller, a Search Engine Marketing Consultant in Richmond, VA and blogger at CallTrackingBlog.com.

Tracking online conversions is easy, right? Tag a few links, define some funnels and select your goal pages. Voilá! Instant insight into which marketing channels and landing pages are working and which could use a tune-up.

But what about companies that advertise online and need their phone to ring in order to acquire new customers? This describes nearly every offline or service-related business you can think of. It’s a huge gap in “traditional” web analytics offerings.

Your phone isn’t working right if you’re not tracking and optimizing the calls.

Phone call tracking is quickly becoming an important consideration in web analytics and conversion rate optimization. It sounds complex, but with the right tools, phone calls and clicks can be connected to paint a clearer picture of how well this type of campaign is converting visitors to buyers.

Why Track Phone Calls?

Some offline businesses receive 50-75% of their leads over the phone, and conversion rates are usually north of 30-40%. Not counting these leads in your conversion calculations means you are missing a huge chunk of conversion data and could dramatically skew your Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) metrics.

Compared to click-based conversions, phone calls are a rich source of customer feedback and questions that can help refine online and offline marketing materials.

Unlike email leads, where consumers expect some latency, phone calls should be returned immediately. Phone leads “get stale” quickly and Tim Ash of SiteTuners.com notes that delaying a call back from 5 minutes to 10 minutes diminishes the quality of the lead by a factor of 4!

How To Measure and Attribute Phone Leads

There’s the old-fashioned way, asking, “How did you hear about us?” which bets on a customer’s fuzzy memory. Or you can manually code different phone numbers into your landing pages based on traffic source. Personally, I’d rather juggle hot coals.

Luckily there’s a better way, and it’s not as complicated as you might think.

Dozens of software vendors offer automated call tracking tools that dynamically replace phone numbers on a web site with unique local or toll-free numbers based on the traffic source, campaign or keyword.

Get More Calls The Easy Way

Any conversion optimization expert can tell you that phone numbers should be displayed prominently on a page or in an ad with a clear call to action beside it. What’s the use of having a phone number if your site visitors have to dig through a cluttered footer or find a contact page to find it?

If you are seeking business outside your geographic area, it’s best to include a toll-free number so customers are not forced to pay extra for a long distance call (most won’t).

Finally, let your visitors know what to expect if they decide to call you. Can you give a price quote in 5 minutes? Do you offer a discount or free gift for phone orders? Get creative with the incentives!

You Got the Call. Now What?

Once a visitor dials the tracking number, the call is instantly routed to a number designated by the site owner. The caller ID, call duration and originating source are logged for future analysis. Calls can be recorded and, depending on the call tracking provider’s capabilities, be automatically transcribed into a searchable text file that can be mined for keywords that indicate a conversion occurred, such as “confirmation number” or “expiration date.”

Periodically review your call data alongside your site traffic data to determine which sources generate the best phone calls. Similar to any online lead generation effort, call quality should be assessed in addition to the pure number of calls.

This type of online-to-offline conversion tracking was previously only available to companies large enough to build a custom solution or afford a high-priced enterprise package. Many call tracking vendors now offer self-service options – opening it up to the small-to-medium business market.

It’s a huge opportunity to kick your marketing efficiency up a notch if you rely on phone calls as part of your sales funnel.

Integration with Web Analytics and CRM Systems

Some of the more popular self-service call tracking systems can generate a virtual page view for Google Analytics for goal tracking or populate your lead data directly into CRM’s like SalesForce.com.

How to Get Started

When searching for a call tracking solution, here are some good things to consider:

  • Does it integrate with your preferred tools? Ask about analytics and CRM integrations so your leads are attributed to the right source(s) and available for future follow-up.
  • Are phone calls recorded for later analysis? This will allow you to measure lead quality and assess how well your sales team handles calls.
  • Check their phone number “cleaning” procedures. You don’t want to re-use numbers too quickly after they are retired from a previous campaign. This is typically 60-90 days or more.
  • Does it offer white-labeled dashboards and reporting for your clients or stakeholders?

Call tracking is a rapidly evolving field and one that marketers are going to rely on as conversion rate optimization becomes a “must-have” to remain competitive.

