An SEO Beginner Guide: What is Call Tracking and Why Should I Care?

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what is call tracking

Most businesses and marketers measure success based upon a series of digital analytics, such as organic visits, page views and obviously, goal conversions.

I’m not saying this is the wrong thing to do – far from it – but you might be severely underestimating your leads and inquires. It’s safe to say we spend the most part of our day on the internet, but not all business is scored online. Many people still pick up the phone, and usually this is major source of new leads.

Until recently, it has been almost impossible to know where your telephone inquires have come from. And that’s been a big headache for anyone wanting to know how effective their marketing has been.

The latest call tracking software can tell you which of your marketing efforts are successfully generating calls, and which are failing. Call tracking is also a great companion for your SEO, so let’s take a look at the benefits.

How do you track your inbound calls?

Let’s say your business has a telephone number. I’m sure it does. It’s probably plastered on your website, in magazines, in your Google AdWords campaigns – it may even appear on billboard ads.

But how do you know which of these marketing methods are generating the calls to your business? How are you tracking conversions? In case you don’t already know, here’s how call tracking works.

Let’s take a look at an example problem.

I’ve noticed a damp patch in my home. I don’t want it to get any worse so I’ll see if I can get an expert in right away.

I type a Google search using the keywords “damp problems”.

damp problems

I spot Dr Damp, the first one with a phone number. He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about:

dr damp

I call him on the listed number and he’s able to come out to fix my damp problem by the end of the week. Looks like damp problems won’t put a dampener on my year (sorry about the pun)!

But, the same can’t be said for Dr Damp. Look carefully again at his advert. I called him from the ad but I didn’t click on it, so he has no way of knowing how I discovered his business. As a result, he may think his AdWords campaigns aren’t working well. He may even decide to cancel them.

This would be a mistake, because the ads are profitable. He’s making use of AdWords extensions which is good practice, but he isn’t able to see the full ROI if he’s not combining call and conversion tracking for pay per click.

Yet there is a way for Dr Damp to measure and track his marketing.

It’s called call tracking. The concept is simple. You create and track a different telephone number for each of your campaigns. The call tracking software records the number of calls you receive, and you get a genuine view on how your campaigns are working.

What does call tracking do?

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of how call tracking software helps you create and track multiple phone numbers.

For example, let’s imagine that Dr Damp is running three marketing campaigns for his site.

  • He’s running an online pay per click campaign that is driving traffic to his website
  • He has paid for an advert in his local newspaper.
  • And he’s also advertising on the side of local buses.

By setting up call tracking he can compare enquiries from all three channels. Here are his completely fictional results from the past month:

CampaignCostNumber of enquiries
Pay per click advertising£1,50010
Local newspaper£1,0002
Side of the bus campaign£2,0000

Call tracking data allows him to see which campaigns are generating conversions. He can even see the time and date of the call; More importantly, he can track the return on investment (ROI) of each marketing channel.

It’s clear from the table that the side-of-the-bus advertising hasn’t been working well for Dr Damp. In future, he might want to stop advertising on buses and redirect his spent into pay-per-click advertising instead. He’ll probably generate a lot more enquiries.

What are the benefits of call tracking?

With call tracking you can monitor which areas of your marketing – digital and offline – are performing well and which areas need improvement.

Here are the areas that call tracking works well for:

  • Organic search engine traffic: you’ll be able to determine which landing pages are generating calls to your business.
  • Pay per click campaigns: you can see which keywords work best.
  • Digital advertising campaigns: By using a different telephone number on each ad you run, it’s possible to see which display adverts perform best, too.

Alongside this data collation, you’ll be able to listen in on calls, providing you with real insight into your company’s customer service. This will highlight improvements that your sales team can make when handling inbound calls.

Let’s look at a real example of call tracking in action.

Tracking telephone inquires can save you money

One of Receptional’s clients, Mediahawk, a call tracking software specialist, outline in their Legal Marketers Guide to Analytics how they helped a law firm identify which area of their marketing was actually generating the most leads. And it wasn’t where they were focusing the main bulk of their budget.

