PPC Marketers: You Must Track Phone Calls!

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If you’re a bit TOO digital in your orientation, you can forget or ignore the fact that a large amount of business is still done on the phone. I know I ignored this, at one point, in my digital enthusiasm. But different people and different generations prefer different communication channels. And consumer communication habits vary by vertical, by product, and by situation.

PPC Visitors May Call Your Client

When you run pay per click ads for companies that also get phone sales or leads, you may be generating business that doesn’t show in your AdWords reports. You want to make sure you claim all the success you’re responsible for. And that you know the PPC spend’s total ROI.

If the destination website displays a phone number prominently and you don’t track phone calls, that’s a hole in your ROI measurement. For that reason, we encourage our PPC clients to use call tracking.

Use Call Tracking to Track ALL Your PPC Results

The call tracking solution we use (in combination with onsite programming and the phone number in an AdWords destination URL parameter) ensures that callers who come from PPC use a specific phone number. The programming shows a phone number specific to the marketing channel. PPC visitors see one phone number and other visitors see another.

Call Tracking Benefits Beyond PPC ROI

  • Call Tracking Numbers: Dynamic VoIP telephone number in each advertising source to generate detailed reports. Track each channel separately. Find out which marketing channels work best.
  • Real-Time Reporting: Web reports that reveal ad source, date, time, duration and callers’ phone numbers.
  • Daily Leads via Email: Reports calls answered and missed. Recapture missed calls and recover lost leads.
  • Recorded Call Analysis: Digitally records and indexes calls for easy retrieval and review. Some of our clients have found value in reviewing their calls to find and fix customer service issues. They can make sure their call center people aren’t getting in the way of the sale.
  • Caller Demographics: Census data by Zip Code helps you target specific markets.
  • Data Appending: Provides names and addresses for about 60 percent of all callers. That means anyone who calls can become part of your direct mailing lists.

Phone Call ROI Can Be Huge

For one hotel client in Jan 2008 we generated 996 sales via AdWords. Call tracking told us we got another 498 bookings via phone. That’s 50% more bookings than shown in PPC reports alone. The total revenue tracked by AdWords was upwards of $900k. Phone calls brought in about another 35%, or $336k.

I’m certain that the phone plays a big role in hospitality marketing, and I’m sure it does in other industries as well. Lead generation campaigns for complicated products also can generate a lot of phone responses.

Don’t miss out on tracking this component of your marketing!

Brian Carter is the Director of Search Engine Marketing for Fuel Interactive, an interactive marketing agency in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He is responsible for the SEO, PPC, SMM, and ORM programs at Fuel and its partner traditional agency Brandon Advertising & PR.

Brian Carter
Brian is author of The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money With Facebook and Facebook Marketing: Leveraging Facebook's Features For Your Marketing Campaigns, How to... Read Full Bio
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  • Great Post!

    I work in senior living, our web site does great in lead generation via our web form. We receive a high call volume at our properties but we are unable to track them via phone recording because of legal reasons. You are 100% correct that it would help to track fROI and in some ways would be a better way to check the viability of a lead but unfortunatly there are some things that you can’t control.

  • Sam

    Great (selling) point about the call center or the client’s own staff blowing a good lead.

    It’s insane that an agency would even try to manage a PPC campaign without tracking phone calls. This can work just as well for SEO purposes, especially if the client wants to know just how effective that $300/yr directory listing really is….

    Eric: there are options for call tracking that don’t include phone recording. In fact, they’re cheaper – I’d look into it if I were you.

  • My company can provide call tracking without recording (tracking to the key word or affiliate id.) In addition, we have our own ad network where we can drive your clients (and they only pay for) phone leads. Give me a call if you see an opportunity to work together.

    Sean (510-315-9455)

  • Thanks Sam – I will look into it. But without being able to record the calls, how do you know if the phone call turned into a lead (or whatever you consider a conversion). Sure I can look at a call log and see how many people called but I still don’t know how many were actual leads

  • Great article, thanks Brian, I enjoyed the read.

    @ Eric: With a call tracking system you should be able to enter or log information about the call once the caller hangs up. AdInsight (www.adinsight.eu) does this using a touch tone service at the end of the call, so you can log any relevant data.

