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Paid Search 101

6 Answers to Your Burning Call Tracking Questions

Author Note: Every time we publish an article on Search Engine Journal, we receive emails from marketers asking questions about the nuts and bolts of call tracking. This article is an effort to answer the most common questions we receive about call tracking, call tracking implementation, and use-cases.

How is Call Tracking Used to Measure PPC/Organic Search?

Various studies  indicate that marketers are missing out on 30 percent or more of their AdWords generated revenue if they don’t use call tracking. Callers are 10 time more likely to buy than web leads. Thus, even if only one person calls your company for every 10 that fill out a form, that one caller will produce the revenue 10 web leads produce.

Long story short: if you’re not tracking phone calls from your PPC efforts, you’re not getting credit for all the work you’re doing.

In terms of call tracking implementation, some marketers track PPC at a very macro-level. They have one call tracking number that is dynamically generated whenever anyone clicks through from any PPC ad. This allows the marketer to analyze PPC calls vs. organic calls vs. direct mail vs. anything else.

Other marketers (this is the majority) get much more granular. They’ll have a different phone number associated with every AdWords campaign or keyword group. They’ll have various numbers associated with different search engines. They’ll even use session-based call tracking to analyze the precise keywords that paid search visitors used before visiting the site. (That used to work for organic keywords as well…but not after Google’s Not Provided edict).

Does Call Tracking Hurt SEO?

This has been one of the hottest topics in local search for the last several years. And, fortunately, it appears the fog is finally clearing on this issue.

Here’s the short answer: NO. Call tracking does not harm SEO if it is implemented correctly.

The reason many marketers think call tracking hurts SEO is because of (NAP) name, address, phone number. Google demands that NAP remain consistent across all web properties. Call tracking numbers should not be used in online directories, business listings, or places like Google+ Local. For instance, posting a phone number on a business listing that is different from the phone number on a website confuses NAP and could harm SEO. This is an incorrect way to use call tracking. (Though, some marketers still use call tracking on directories because they value the metrics. We don’t advise this).

There are several correct ways to use call tracking that do not hurt SEO. The most obvious, and most common, is to use Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) on websites, landing pages, and other web properties. This involves inserting a snippet of Javascript in the site’s header (or wherever the phone number appears). This allows unique call tracking phone numbers to instantaneously appear dependent on the source of the web visit. For example, someone visiting the page after a Google organic search would see a different phone number than someone visiting the page after clicking through from a PPC ad. This allows call tracking tools to determine with 100 percent accuracy which ads, campaigns, and keywords generate phone calls.

And it doesn’t harm SEO. Even the most ardent call tracking critics openly admit this.

This technique is, after all, the same technique that A/B testing tools, dynamic content tools, and even marketing automation tools use to dynamically generate things on a website. They use a snippet of Javascript to temporarily and instantaneously generate an element of the website. It simply doesn’t hurt SEO. Your ‘real’ phone number remains hard-coded in the site.

We have written several articles about this subject:

Why Do Marketers Use Call Tracking?

Marketers use call tracking because they want to close the loop on their marketing spend. If marketers aren’t using call tracking they’re not getting credit for a portion of the work they’re doing. For example, agencies that don’t provide call tracking data to their clients are leaving themselves open to criticism. Why? Because, for many businesses–particularly local businesses–a call is the predominant lead channel. In fact, 64% of local businesses say calls are the best leads they receive.

And yet, despite the power of phone calls,  some agencies insist upon touting ONLY the web traffic they generate.

And local businesses aren’t the only ones that care about phone calls. One technology company we work with says that 30% of their new accounts each month are generated from phone calls, NOT web leads. If the marketing department at this company wasn’t using call tracking to analyze that data, they would not be getting credit for 30 percent of the revenue they generate.

How Do Agencies Use Call Tracking?

Agencies value call tracking because it provides client stickiness. It helps agencies acquire and retain clients.

Agencies are able to sit down with a potential client and show them call tracking data for their industry, or similar industries. The agencies we work with tell us that this is one of the most valuable ways they use call tracking. They’re able to provide accurate data about the number of calls a potential client can expect to receive on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis. Prospective clients are impressed with the data. They’re also impressed when the agency tells them that they (the client) can log in to their very own White Labeled call tracking portal and look at the data themselves.

And if an agency has a dissatisfied client, very often call tracking data can keep that client from leaving. If an agency is able to provide data about the number of calls that PPC campaigns, organic search traffic, and other local marketing tactics have generated, the client will think twice about leaving. We have agency partners that save 8-10 clients each month simply because they’re able to provide concrete call tracking data.

Because the cost of call tracking is so minimal for agencies (just a few bucks per number with everything included), many agencies just eat the cost because of the benefit they receive from the data (client acquisition and client retention). Other agencies, on the other hand, roll the cost into their offerings–either making call tracking a billed line item or just including it in the packages they offer.

How Are All the Call Tracking Companies Different?

conversation analytics laptop 1 6 Answers to Your Burning Call Tracking Questions

Screenshot taken 1/15/2014 of www.logmycalls.com

Every call tracking company has its strengths and weaknesses. Some have very strong telephony functionality, others specialize in AdWords and pay-per-call. Our service, LogMyCalls, specializes in analyzing call conversations themselves. Our Conversation Analytics tool mines call conversations–the words and phrases said on the call–and then extracts data like lead score, sales performance, buying propensity, sales readiness, and pricing sensitivity. It can even determine if an appointment was set on the call, if a sale was made on the call, or if the caller got agitated.

Regular call tracking simply can’t provide this data. 

If you’re evaluating call tracking companies it is important to know exactly what functionality is important to you.

What’s The Implementation Process/Timeline for Call Tracking?

Numbers can be set up within 1 to 2 minutes. Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) takes a few minutes of Javascript work. Templates and a Javascript generator are available on our site. Setting up automated phone lead scoring, appointment tracking, and sales analytics takes 15 – 30 minutes.

The most challenging aspect of call tracking setup is often deciding exactly what you want to track. For example, do you want to track advanced analytics like new appointments and new sales, or just regular old call tracking?  And, for agencies, it’s determining how you want to structure it. In other words, what information, reports, and data do you want your clients to have access to? The answer to those questions will help determine how long implementation takes.

Conclusion

Marketers use call tracking to close the loop on their marketing. They simply aren’t getting credit for all the leads they produce if they don’t use call tracking. The most exciting thing about call tracking is how simple it is to implement. Marketers can get data from a call tracking tool and have that data integrated into their other systems and processes quickly and easily.

Marketers that get more data, make more money. Call tracking is a critical component of that effort.

 6 Answers to Your Burning Call Tracking Questions

McKay Allen

Inbound Marketing Manager at LogMyCalls
McKay Allen is the Inbound Marketing Manager at LogMyCalls. He has spoken at SMX, Social Media Strategies Summit and elsewhere. He hosts a weekly webinar series where he has interviewed over 100 marketing experts. Download his most recent White Paper 5 Ways to Prove Marketing ROI with Call Tracking
 6 Answers to Your Burning Call Tracking Questions
 6 Answers to Your Burning Call Tracking Questions

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2 thoughts on “6 Answers to Your Burning Call Tracking Questions

  1. Call tracking is a very important element of a successful online marketing campaign. Knowing where leads come from and how many have been generated is just as important as knowing how much traffic your business website has, or how many successful clicks a particular advertisement has garnered.