PPC Chat Streamcap – Phone Call Tracking in PPC

This week James Svoboda (@Realicity) and Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) co-host a question set titled “Phone Call Tracking in PPC.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Aside from Google’s reporting, how do you track the authenticity of call metrics and mobile click to calls?

  • We use Marchex which lists and records the calls. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
    • I use Marchex as well. I like their simplicity.- John Lavin (@Johnnyjetfan)
    • Ditto … Although I’m not a fan. – Cassie Allinger (@_CassieLee_)
      • Would love to hear more on why you are not a fan. Limitations? Inaccurate data? – Jessica Cameron Rudd (@camruud)
        • It has more to do w/ the interface than the data. #UX is pretty poor. – Cassie Allinger
  • Phone number specific to paid accounts. All calls coming in on that line are attributed to paid. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • IfByPhone, Marchex, ClickPath, proprietary client systems – all record minutes, call volume to confirm with AdWords. – Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
    • Do you have a provider/solution that you favor a little more? – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Not referring to AdWords Extension- We use a 3rd party for call tracking and measure length & inbound call location for quality. – James Svoboda
  • Dynamic phone number insertions can help track all campaigns, including PPC. – John Ellis (@JohnWEllis)
    • Dymanic as in random, or as in unique by segment? – James Svoboda
  • We also use an outside provider which lists and records the calls integrated within our platform. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • We have a proprietary system and use our client systems. – Claire Remmetter (@cremmetter)
  • We can track calls…. 🙂 MyNextCustomer.com – MyNextCustomer (@MyNextCustomer)
    • I have used MyNextCustomer to track. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Depends on clients system of choice, but we’ll have them keep track of call quality by source, call accuracy. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Client internal tracking, dedicated lines, etc. Depends on the client. Google’s metrics are weird. I’m getting calls to campaigns shut down 2 months ago. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
    • I think phone numbers are like domain names, they will live longer than intended. – James Svoboda
      • I am uneasy w/long-term use of a number I don’t control and can’t use as I want. Love embedded metrics. – Theresa Zook
    • They recycle numbers FAST. – Aaron Levy
      • Data tracks calls to specific Ad Groups inside the psd campaigns.I know people write down #s for later use. – Theresa Zook
        • Yeahh, I used the "write down numbers" example for a few weeks, but I get skeptical around month 3. – Aaron Levy
    • We pull all phone call, SEO, PPC data into a single dashboard (instead of just pushing calls into Analytics). – MyNextCustomer
  • Would use Google’s metrics for international client but not available even when targeting the USA…otherwise it would be reported. – Sterling Green (@sterlinggreen)

Q2: Which phone call tracking software do you find works the best? Why?

  • If Matt Umbro were here he’d say Google AdWords call extensions DO NOT. – James Svoboda
  • AdWords call metrics have produced very inaccurate and weird queries, but have also lead to some sales. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • I’ve only used Marchex, so not much to compare. I like it for my purposes. Clients have login to see and listen to calls. – Mark Kennedy
  • Depends on the PPC budget and what’s budgeted for a tool or proprietary call system tracking system. You get what you pay for. – Harris Neifield
  • I have not found a "Best" solution. There is so much room for improvement in the call tracking industry! – James Svoboda
  • Not doubting the sales, but what I can’t accurately track, I can’t reliably repeat. – Theresa Zook
  • Definitely NOT Google Voice. Have you ever tried to Export that data?! Had to make a custom Macro in Excel for it. – Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
  • We’ve only used our proprietary system in combination with our clients’ systems…. so not much to compare. – Claire Remmetter
  • Marchex in tandem with our platform, multiple #’s per campaign & call tracking codes on keyword urls help track our leads. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Still searching for a system that can track calls for long sales cycles and accurately track revenue. – Jessica Cameron Ruud
    • You would need a system that sets the cookie to expire 90, 120, or even more days later. We have some clients like UCLA Anderson Business school that have long sales cycles, so they needed us to add that feature. – George Revutsky (@george_revutsky)
  • Desperately want Google’s embedded tracking to work well. Love running reports that include all-important call generation. – Theresa Zook
  • We use a homegrown system. We tie inbound phone numbers to our lead ID’s every time someone calls. We also have several inbound numbers that change dynamically on the website depending on predicted profit, etc. – Chad Summerhill (@ChadSummerhill)

Q3: Do you include phone calls when calculating conversion metrics?

