“Businesses are often wrong about their website’s ability to convert traffic into leads and overall ROI… usually because phone calls which came as the result of a website visit were never tracked.”

Today’s marketing tools are more diverse and complex than ever before. Businesses can leverage a variety of marketing methods in order to generate inbound leads and conversions. So how can you determine which marketing platform is the most effective? Which of the many options will give you the best return on investment (ROI)?

Most marketing agencies and their clients who market online are already using an array of analytics tools in order to keep track of the performance of their site. While this data can give you thorough, actionable insight, it cannot define exactly how successful your marketing efforts are because most tools do not evaluate or track phone leads which are an especially critical component to how many small businesses generate leads. Therefore these tools cannot provide you with a true picture of the leads being generated from your website and other online marketing channels such as online directories and social media.

How Does Call Tracking Work?

If you’re not using call tracking, you’re missing out on a major piece of marketing data that can significantly improve your ability to measure your true marketing ROI. Call tracking enables you to track any phone lead that comes in from any marketing platform.

In it’s simplest form, call tracking allows you to designate specific phone numbers for certain types of traffic so that you can easily identify where the lead originated from. For example, it’s not uncommon for a business to use a call tracking number for Organic Search, Paid Search, Social Media, Online Directory listings, as well as print ads or listings. Each marketing channel receives a unique phone number and when that number is dialed the call is marked as a lead for that channel.

While going out and purchasing 5-10 different phone numbers to do this seems costly, you don’t have to. There are call tracking services that handle this for you for a very affordable price. Each number you designate for call tracking simply forwards to your real office number so you will never have to worry about answering multiple phone lines to receive leads. Call tracking services also provide a useful analytical platform for you to see all calls received from all tracking numbers. For example, we use Call Rail for our customers and our own marketing channels. This platforms allows us to create specific “Tags” for each type of call which makes it easy to identify which calls were leads, versus which were not. We can even “score” leads to help us also determine which marketing channel is producing better conversions.

Call tracking can get extremely complex too. For example, by coordinating your call tracking efforts with your website designer, you can insert “dynamic” phone numbers into your website. So if for example a lead gets to your website through a Google search, when they enter the website, your phone number will automatically change to the number you’ve designated for Google Search Call Tracking. Pretty neat huh?

Integrating unique call tracking numbers into your marketing plan for all marketing channels, allows you to understand which channels are producing the best leads and quality traffic to your website.

What Marketing Channels Work Best With Call Tracking?

You can use call tracking to track data from inbound phone calls you receive for any marketing channel either online or offline. Here are some common channels that work best with call tracking:

  • Pay per click advertising (PPC)
  • Organic Search & Local Search
  • Social Media
  • Online Directories such as Yellow Pages, Yelp, etc.
  • Print Advertisements or Listings
  • Television Advertisement
  • Billboard Advertising
  • Direct Mail Marketing
  • Email marketing

Utilizing a different phone number for each campaign or marketing channel gives you an amazing amount of insight on your ROI for all marketing efforts, which helps you close the inbound marketing loop by giving you insight even into those efforts outside of your website.

What Information Does Call Tracking Provide?

Call tracking metrics provide a lot more information than just how many calls are coming in per marketing channel. These metrics will give you detailed information that will help you optimize your marketing efforts and increase your ROI. For example, if you spend a lot of your marketing budget on radio commercials to generate leads, you can use call tracking to determine which radio stations and marketing campaigns get the most calls and which ones are not as effective. This will allow you to get rid of any stations that do not give you any clients and only focus on the ones that do. The same could be said for a print ad you run in multiple directories or different billboards around town.

Most call tracking services can tell you:

  • Who is calling
  • Their phone number (unless blocked)
  • Where they are calling from (also available unless blocked)
  • Where they found your phone number (tracking source)
  • If they are a first time caller or repeat caller
  • The time spent speaking with the caller
  • Other campaign details such as keyword searched or ad clicked that generated the call

Call Tracking & Website Tracking for Offline Marketing Channels

I’m about to dig a bit deeper and get a little technical. If that’s not your cup of tea, skip ahead to learn more about what type of Call Metrics you should be tracking.

“In some ways call tracking can be the most powerful marketing metric of all.”

This is especially true for more traditional advertising such as print ads and billboards which are both perfect examples. If using call tracking in your print advertising, you will know which billboard ad is generating the most calls or which print ad is most effective. Every ad can have a unique phone number if you plan to get extremely granular in this approach and this is highly recommended if understanding not only which marketing channel is performing best but which specific ad, campaign, or physical location as well. For example, if you run three billboards in town and want to know which location is performing better you can use three different phone numbers to help identify which billboard generated the lead.

Another example, if you use a different phone number for every social network, you will not only understand how well social media performs overall but also how successful a particular network might be when compared to others. When looking at my own marketing data, its interesting that nearly 60% of our social activity happens on Twitter but the majority of our converted leads come through LinkedIn. That helps us understand our connections on LinkedIn are proving to be a more valuable marketing channel for us to invest in. Call tracking helps further clarify the power of each social network since some conversions occur through phone calls, and not just website visits.

If you track only website visits and not also measure call traffic generated from print advertising the results can be misleading. This is especially true because most businesses would simply advertise their main website address in the ad and not use a tracking URL. Therefore all website traffic generated from these print ads would wind up on the home page and you would have no clue how the visitor got there. The only way to measure print ad traffic to the website would be to create a unique landing page or tracking parameter in the URL for those visitors such as mywebsite.com/print-ad-01 or mywebsite.com/?utm_source=local&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=gmb. Traffic that hits this page could then be marked as a conversion or segmented to learn more about what these specific visitors are doing on the website. This is not entirely different from how call tracking works, it simply takes things one step further. Best case scenario, for print advertising you use both a unique website URL and a unique phone number so that you can track visitors generated from the ad as well as phone calls.

