Supplementary PPC Call Tracking Methods For Lead Generation

January 07, 2016

The Importance of Phone Tracking

Call tracking is a critical part of a lead generation PPC campaign; without a call tracking solution, your lead tracking and ROI data will be skewed. Furthermore, any optimizations made to your PPC campaign will be based on this faulty data. Plus, phone leads are often the highest quality leads, since callers frequently have complex and/or immediate needs.

While most agencies offering PPC management services know how important call tracking is, many are not aware of issues that can cause call tracking to fail. By understanding these supplementary PPC call-tracking methods, you can improve lead tracking and capture more phone leads for clients.

Call Ad Extensions

Both Google and Bing allow call extensions on their PPC ads. These extensions permit a phone number to be included in the ad text. Most companies simply add their direct phone number to these ads, which means they will not be able to track or take credit for any calls from these campaigns. Here is what you want to do:

  • Assuming your call tracking vendor offers the ability to buy one-to-one phone numbers, allocate specific phone numbers to call ad extensions.
  • Be sure to acquire one phone number to use in Google and another phone number to use in Bing. This way you can include any phone calls from these specific numbers into your total lead count separated by search engine. The cost-per-lead calculation will be improved by tracking these additional leads.
  • Depending on the structure and spend of your campaign, you can choose to apply the same one-to-one phone tracking method to call ad extensions at the campaign or ad group level. This more granular level of tracking will allow you to include additional phone leads into lead counts at the campaign or ad group level. You can then use these increased lead counts in your campaign optimizations, which will provide more accurate data when looking at campaign conversion data and deciding which campaigns to pause or increase/decrease bids.

For more setup details, Google discusses call extensions here, and Bing discusses call extensions here.

Landing Pages and Microsites

In lead generation campaigns, the use of a standalone landing page is very common and normally produces increased conversions over a public page on a website. Standalone landing pages are not linked from a public website or any other page on the Web. Instead, these landing pages are used only for a PPC campaign, and traffic from any other source cannot reach them. Examples of standalone landing pages include:

  • A single Web page with a conversion form and phone number.
  • A website page that has been copied to a standalone page and improved for conversions.
  • A microsite (on another domain or subdomain separate from your website) consisting of a small set of pages (5-10) focused on a specific service offering with a goal of increasing conversions.

If you are making use of a standalone landing page, acquire a one-to-one phone number that can be tied to the PPC source. Then, hard-code this phone number into the landing page in place of your main phone number. This way, if anyone calls that specific phone number, the PPC campaign will be able to take credit for the lead. Your standard phone tracking technology will overwrite this number when better tracking is available. However, your hard-coded number will be called when issues like this occur:

  • The visitor is using a browser plug-in to disable ad tracking.
  • The visitor has modified his browser settings to disable JavaScript.
  • The call tracking vendor has script or server issues.

The hard-coded number will be used in other similar situations, ensuring that your landing pages do not miss tracking any phone leads.

If you have a large media spend in Bing or just want improved tracking, take this one step further by duplicating your landing page in order to track Bing separately with an individual one-to-one hard-coded phone number.

Downloadable Content

Another approach to improve your phone lead counts is to make use of downloadable content. This less common method has been greatly successful.

Assuming this is a standalone landing page for your lead generation PPC campaign, figure out the conversion rate. If your conversion rate is 4 percent, 96 percent of the people who click your ads are not converting into a sales lead. One main reason for this is that many of these visitors are still in the research phase of the buying cycle. They are not ready to give up their personal information and talk to a sales rep. However, a large amount of these visitors will be willing to download something.

  • Monitor the number of downloads by using Google Analytics event tracking and/or an internal script that tracks the date/time and IP address of each user who downloads the PDF.
  • By using an internal script, you can take all downloads for a month and remove duplicate IP addresses. This will give a unique number of downloads for the month, which can be called secondary conversions and tied to your PPC campaign’s performance reporting.

For a lead generation campaign, we normally like using a PDF. This could be something like a condensed company brochure or a specific sell sheet on a particular service.

Within this PDF, be sure to include a phone number. You will want to acquire another one-to-one phone number that can be hard-coded into this PDF. Make sure this version of the PDF is only used on the standalone landing page. This way, any phone calls from this PDF can be traced to your PPC campaign.

If you choose to duplicate the landing page to track Bing separately, duplicate your PDF and acquire another one-to-one hard-coded number to track Bing.

The Value of Capturing Phone Lead Data

The screenshot below displays details from a client’s lead tracking report. First of all, notice how much worse the “results” would look if phone tracking were not set up properly! Many agencies undervalue their PPC services because they underreport their results — perhaps leading clients to fire them or scale back campaigns that are producing leads quite well.

In addition, note the high volume of secondary conversions. This high number is typical of what we experience, and represents a lot of opportunities for future sales — as well as adding to a client’s database for future marketing efforts.

In summary, combining a primary/secondary conversion strategy with granular, accurate phone tracking helps you produce better results and retain clients.

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