It always surprises us how often we see a lead generation PPC campaign running without a phone call tracking solution in place. Not only is an inbound phone call considered a higher quality lead (over form submissions), but without call tracking you are missing 25 to 50 percent of your conversion tracking. Without call tracking data, you cannot accurately optimize your PPC campaign for more leads, you cannot calculate your cost per lead, and you will have no idea what your true ROI is. Knowing how critical call tracking is to a lead generation PPC campaign, be sure you have the best call tracking solution in place.
A Good Start
The most basic (and most inexpensive) level of call tracking is a solution that only tells you that PPC is the source of a phone call. This type of solution doesn’t have the ability to tell you which search engine and keyword generated the phone call. With this type of call tracking solution, you cannot use this data to optimize your campaign for conversions or calculate a cost per lead by engine. Steer clear of this type of call tracking technique.
Over the years, we have seen a number of call tracking vendors with poor technology. You can spot this when you hear that a call tracking solution only provides the search engine, campaign and/or ad group as the source data and does not include keyword level tracking. When you find a call tracking vendor who does provide keyword level tracking, be careful that the vendor is not advising you to hand select keywords or a group of keywords to implement call tracking on, as that leads to much less than full coverage of call tracking for your PPC campaign. Another strange implementation that we have seen is where you need to set up 1:1 (keyword to tracked phone number) tracking. All of these are less-than-ideal solutions for call tracking on your PPC campaign.
Best In Class
Visitor-session-based call tracking is where each visitor to your website from your PPC campaign receives a unique tracked phone number. The referral URL is tracked and appended to that visitor’s session, which identifies the search engine and the keyword searched. When a searcher clicks a PPC ad, he/she is taken to the destination URL of the ad, which becomes the entry URL to your website. Using additional variables that you append to your destination URL, you can also have the ability to track the campaign, ad group, match type and matched keyword. Besides confirming the above functionality requirements when selecting the right call tracking provider, there are a few other things to look for:
- Phone Call Recordings
This is a very basic requirement, but you should be sure that your selected provider has this ability. Without a recording of the phone call, there is no way to verify that it is an actual sales lead. A number of other auxiliary benefits come from call recordings like spotting poor phone handling methods by staff or recognizing missed leads from full voice mail boxes and other phone system issues.
- Dedicated Phone Number Pools
Make sure the pool of phone numbers is dedicated to your business and is not shared between other clients. If you are an agency, you should require that each of your clients has a dedicated pool of tracked numbers and those numbers are not shared between your clients.
- Separating SEO and PPC Phone Calls
Another thing to be aware of is how the call tracking vendor properly separates a PPC source from an SEO source. Take an instance where an agency has an SEO client, but the client runs its PPC campaign. In order for SEO call tracking not to include PPC visitors, normally the PPC campaign must be tagged to prevent this. Many times, clients refuse to spend the time or money to properly tag their PPC campaign and what ends up happening is that SEO reporting — including phone calls from PPC visitors and the lead data — is skewed. Be sure to ask call tracking companies how they handle a case like this.
- Google Analytics Call Integration
Be sure to select a call tracking provider that has a Google Analytics integration and allows your phone tracking to be pushed into Google Analytics as an event. This is normally done as a post-back URL that pushes data from the call tracking provider to Google Analytics after a tracked phone call has ended. Having offline call data inside your Google Analytics account can provide deeper insight into your campaign performance.
Having the best call tracking solution in place is only the beginning. Once you have accurate phone call data from your PPC campaign, you need to make sure you are validating each phone call to make sure that the call was, in fact, a sales lead. Otherwise, your data will be skewed with phone calls generated by misdials, sales solicitations, job applicants, personal calls, etc. After validating your phone calls to make sure they are sales leads, you can now take your phone call data and form submission data and use those leads to report accurately, optimize your PPC campaign’s performance, and improve your PPC campaign’s ROI.