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How Call Tracking Reveals Marketing Opportunities

Alternative call tracking method...

Alternative call tracking method…

Digital marketing has a ton of potent tools at its disposal, from analytics to social media to PPC ads and remarketing cookies. But there’s one game-changing tool invented 140 years ago that a lot of businesses leave off the table…

The telephone.

Phone Calls Still Drive Business

When understanding which marketing channels convert the most leads, you often look to analytics for goal tracking. But while this is great for measuring button clicks, sign ups, and contact form completions, it doesn’t account for those that decide to pick up the phone and call you directly.

Depending on your business, phone calls could be responsible for the majority of your leads. If the source of these calls is untracked, then your analytics data is irrelevant and you have no way of knowing if you’re spending your resources wisely.

How Does Call Tracking Work?

By associating different numbers with different marketing channels (e.g. organic search, ppc, social media, specific referral sources, etc.), you can then track which channel accounts for which calls.

A code is placed on the backend of your website to change the phone number displayed to a visitor depending on which channel he came from. When a call is placed to that number, it automatically forwards to your main line, but is logged in the tracking system and credited to that particular marketing channel.

Call Tracking Examples

For a more concrete example of how this would work, we can think about a hypothetical dog grooming business that needs to understand where its calls are coming from.

Classy Canines needs to figure out where to focus more of their marketing budget. They realize that they get more phone calls than online bookings, so the conversion attributions in their analytics account only represent a small fraction of their actual business.

They create three unique forwarding numbers—one associated with their AdWords campaigns, one associated with their social media promotions on Twitter, and a third with a popular referral source, in this case a “best-of” article from the local paper.

After a couple of month’s, they realize that the majority of their calls are attributed to their AdWords campaigns, with a smattering from Twitter promos and none at all from the online newspaper’s referral.

This allows them to raise their budget on AdWords, refocus and prune their social media attention, and virtually ignore any PR efforts done through local newspapers.

Last-Click Attribution

Some might read the above paragraph and think Classy Canines is making a hasty decision cutting their PR budget. And this is something to keep in mind—call tracking ultimately tells you where your converted lead is coming from, but it CAN’T tell you the longer story of their exposure to your brand or how they heard about you in the first place. Perhaps someone saw the article in the paper, and then with that knowledge, Googled the company name a few days later, clicking on the AdWords link to arrange a visit.

This, however, is something to keep in mind with any last-click attribution model, and it’s not entirely unique to call-tracking.

Keyword-level Call Tracking

Revisiting the marketing exploits of Classy Canines, we can imagine now that they’ve been putting a lot of money into their AdWords campaign. It would make sense that they’d want to optimize it even further to get the most bang for their buck.

Call-tracking can help again, drilling down even deeper by attributing phone calls to the specific keyword phrases the caller searched with to see the ad. Imagine if Classy Canines could then discover that they get the most calls from people after they search for “dog grooming” and not many from “pet care”? This way, they can refine their AdWords campaign by redistributing budgets, improving ads, and seeing an overall increase in ROI.

Call Tracking for Offline Sources

One of the coolest things about call-tracking is that it isn’t limited to the digital space. Since each unique number is tied to a specific source, you could associate a number with an offline campaign, like print ads, mailers, or even billboards. If anyone calls you using that unique number printed on these marketing materials, you’ll know exactly how effective these more traditional campaigns are.

Many Call Tracking Services

There are many services that offer call tracking. Below are a few of the best options:

No matter which option you choose, if your company relies on phone calls at all to drive any kind of new business, then you should take advantage of the deep marketing insights call tracking provides.


Sam Mock

Sam Mock is the Content Director at Chicago Style SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm. He can't wait for the day when writers unite to storm the gates of Google and gorge themselves on Cheez-Its in the break room. Connect with him on , and Twitter.

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