If you haven’t been leveraging this type of data you’ve never been able to truly optimize your marketing efforts or get a clear picture of ROI. Most business owners can appreciate the value of marketing data because it helps them determine the best course of action moving forward. Marketing data is no different when collected properly, but you must close the inbound marketing loop if you ever hope to base decisions on the whole picture.

What Call Tracking Metrics Are Most Important?

The following are some of the most important call tracking metrics you should be collecting in order to get the most out of your marketing plan when integrating call tracking:

  • Number of incoming calls: At the most basic level, call tracking keeps records of the number of phone calls you receive, eliminating the need for your employees to manually record this data. Call tracking providers often offer reports that you can download to view call patterns, which you can analyze to better understand your ROI.
  • Length of calls: Each call may vary in value. Some calls will be better leads than others. Usually, the longer the phone call lasts, the more likely it is that it will turn into a quality lead. At the end of the day, why would a prospect spend their time talking to your representatives if they weren’t interested in your services? Call tracking reports will allow you to determine what marketing campaigns, keywords, landing pages, and advertisements generated the most promising leads. Some providers even let you weed out or ignore phone calls that are too short to generate a viable lead. Over time you will be able to determine how long a call typically is that generates a qualified lead. For example, a client of ours found that 60 second phone calls were not enough time to qualify leads but 180 seconds was the right mix.
  • Landing page performance: Landing pages usually present visitors with two different options when visiting your site. They can call you or they can fill out a contact form so that you can contact them. Without the use of call tracking, you will only be able to collect data and record conversions based on how many contact forms have been filled out. Without tracking calls your conversion rate may be 2-3x lower than it actually is. Call tracking enables you to get an accurate measure of the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Call tracking metrics give you the data you need to evaluate your landing page performance by showing you which pages:
    • Generate the most inbound calls
    • Generate the most high-quality leads
    • Get the best call conversion rate
    • Bring in the newest customers
  • Tracking Conversions: Call tracking metrics can help you measure the number of conversions you get from each marketing campaign and channel.  For some businesses, it is a rarity for the first phone call to convert a prospect into a client. This can take weeks, months, or even years in some cases. Call tracking can help track leads which became clients all the way back to their original call, allowing you to determine which platform is generating not only leads, but actual paying clients. This data will also give you a better insight into the length of your average sales cycle as well as trends such as behavior, seasonal, locale, services needed, and much more.
  • Cost/lead: Do you know how much you are spending to generate a lead? If you’re spending $2,000 a week on your email marketing campaign and you generate about 100 leads, then you are spending $20 per lead. If you’re spending $500 weekly on a radio ad and it generates 100 leads, then you are spending only $5 a lead. This is information that is necessary for you to determine where you should allocate your marketing resources. Injecting your call traffic into your marketing data will help you get a full picture of how much you spend to acquire a lead from any marketing campaign or marketing channel.

Wrap Up

Now that you are aware of how call tracking closes the inbound marketing loop, be sure to choose a call tracking provider that is reputable. Your call tracking provider should give you the ability to control how the incoming data is organized or deciphered so that it is of great use to your business.

I work with many small businesses and I often find that many owners are hesitant to implement call tracking. The #1 cause of concern seems to be that they have a deep, intimate connection with their phone number and the thought of not prominently displaying it on every piece of marketing is scary. To many business owners see their phone number as a piece of their identity and their branding. However, two key arguments you must consider if you feel the slightest bit hesitant to use call tracking.

  1. The internet is a virtual Rolodex. Today, when someone needs a phone number, its more likely they will do a quick search on Google or visit your website to grab the phone number. Alternatively, if someone does take the time to program a phone number into their cell phone they will often search for the contact by name, not by phone number. The third and extremely unlikely action would be an individual dialing the number by memory. Phone numbers used to be ingrained in our long-term memory because we manually dialed them over and over again. Ask many people what their phone number was 20 or 30 years ago and chances are they might remember. But today both the internet and our cell phones do the remembering for us, so we we don’t have to.A British study done in 2014, actually reported that 50% of the population could only remember three phone numbers because they were so reliant on storing numbers into their mobile phones. It’s likely the statistics are similar here in the US as well. And, if that’s true, do you really think your phone number would be one of the three a client might remember?
  2. Closing the marketing loop is the only way to measure true ROI. If you don’t track calls you can never understand or measure your marketing efforts accurately. For example, one attorney client of ours was looking only at website conversions when determining the effectiveness of SEO. He was converting around 2% of his website traffic which is pretty typical. However, he failed to also measure call tracking which put his overall conversions at nearly 9%! This brought the cost per lead to a fraction of what he thought it was. Dialogtech, a call tracking service provider released a Law Firm Call Tracking Study which shows a 400% Higher ROI by using call tracking software.

Call tracking fills in ROI shortcomings and helps define how your website or other marketing efforts are performing. Small businesses are unique today because they still receive a great number of phone calls from prospects.

If you are considering call tracking for your business, we can help. Contact Us today to discuss any of your call tracking, advertising, or marketing needs. I would love the opportunity to help!

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci is the CEO of Vinci Digital with over 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising. He partners with mid-size, established businesses as a growth and scalability consultant and strategic branding advisor as well as offering a full-suite of agency services. Gerald calls Carmel, CA home with his wife Safira and two children. He has co-authored two books, and is working on his own upcoming book titled, “Small Business Pricing Mastery – Creating effective pricing and defining value for today’s products and services.”