Take Credit Where Credit is Due with Call Tracking

As marketing agencies, our biggest challenge is proving the ROI of our client campaigns, according to the “State of the Inbound Marketing 2013” report published by HubSpot.

Funny enough, many of us overlook a simple solution. According to Marketing Score, 65% of marketing agencies rate their usage of call tracking a two or lower out of 10, and 55% don’t use call tracking at all.

The simple fact is this: if a phone number is available, your campaigns may be driving calls. Depending on your client’s product/service, industry and customer preference, calls may be a significant portion of overall leads.

Call Tracking

A Call Tracking Case Study

Allow me to give you a real-life example.

In 2011, when we launched a campaign for one of my clients, Industrial Heat Sources (IHS), we were only tracking lead form conversions. As the campaign progressed, leads increased and the client was happy. However, after talking to the sales reps, it was obvious a decent portion of leads were calling.

As a test, we integrated call tracking into their site to see how many calls we were generating. The result was eye opening—approximately 60% of leads were calling.

Having set the bar low, my client was thrilled at the new, complete, lead numbers. With call tracking, we were able to make a measurable impact on their business.

Part of the problem with my client’s campaign early on was I didn’t really understand how call tracking worked or the benefits. I hope the following overview helps you as much as it did me.

How Call Tracking Works

Through your call tracking account, you are allotted a pool of tracking numbers. These numbers are then assigned to specific marketing initiatives or website visitor sessions.

When someone calls the number, the call is forwarded to your client’s business line, and information about the call and caller are recorded for later analysis. Some of the information collected includes:

  • Lead source
  • Call length
  • Time of call
  • Caller’s phone number
  • A full recording of the call (if activated)
  • Caller ID (if caller is using a landline)
  • Location (again if using a landline)

There are two main types of call tracking:

Static: These tracking numbers are assigned to specific marketing activities on a one-to-one basis. For example, if you want to capture calls generated from a TV commercial or trade show flier, you’d use a static call tracking number in the ad or flier.

Session-based: The more sophisticated of the two, session-based call tracking requires installing a bit of JavaScript on your client’s site. As a visitor comes to the site, they are assigned a session cookie and corresponding tracking number. That number then replaces all the visible numbers on the site. Session-based call tracking offers an additional layer of insights about the call conversion, including:

  • Keyword searched—at least what Google hasn’t hidden behind (not provided).
  • Referring website.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign details, including campaign, ad and keyword searched.
  • Last web page the visitor was on before calling.

Integrations with Other Technologies

One of the issues created by disparate tracking technologies is multiple dashboards from which to evaluate and report on campaign performance.

With most call tracking platforms, integrations have been built to feed offline conversion data directly into a variety of systems, including Google Analytics, AdWords, bid management software, lead management and automation platforms, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

What about Cost?

Typically, cost is determined by the total amount of tracking numbers allocated to your account, and total minutes of talk time used. Depending on the type of campaign your running, and need for detailed information, anticipate between 5-10% of total ad spend allocated toward call tracking.

A word of caution, costs can really swell when you’re using session-based tracking numbers to capture calls from large volumes of website traffic. Fortunately, there are a couple ways to reduce them:

Logic rules can be set up to only show call tracking numbers to specific types of traffic, reducing the total numbers needed. For example, only show tracking numbers to visitors generated by PPC campaigns.

Also, after you’ve run and collected statistically relevant offline conversion data with session-based numbers, you can swap them out for static numbers, significantly reducing the amount of numbers needed. Use the static tracking numbers to monitor for performance fluctuations ongoing.

Agency Guide to Call TrackingIf nothing else, I recommend at least testing call tracking. Integrating a couple tracking numbers throughout your site, in ads and offline promotions can tell you for sure what percentage of your leads are calling. From there, you can make a decision based on actual data.

If you’re interested in more information about how agencies can use call tracking, check out our client Mongoose Metrics’ ebook, “The Agency Guide to Call Tracking.” It provides a really good overview of how call tracking is used and offers tips on how to sell it to your clients.

Image Source: Smemon

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