  • Absolutely – Theresa Zook, MyNextCustomer
  • No doubt about it. – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
  • Yes, IF I feel they are legitimate leads. Some of that decision is based on client feedback, so they have to agree. – Mark Kennedy
  • Yes, broken out as a line item so client can see how many of the total is calls. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Absolutely. But they are broken out so the client can see web leads vs. calls in case one is more valuable. – Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lund)
  • Phone calls make up a significant amount depending on client vertical (i.e. real estate) but breakdown into web vs phone. – Andy Groller
  • We measure call rates as well as sales rates when testing, etc. – Chad Summerhill
  • Yes, but depends on the client. Sometimes treat them as a "nice to know" metric a-la view throughs – always broken out tho. – Aaron Levy
  • What if the calls are only coming from call metrics? Do you present these calls to clients? – Matt Umbro
    • Call metrics depends on client and accuracy – as we’ve seen in past, call metrics stats are spotty sometimes. – Andy Groller
    • Yes – for some clients, that’s all the tracking we use. I listen carefully to their feedback in those cases. – Theresa Zook
    • I’ve inlcuded the Google call data IF the client doesn’t use outside system. But explain why data is hugely inaccurate. – Mark Kennedy
  • Yes, we do for our clients. Plus, phone conversions can be tracked too using our software. – George Revutsky
  • Yes. Keeping the tracking numbers clean and uncorrupted by other ad mediums is a priority. – James Svoboda
    • More for customer service. Dont list the number, target searches for why they are calling. Drive self serve. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
  • Depends on the client, but to some, calls are much more important than written sales leads. Frustration w/no call metrics–clients complain abt low call volume but I can’t "fix" what we don’t track. – Theresa Zook
  • I see 3x more calls than form fills in some efforts. Would be crazy not to. – Robert Brady (@Robert_Brady)

Q4: How do you impress upon clients the importance of tracking phone calls originating from PPC? Especially if they are unwilling to implement call tracking software?

  • Simply put: We can’t attribute lead/sales to PPC if we are not tracking them. – James Svoboda
  • Try A/B testing different calls to action around your phone number: "questions? calls us at 1800.." vs. just 1800. – George Revutsky
    • No editorial policies around CTA call messages…yet. Call now, call us, just don’t use "Click" – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • Are you receiving calls? Do you want to know the true ROI of your PPC efforts? More nicely put of course. – Andy Groller
  • Have them pull their own sales numbers from a "call in" vs. a form fill in (assuming its available). – Aaron Levy
  • Show them examples of other clients, explain ROI and why phone conversions are important. – Mark Kennedy
  • Plain and simple. Without it, they cannot possibly get a clear picture of their ROI. – Cassie Allinger
  • Ask them, "Do you want your phone to ring?" – Theresa Zook
  • It’s easiest when you want to show how PPC stacks up against $ spent in other marketing tactics (i.e. outdoor signage). – Andy Groller
  • Calculate % of sales happening online vs. offline to show how inaccurate the data is without tracking phone calls. – Jessica Cameron Ruud
  • Case Studies – Aaron Levy
  • Some businesses don’t get online responses, but demand can be generated and captured online. To measure that use call tracking. – Harris Neifield
  • Calls can be more important in our verticals than most online conversions so tracking is the best way to prove PPC value. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Go at it from dollars & cents since it’s their money – ‘Do you want to maximize your ROI?’ – Andy Groller
  • Different industries react better to different phone calls to action. education is different from loans, for example. – George Revutsky
  • But let’s think about the client who can’t afford call tracking software…is this an applicable excuse? – Matt Umbro
    • No. There are $100/month solutions out there. What’s $100 against your PPC budget which is usually much larger? – Harris Neifield
    • I never accept $ as an excuse. There are very inexpensive services out there. SOME level of tracking is affordable. – Theresa Zook
    • Google Voice is free & You can isolate these numbers on landing pages so as to not corrupt metrics. – James Svoboda
    • There are multiple ways to track phone calls without purchasing something, including some simple JavaScript. – John Ellis
    • Microsite just for PPC with dedicated phone number – as long as don’t lock user in an option, but not cheap one! – Rachel Cassidy (@RachelCassidy85)
  • If they pay for clicks they should pay for call tracking. There are some very affordable options. – Robert Brady
  • To really measure the value of PPC and to ensure we are making the right decisions, call tracking is essential. – Bonnie Schwartz (@bonnieschwartz)
  • Client education is part of the job description of managing PPC. Its required. – John Ellis
    • ou are completely right! We have to train our prospective clients ourselves! Special company blogs are ideal for this. – Bizz Click (@BizzClick)
  • With respect–call tracking essential for clients wanting calls. Does not include all markets & industries. – Theresa Zook
    • Agreed, many ecomm clients are primarily looking for web sales so phone calls are secondary, but still good to track. – Matt Umbro
      • I have clients who want 0 calls–want to "weed out" less-committed inquiries by forcing the website experience. – Theresa Zook
  • Anybody know of a way to "throttle" calls besides by budget, dayparting? Clients call center is worried about staff/being inundated. – Lisa Sanner
    • Hire more staff? – Theresa Zook
    • Rotate the landing page to have no phone line and just have a form for a while… but we don’t recommend this. – George Revutsky
    • Hack: Split-Test or ACE for LP where T.O.D. where volume is larger??? – James Svoboda
    • Lots of calls means folks want to talk to your customer – so they should get more reps. – George Revutsky
    • It always puzzles me why clients are afraid of call/click volume. Do they want the business or not? – Melissa Mackey

