With the explosion of smartphones, people are calling businesses more and more, seamlessly blending online and offline experiences. As a result, call tracking solutions for marketers have evolved by leaps and bounds within the last few years. With so many new options on the market it can be tough to sort through the features and understand what you really need and what you can live without.
I’ve been in the call space for many years, both as a consumer and in leadership positions for companies with call tracking components of their product. Having sat on both sides of the table, I know it’s easy to understand the importance of tracking, though sometimes challenging to understand the nuances of the technology.
To help you sort through the options and benefits, I’ve grouped call tracking into four basic categories that will help you know what’s worth it and will actually help drive measurable results.
1. Basic Call Tracking
Basic call tracking is…well…basic. It’s one phone number tied to one marketing channel or referral source. A typical example might be a plumber who has one number for his Yellow Page listing, another for his online listing, and a third he uses for local newspaper advertisements. Any time a call comes in from one of those phone numbers he knows the general source.
Basic call tracking works well for SMBs with limited call volume and few marketing programs. Reporting is fairly straightforward and usually looks something like a monthly report with a breakdown of call volume by campaign, with a few additional metrics such as call duration.
2. Campaign Level Call Tracking
Campaign level tracking is similar to Basic tracking, but involves many more phone numbers since several marketing campaigns are being deployed to drive calls. To get slightly more granular reporting, unique tracking phone numbers are assigned to individual marketing efforts such as email campaigns, direct mail campaigns, trade show collateral, referral partners, paid search campaigns and so on.
This can be an effective solution for marketers looking for simple attribution for several campaigns and media partners. The downside is as business grows and marketing efforts increase, it becomes cumbersome and cost prohibitive to manage hundreds of individual phone numbers. It’s just not scalable.
3. Session Level Call Tracking
Session level tracking is where we start to see some powerful technology. Session level tracking is based on “dynamic number insertion” technology, which means that a session-based phone number is assigned to each web visitor and their online activity. Instead of assigning a single phone number to a single campaign, a phone number is automatically generated on your website that is unique to that visitor, so when that visitor places a phone call, their online actions leading to the call will be tracked.
For example, a search marketer running 50 AdWords campaigns with hundreds of ad groups, wouldn’t have to assign a phone number to each campaign. Instead, when a prospect visits the landing page a session based phone number will automatically appear. If the visitor calls, session level tracking analytics will show the keyword, campaign, adgroup, and landing page that led to the call.
This also works well for marketers with an affiliate program or several media partners that refer traffic. Each time a prospects lands on the website, a unique phone number will be generated and the referring source captured. This allows referring partners to drive traffic to one landing page without losing attribution.
This approach works well for companies that have many different and ever-changing marketing campaigns and programs and receive hundreds of calls per month.
4. Visitor Level Call Tracking
Visitor level tracking is by far the most powerful, and it addresses the reality that today’s complex, multichannel path to purchase involves many steps.
Let’s look at an example:
A prospect conducts a Google search and clicks through your paid search ad to your site. The prospect was early in the purchase process, so didn’t transact. Your retargeting campaigns kick in, and the prospect is reminded of your brand, revisits your website and fills out a lead form requesting more information. A week later they open up your follow-up email and click a link back to your website. They still aren’t ready to purchase, but they bookmark your site because obviously they are very interested. Finally they come to your site as a direct visit and decide to call and purchase.
The previously mentioned types of call tracking tracking technology would flag this call as a direct visit, and you would be tempted to discount all other marketing campaigns that played a role in the sale. Visitor level call tracking captures each point of interaction so you see the entire path to purchase.
The Flaw of Last Click Metrics
Basic, Campaign, and Session level tracking follow a last click attribution model which oversimplifies the reality of today’s meandering path to purchase. If you’re serious about measuring marketing performance and true ROI you need visitor level call tracking, which few call tracking vendors provide.
Invoca shows you the true customer path to a phone call, but our role doesn’t stop there. The marketing and call data we capture is easily shared across all of the platforms you use to manage your business, from bid management to marketing automation solutions, and of course CRM platforms like Salesforce. Combining online and offline data allows you to make more informed decisions, increase advertising ROI and lower customer acquisition costs.
If you want to learn more about our call tracking solutions, contact us to receive a customized demo.