  • Great article Brian and I couldn’t agree more.

    One company that specializes in call tracking is ClickPath (www.clickpath.com). They do all of what Ross, Eric, and Sean were discussing above (Track all calls to keyword level, Record calls, and can tell you what the outcome of every call is).

  • We use a new system called ROIVista.com – Very happy with our trial with them so far. In fact, they do a couple of things quite unique and very helpful to our design team.

  • Great article. My company specialized in call tracking, call recording, reports, emails for missed calls, but more importantly we have a ListenCenter technology employing over 80 people that listen to the call and report back to the owner the disposition of the call within 20 minutes of the call ending on their end. Any lost opportunity is immediately emailed to the personnel assigned with all the customer detail to include a link to the recording of the call. We found needing the Listen Center technology because after many years of tracking and recording calls we find most owners do not have the time to review each recording on a timely basis thus saving a revenue opportunity otherwise lost. Our system tracks and records calls in real time reporting in near time and also gives you booking conversion rate over the phone. For a no obligation demo contact me at susy.boyter@telecapture.com.

    Also visit http://www.callsurance.com and http://www.callcap.com

    follow me on twitter @susytelecapture

  • For a no-frills approach to tracking calls received via adsense, check out the tutorial here:


  • Brian, I couldn’t agree more. I would say that anyone that is doing SEM for a service-based or local company HAS TO HAVE call tracking.

    Based on our clients, we have a 2:1 call:online signup ratio of leads generated, so without call tracking we were showing a 66% decrease in effectiveness!!

    Our current goal is to find a way to tie call tracking directly into adwords, so we can see phone calls as conversions. If anyone knows of a system that can do this, let me know!

  • Wayne

    Great article. We use a company called KeyMetric to track phone calls back to the exact keyword and search query that was used by our visitors. 80% of our leads are phone calls so it is a critical piece. We tried some other tools (some mentioned here) and none of them give us the deep data we get from KM. They also track all our online conversions and leads.

  • Thank you guys so much. I just picked off 7 different potential services to look at.

    I just recently began tracking my leadsource on the PPC landing page forms and I’ve discovered that in the last 2 months my PPC traffic has converted at ZERO! The only missing factor that could be skewing the data is that as a personal training company, we do get tons of phone calls since it is an expensive and very personal service. I can’t believe I waited so long to do this.

  • We have used many call tracking and measurement company’s over the years and are now using KeyMetric (www.keymetric.net) and they blow away anyone else on the market with the date they provide – in real-time.

  • Very informative post. I wish there were more blogs about all the benefits of call tracking. I would agree that it would benefit anyone that is doing SEM for a service-based or local company to at least look at call tracking. I work for Ifbyphone and it’s one of our favorite services to sell.

    For More Call Tracking Information

  • Very informative post. I wish there were more blogs about all the benefits of call tracking. I would agree that it would benefit anyone that is doing SEM for a service-based or local company to at least look at call tracking. I work for Ifbyphone and it’s one of our favorite services to sell.

  • Hi,

    This is a great post, our product http://www.switchboardfree.co.uk has for many years offered multiple free numbers to customers so that they can track different ad campaigns. We have now taken this a step further and integrated our product with Google Analytics. This allows our customers to track their offline ad campaigns along with web statistics even breaking it down into the geographic location of the caller.

  • There are quite a few companies that offer keyword-to-phone call level tracking such as: ClickPath (Who’s Calling), KeyMetric, Mongoose Metrics, AvidTrak and IfByPhone. Mongoose Metrics, IfByPhone and AvidTrak’s product is integrated with Google Analytics which means you can receive your keyword conversion data directly within Analytics. Additionally AvidTrak offers a PPC bid management tool that is integrated with its keyword-to-call tracking technology. This allows you to simply set the value of your phone call and and the bid tool optimizes the ad spend to generate the maximum number of phone calls.

  • Tracking a phone call is a good idea, especially if you are a business man. This is really an informative one. thanks

  • Tracking a phone call is a good idea, especially if you are a business man. This is really an informative one. thanks

  • Tracking of phone calls is something thats growing within the hospitality business – I see this more and more on Restaurant websites and the ROI must be growing by the day. Sipping cappuccino and reading this has given me a lot of food for thought!!