Q5: Do you write ads with a call to action of "Call Us" (or messaging along these lines)? How effective are these ads?

  • Sometimes, if the client prefers to get them on the phone, then we plant the "call us" seed in the ad. – Mark Kennedy
  • For home services this is essential when paired with click-to-call extensions, but for other biz types not as effective. – Michael McEuen (@lonohead)
  • Depends. Have had success with this when trying to establish client is local against national comp. – James Svoboda
  • Emphasis the positive features of the call center experience – friendly staff, no wait times, etc. – Harris Neifield
  • Depends on content/CTA on LP. Is number prominent, easy to read, main CTA, etc? Is goal calls or any form of contact? – Andy Groller
  • How about clients who don’t have mobile website, but still want mobile ad to show (option where headline isn’t clickable) – Matt Umbro
    • Really the only time I encourage phone calls in ad is when client doesn’t have mobile site but still wants mobile presence. And in that case I don’t make the headline clickable so it’s either a call or bust. – Matt Umbro
  • Depends what’s more valuable. If forms are priority, bury the phone number below form CTA. Standard "contact us" works too. – Aaron Levy
  • If the phone number is prominent on the LP "Call Now" messaging primes them for conversion. – Robert Brady
  • I rarely encourage phone calls via PPC. Online conversion is preferred. – John Ellis
    • Preferred yes, but some searchers will still find a way to call. – Matt Umbro
    • I find that local service providers often prefer calls. – Robert Brady
  • I use a "call us" tagline where the searcher might wonder if calling to ask ?s is acceptable. – Theresa Zook
  • Online conversions certainly helps tracking, but also easier on call center. Goal is more revenue AND less phone calls. – John Elis
  • Have you or your clients encountered issues when using multiple phone numbers, eg duplicate/incorrect Google Place Pages? – Andrew Baker (@AndrewBaker72)
    • Consider using image phone numbers combined with dynamic image replacement to avoid google places issue. – George Revutsky
    • Not sure what you mean? Places have "real" phone number, not tracking numbers, for my clients. – Theresa Zook
    • That will happen. Pick 1 phone number per physical location and use that combo consistently. – James Svoboda
    • Yes, and it’s painful to try to fix. – Lisa Sanner
    • Are you referring to tracking numbers when you say ‘multiple phone numbers’ ? – Cassie Allinger
      • Yes when they are included on landing pages. – Andrew Baker
    • Google Places scrapes landing pages for local phone numbers to create listings. – Andrew Baker


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

About the Streamcaptivator

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe, Search Engine Marketing Manager at WebRanking in Minneapolis, MN, #PPCChat Streamcap layer out’er, rare Search Blogger, Tweets Live from @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’ing from PaulKragthorpe.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Tweets

I am speaking at SMX East
PPCChat.co was rated one of the Best PPC Blogs by Boost CTR