Editor’s note: if you have any questions about call tracking, please share in the comments and Andrew will be able to answer for you.

Andrew Miller

About The Author

Photo of Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller is a Search Engine Marketing Consultant in Richmond, VA and blogger at CallTrackingBlog.com. In his free time, well, he has a newborn son so there’s no such thing anymore.
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Comments

  1. Rae Catanese says:

    Does this work with Google Voice? What application do you recommend ? Thx for the tip

  2. Andrew says:

    Rae,

    Google Voice does not track the source of an incoming call (an ad campaign, PPC keyword, etc.) so it wouldn’t be very useful for conversion optimization efforts.

    If you are serious about call tracking as part of a larger web analytics strategy, start researching call tracking vendors and find one that suits your needs and budget. I have a vendor comparison table on CallTrackingBlog.com that may be a good place to start. A small investment in call tracking will yield increasingly profitable campaigns as you optimize based on what actually works.

  3. Brian Hayashi says:

    Google Voice is a great way to start doing.call tracking. You will need one Google Voice number for each page variant. Set each Google Voice account to ring through to the same numbers. You’ll be able to get a precise count of which landing pages led to a phone call.

    We’ve done customized call tracking programs for companies like RentMarketer where we deployed literally hundreds of phone numbers that would route calls from dozens of websites. The key is to make it invisible to the people involved in the call, and to take some simple steps to avoid fraud – employees often attempt to use these numbers as free long distance.

    • Peter says:

      Hi Brian..read your post but it seems that Google Voice doenst let you forward more than one voice number to the same forwarding phone….I got a weird message that said someone else has verified your forwarding number and it is no longer in service…which was me setting up the forwarding on another google voice account to the same forwarding number….it’s confusing me!!! any advice for setting this up?

  4. I’ve used Mongoose Metrics in the past with great success. You can enter your Google Analytics ID and they automatically trigger event or conversion events every time the phone rings. Check it out —
    http://www.mongoosemetrics.com/

  5. […] would encourage you to read my latest entries, “Adding Phone Call Tracking to the Conversion Optimization Mix” and “SEO for Mid-Sized Businesses – All […]

  6. […] Web integration: Connecting and tracking conversions between the call center and website, over at Unbounce. I got information that a company called Freespee offered services around this, check it out here. […]

  7. Oli Gardner says:

    Thanks for a great guest post. I have a question about choosing a phone tracking vendor. I like that you didn’t focus on them in the post and kept it neutral, but I think it would be cool if you could share some vendor info in the comments to help people that are looking for something like this.

  8. Todd says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I am having a dilemma trying to pass on the benefits of call tracking the President of our company. He does not feel confident in having our phone number changed automatically for certain ads when one lands on a page of our website, or receives a catalog, etc.. I have tried to convince him that people do not remember our phone number anyways so why NOT have it! What kind of techniques should I explore when trying to convince him that large corporations do this and its what we need to do (seeing 70% of sales come from phone leads off our website..presumably)?

  9. @Todd,

    That’s a very common objection from clients and other stakeholders. I wrote a post with the 10 most common reasons I’ve heard for not implementing call tracking:

    http://calltrackingblog.com/2010/12/10-reasons-not-to-track-phone-calls/

    People don’t like change. The only way to change minds is with data. Numbers don’t lie. Propose a small-scale test with call tracking. Maybe change numbers for just one traffic source (a specific PPC or email campaign, for example). Or, run A/B tests with landing pages with and without tracking numbers. Use the data to prove that call tracking provides better results. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

  10. Jeff says:

    Andrew- Good article. We sometimes put the phone number in adwords to see if we can make the phone ring (rather than get a click). We have no tracking for the phone now so our success/failure is anecdotal at best. I thought the “how to get started” part was good but i was hoping you had a few vendors that you might point me towards. We are small (not a fortune 500) company and my experience has been these systems are pricey. Also, we are a Microsoft CRM house so if you know of something that integrates well, that would be great. Thanks.

  11. AvidTrak says:

    AvidTrak is a web based software platform which dispenses trackable telephone numbers that are used to track inbound phone call conversions.

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