A large number of businesses still convert enquiries to sales leads over the phone. The practice of tracking calls received by a business to help them better understand how their marketing and advertising effort was going is a long standing and proven practice – even before the internet arrived. The value derived from such information has not diminished and now with the internet, there is a growing hunger within the marketing beast to compile even more data so the marketing people can perform richer analysis and make better decisions. For some time Call Tracking across the internet presented a number of challenges but this industry has considerably matured and despite the cries of woe from some areas, it has arisen once again as being yet another powerful tool in the arsenal of all marketers.
Primarily, as marketers we want to know how well the different marketing strategies deployed is performing so you can then determine where to focus your attention in the next series of marketing campaigns. Marketing relies on performance metrics, as it typically is an ever-evolving process. At the heart of it, all we would like to know, for instance:
- How many people is our marketing getting in front of
- What percentage is taking some form of action and what action are they taking
- Of all the people who visit our website, where they come from and which particular at all campaign drove them their
- Which media streams generate better sales leads
These are of course, only just some of the questions we might seek answers to in better understanding our marketing performance.
What has made it more complicated in the arena of the internet is the fact that we now need to track performance of both off-line and online marketing. Further to this, there is a growing list of digital media channels your business may find itself marketed through. Not all of these will necessarily be under your control or even exist with your knowledge. How do you measure performance of marketing you do not even know about? Someone may for instance, refer to your website in a blog article they are writing or they may have left review in some forum or business directory that you are completely unaware of. Lastly of course, there is Google (and the other search engines), who in their effort to deliver better qualified search results will set certain rules that need to be applied to the content in your marketing streams.
So where does Call Tracking fit in?
Call tracking software offers us the opportunity of tracking which media source, campaign, Ad or even keyword generates the different in-calls to your business. Typically a business has a single phone number for all calls received, new business, existing customers, cold calls, family, suppliers etc. Some businesses are organised to the extent that they do ask new callers how they found them but the quality of such information is questionable in many cases. Sometimes the customer cannot remember or simply gets it wrong.
Whilst your website analytics reports can tell you about the nature of your visitors and the traffic patterns they generate, this really falls short in understanding those leads that are generated through phone calls you receive to your business. Understanding the effectiveness of different digital marketing initiatives and how each performs is important for businesses as this can very much dictate how you need to revise your marketing strategies and where more or less effort needs to be placed. For those businesses that rely on phone calls as part of their lead generation process, it is even more critical to understand where their customers are coming from.
What Call Tracking offers is yet another layer of data to help you better understand the ROI for each of your marketing strategies and initiatives. With data metrics, you can determine the ROI which then provides you with solid evidence supporting your performance analysis.
At the heart of Call Tracking is having a list of phone numbers that can be tracked back to the original in source. Digital technology offers a simple and powerful tool through Call Tracking that gives you what you need and more, offering flexible structures to your Call Tracking plans and versatile management reporting drawing on rich data sets that include:
- Time and duration of calls
- Intelligent call routing
- Call recording and playback
- Multiple dynamically allocated phone numbers
- Call type analysis
- Messaging services
- User portals for asset accessing reports and performing analysis
- Third-party integration with services such as Google analytics, Google AdWords and CRM's.
The Essentials for Call Tracking
Most importantly, you first need to develop a marketing strategy that embodies a plan for the implementation and rollout of Call Tracking into your business. In order to do this you need to understand firstly what it is you are going to measure. With this known, you then need to understand how you will use those metrics to improve business lead generation.
You also need to choose a Call Tracking solution that best suits your business. There is an extensive selection of Call Tracking service providers broadly offering much the same services. However, once you get down to the detail, the differences in the value of features offered alongside the cost of implementation vary to a significant degree and you must take the time to understand what each offers and the pricing implications of what is provided.
Most of the providers a US or EU based with a small handful of Australian providers to choose from. Depending on your own circumstances, it may be likely the U.S.-based provider offers a better choice on pricing due to the economies of scale. You will however need to take into consideration the additional costs of calls managed as most providers charge on time of call and the rates vary depending on the country you are in.
Implementing Call Tracking correctly
There have been concerns raised by some groups that Call Tracking can negatively impact Local SEO. Due to the importance of businesses to rank well in local SEO, one of the key factors you need to give attention to is you are ability to ensure consistent and NAP’s. Unfortunately, Call Tracking is not always implemented as it should have been which has led to inconsistent NAP’s being set for website owners.
What does this all mean? Your business has a number of listings in various business directories or social media platforms. In each of these you will have given your:
- Phone Number.
This is the NAP and it has to be consistent across all listings to gain any sort of ranking in local SEO.
Call tracking works on the basis of assigning a phone number to track. The best and most common practice followed is where these phone numbers are dynamically allocated to your business based on the marketing source. We refer to this as DNI (dynamic number insertion). If these dynamically allocated numbers are placed into your NAP then you will have inconsistencies. You can also use a pool of “static” numbers. Inconsistent NAP’s destroy your local SEO ranking so you need to pay close attention to how your Call Tracking is implemented, particularly in fact which it applies to your NAP’s.
What can I expect to pay?
This will depend on a number of factors largely relating to the size of your business, as this will affect a number of factors all of which come into play when looking at your bottom line investment required. Whatever the size of your business, the complexity of your marketing or your expectations, at the end of the day, the one question that you need to be able to answer is "what value can I attribute to having this information at hand". Once you understand what this information is worth, it makes it an easy decision for determining what you need to invest to get access to it.
Whilst entry solutions can start as low as $30-$50 per month Australian, you might find that with some of the services moving to the next level of the plan will cost you considerably more. Entry-level solutions may also not always be suitable for some larger businesses. Spend your time looking closely at the different plans and features offered by the various providers. Some of the variables that come into play and affect your pricing might include:
- the number of dynamic phone numbers you will require (this will be derived as a function of your visitor patterns available through Google Analytics – the more visitors per hour, the ore number you will require)
- The volume of traffic clicking on your ads and/or visiting your site from other sources
- Maximum visits in an hour
- Granularity of reporting you seek
- The average duration of calls received
- The features included
- Location of your service provider
- Does the provider have fixed term contracts
We will mention that Google offer a free Call Tracking service with DNI. The only proviso is that you must be running an active Adwords campaign to access this service for this site. As with anything free, there is always a catch with the most obvious being that you lose the service once you stop the Adword campaigns. The other is that the additional features provided by 3rd party providers such as CRM integration, call recording etc. can be of considerable benefit which is of course their point of distinction. Google Call Tracking is certainly worth considering and a great way to test the waters, particularly if you are running short-term campaigns.
Like to know more?
If you are interested to know more about Call Tracking or would like to discuss its applicability to your business, Top Left Designs can help you identify if this technology can deliver better information to assist you with generating more business leads.