Within a month, data from a communications audit revealed that 98% of the firm’s telephone inquiries had been generated through the company’s tracked website, whereas the six newspaper ads with their own unique telephone numbers  had generated only 1% of telephone calls.

In this instance, call tracking was able to provide accurate data about the legal firm’s marketing efforts. It showed that the law firm was wasting budget upon expensive print advertising which was failing to generate any inquiries.

Unfortunately, many sectors, not just the legal sector, are neglecting to monitor all of their marketing channels, causing them to miss out on leads. The tools and marketing metrics that call tracking offers is simply something that businesses shouldn’t ignore.

Call tracking shapes the bigger picture on ROI

Data is only helpful if you’re putting it into action, of course.

Call tracking allows you to fill in the gaps of your lead generation. For most businesses, they’re goal conversion rate is generated by Google Analytics and this isn’t a fair comparison if conversions are coming from telephone inquiries.

If you know where exactly conversions originated, you can accurately measure your ROI – and ultimately this is going to help streamline your budget.

Zoe-Lee Skelton

Zoe-Lee Skelton

SEO Content Marketing Consultant at Receptional
Zoe-Lee Skelton is an SEO Content Marketing Consultant at Receptional, blogging about content marketing, SEO, website best practices and compiling content marketing strategies for clients. In her spare time Zoe-Lee continues to develop her artwork. Feel free to connect with me to talk about art and all things digital!
Zoe-Lee Skelton
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  • Jackie Danielson

    Awesome article, Zoe-Lee! All of your points are ones we’ve been preaching at Century Interactive for years. For many businesses, phone calls are the MOST important type of conversion.

    • Zoe-Lee Skelton

      Thanks Jackie! I agree. I think today people are so wrapped up in the digital world they forget that people often prefer more direct lines of communication – like the telephone!

  • iDev

    I like the post. This is the thing what beginners knows first instead of the steps of seo and other seo regarding techniques. through this all the way beginners is have a good grip on what he/she want to do in the particular sector.

  • sharma

    For many businesses, phone calls are the MOST important type of conversion.these tips dshould be kept in mind when doing marketing for your busineess…great tips…!!

    • Zoe-Lee Skelton

      Thanks Sharma. It’s all to easy to neglect to tally your telephone inquiries. For some businesses, if they tracked this area of their marketing, they could see their conversion rates change dramatically.

  • Aaron

    Great article, but list 2-3 recommended providers, this is what the readers want next 😉

    • Zoe-Lee Skelton

      Hey Aaron. Good point! I mentioned Mediahawk in my article. Their software is easy to install, records the very granular and important details of a phone call and they have a great customer service team.

      I also mentioned their Legal Marketers Guide to Analytics ebook which lists the essential metrics to track for niche industries. You can find it here:

  • Anne

    Exactly what online merchants should prioritize. The bottom line of all online marketing campaigns is conversion and conversion will be properly tracked if mechanisms like call tracking are put in place. This is one surefire way of putting the question: “which is more effective SEO of PPC ? ” to rest.

  • Stephanie Riggs

    The Call tracking system is not only helpful to know the suggestions and opinions of your customers but also leads to good customer care. I noticed some organizations which don’t have good check over call tracking and don’t have direct connection with customers which cause bad impression as well as ran away the customers. For better search engine ranking and business standing this call tracking system is very helpful. Zoo-Lee, I am agree with your statements to employ this system in business 🙂

  • Priyanka

    In the field of Internet marketing or SEO, SEO Content Writer plays a vital role. The SEO executive uses content as weapon to win over search engines. Without weapon nobody could win to stand for a min.

  • Nicholas Gomez

    Thanks Zoe-Lee Skelton, have been looking more into this. As consumers in my retail tire industry start online most finish with a phone call and keying in on words they use could help me research what channels there info is from.