HomeCall Tracking: Find Out Where Your Call-In Leads Are Coming From

Call Tracking: Find Out Where Your Call-In Leads Are Coming From

PPC advertising offers advertisers one of the most—if not the most—measurable advertising channels available. Advertisers can track clicks and conversions to the penny to calculate their exact return on investment (ROI). However, a serious and often-overlooked flaw exists: phone calls triggered by paid search advertisements often go untracked, which undervalues PPC’s impact.

Here’s what happens: Lots of prospects and customers click on PPC ads, then choose to call the company because they need more information to complete a purchase, or perhaps the site doesn’t allow for online conversions (think service providers, such as plumbers or attorneys). These offline conversions don’t get attributed to the PPC campaigns, so the ROI appears worse than it actually is.

Enter call tracking. Call tracking gives advertisers the missing ingredient for true ROI and performance calculation. This introduction will explain what call tracking is, the benefits it provides, how it works, and who it’s best for.

Problems Faced By Advertisers And Agencies

Most websites have one or two phone numbers listed on them. For advertisers, this means all site visitors call the same phone number, but advertisers don’t know how the caller found the site unless they ask the callers.

Most common problems faced now

  • Advertisers don’t have the time or staffing to grill a caller about how they found them, because they’re focused on helping the caller and closing sales. Even if they do ask, have you tried asking someone if they clicked an organic listing or a paid search ad? Callers usually have no clue what that means.
  • You can try using unique numbers for specific pages, but if the user navigates to a new page on the site you lose the original source of the call. (Not to mention it might confuse visitors if they keep seeing different phone numbers.)
  • Without actual call information, it’s easy for advertisers to throw their hands up and say “PPC doesn’t work. I spent all this money and got no leads.”
  • Even if advertisers do know they’re getting calls from PPC, they don’t know exactly which keywords, ads, and landing pages are delivering the calls, so they can’t properly optimize their campaigns.
  • PPC works great for tracking e-commerce sales, web forms, and downloads. But, for phone calls, it’s challenging and time-consuming to track calls.

Don’t make these call tracking mistakes. For all the reasons above and more, PPC call tracking is the answer.

What Call Tracking Is – And Why It Matters

Call tracking allows you to track offline conversions and know which sources led to calls. This helps advertisers understand which keywords, ad messages, landing pages, and campaigns are working the best. Ultimately, better call tracking metrics lead to a more accurate grasp on ROI.

Most advertisers agree that they need the phone to ring, but here are some actual statistics that support the need for call tracking:

  • BIA Kelsey research from 2012 showed that 61% of businesses say calls are the best leads they get.
  • Conversion Sciences research indicates phone calls are worth 5-10 times the value of form-fill leads.

Advertisers should want to track these leads, and agencies should want credit for them.

Call Tracking Features And Benefits

Here’s the situation without call tracking.

Before call tracking:

what is call tracking

And here’s the improved situation with call tracking in place.

After call tracking:

how call tracking works

This one simple change gives advertisers a goldmine of information about their keywords—and a lot more. Some of the more common features and benefits of call tracking include:

  • Caller name and phone number are captured: This is ideal for following up with leads who haven’t converted yet.
  • Campaign, ad group, keyword, and match type: Drill down into each campaign component and make performance-based changes. For example, if a keyword gets lots of clicks but no calls, you can bid that keyword down and diagnose why it’s not generating calls.
  • Landing page performance: This is useful for A/B testing—you know which landing pages drive the most phone calls.
  • Length of call: You can score leads based on call length and see which keywords generate the longest calls, another factor that may lead to increasing or decreasing bids for certain keywords.
  • Listen to recorded calls: Call recording allows advertisers to learn more about their customers’ needs and questions, which can be used to update site content, change product or service offerings, and target specific marketing messages to them. Call recording also serves as an invaluable employee training and assessment opportunity.
  • ROI excellence: Tie phone calls to PPC campaigns for the ultimate in ROI measurement. Advertisers finally have a complete picture of their PPC performance and make smarter decisions with their campaigns.

Call Tracking: Setting It Up And How It Works

Call tracking setup takes just a handful of relatively simple steps.

  1. Establish a pool of phone numbers to be used. The quantity of numbers needed depends on your site’s overall traffic levels.
  2. Replace the HTML phone number on your website with a snippet of JavaScript code.
  3. When a PPC visitor clicks your ad, the JavaScript code dynamically inserts one of the phone numbers from your pool of numbers where the old HTML phone number used to be on your website. That number stays with the visitor throughout her visit on your site, no matter what page she navigates to, and continues to stay with her for a predetermined time in case she returns to the site.
  4. The JavaScript code that was installed on the site captures the keyword that triggered your ad so you can tie the phone call back to the keyword.
  5. After a while the number gets recycled so you don’t have to keep adding new numbers to your pool.

Who Should Use Call Tracking?

As is the case with any marketing tactic, call tracking should be viewed as a must-have for some advertisers and an unnecessary expense for others. Why? Because some companies’ business models don’t require phone interaction.

Companies that rely on leads, such as service providers and companies with complex products, absolutely rely on phone calls to build their client base. Conversely, others require no customer interaction for a conversion to take place (think app providers and software downloads). They make it difficult to find any phone number on their sites because they’d rather not have any calls.

This chart lays out conversion rates and call durations by industry:

call tracking

Chart Via If By Phone

It’s not surprising to see Professional Services leading the way with an average call duration of eight and a half minutes. And, if you’re a Home Services provider, an 11.7% conversion rate certainly makes call tracking a worthwhile tactic.

One thing should be clear by now: If phone calls drive your organization’s success, a call tracking solution should be at the top of your to-do list.


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