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.
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.