You might know that call tracking is a burgeoning new segment of the digital marketing industry. What you might not know is what’s driving the growth of call tracking. Phone calls to businesses are up, as we noted in our recent survey of hundreds of thousands of calls to more than 500 companies that use CallRail to track all inbound calls. The study found that businesses surveyed registered a 19 percent year-over-year increase in call volume between Q2 2014 and the same quarter of 2015.
Marketing agencies and SMBs are both adopting call tracking in droves because they want to understand more about these inbound phone calls. Agencies want to show their clients that their online and offline campaigns are working–that they’re generating verifiable new business. SMBs embrace call tracking because it gives them valuable insight into which of their hard spent marketing efforts are paying off with phone calls.
In short, call tracking is all about increasing profitability. It gives marketing intelligence to the telephone call that traditional landlines connecting a prospect to a business could never deliver.
What is Call Tracking?
Imagine that your business phone number—the one prospects call when they’re considering doing business with you—could somehow tell you when the caller visited your website. What pages they viewed. How often they visited your site. Whether they are responding to PPC, online content ads, an organic search (and the search terms they used), or a direct visit to your website.
Or, if you rely on billboards, TV, radio or print advertising, imagine that your business phone number could tell you which media and which specific ad triggered each call.
If your business phone could do all these things, you’d be able to measure the ROI on your latest ad or marketing campaign. But whether you use phone service from one of the major carriers, a CLEC or a VoIP provider, this much is obvious: Your VoIP or landline business phone isn’t connected to your website nor to your offline advertising. All the data associated with how and why prospects respond to your marketing via phone disappear into the ether. Lost forever.
Call tracking solves that problem and gives you a way to accurately measure the ROI you get on each ad or marketing campaign.
How Call Tracking Works
Call tracking software works by giving marketers a way to publish a unique phone number in each form of offline advertising. A radio ad uses one number; a billboard another. Likewise, online advertising (PPC, landing pages, etc.) can each display different unique numbers, to each visitor. All of them forward to the “real” number of the business. Call tracking lets you understand which specific ads and marketing campaigns are driving phone calls. Then, with call tracking software, telephone calls become torrents of new data that help you convert suspects into prospects into customers.
As if that’s not enough, most call tracking software suites include features like:
- Call recording. You can actually listen to the phone call (saved as an MP3 or WAV file) with the prospect. This feature alone opens doors to several process improvement opportunities. For instance, you can review incoming calls to your sales team and identify areas where additional training of your inbound sales staff would increase the close rate. Likewise, if you choose to track calls into your customer service or support teams, hearing phone interactions can point to ways those services might be improved.
- Interactive voice response menus. SMBs and marketing agencies can set up IVR menus that route calls to the most appropriate team (sales, customer service, etc.). The IVR menu can be used to conduct surveys, answer routine questions and assist callers. It can provide useful information, like a FAQ, in a short ten or fifteen second preamble, rather than the customary message that “Our menu options have recently changed.”
<li”>Integration. Call tracking platforms that integrate with Google Analytics, CRM systems and open API’s expand the value of a call tracking system. For example, with a Salesforce.com integration, your sales team can answer the phone with knowledge of who the caller is, what interest they have in your offerings, what pages they’ve visited on your site and even more.
Why Call Tracking is Important
BIA/Kelsey, a leading research, consulting and advisory service company, reports that SMBs find phone calls produce substantially better quality leads than any other lead source. Based on leads SMBs rated as “good” or “excellent,” only 35 percent of Facebook ads fell into those categories. Inquiries via email ranked in those top tiers at just 43 percent, while in-person visits to the business ranked around 59 percent—slightly more than half. However, SMBs ranked phone calls as having good or excellent quality nearly 70 percent of the time. Unlike a click or an email, the phone puts two live people in touch, allowing the SMB to present its offerings in the most favorable light and with the information most relevant to the caller.
Another trend that makes call tracking beneficial lies in the tremendous growth of smartphones. Mobile users calling about a product or service follow through with one or more actions or conversions—visiting the business, placing an order, asking product related questions, making a purchase—some 73 percent of the time. Further, 70 percent of mobile users have used click-to-call to dial a business directly from the search engine results page, according to Google research. They also report that 57 percent of those people called so they could talk to a human being rather than trying to navigate a small screen to find answers on a web page. The smartphone’s unbridled growth portends even greater call volumes.
Why Call Tracking is Transforming the Phone Landscape
When you look at this nearly revolutionary change in business phone communication, I find a few key factors underlie the phenomenon. You can drill down further in an article I wrote here but for the moment, these seem to be the top three.
- As has been said to many sales and marketing people trying to justify a sales forecast, “Hope is not a strategy.” That applies equally to a business owner or marketing exec allocating marketing dollars in efforts to generate new business. Businesses that use call tracking can track results in real time. If the results they’re looking for don’t materialize, they adjust until the campaign does produce. There’s no “hoping” involved. Those not using call tracking are signing on to enjoy those benefits and to avoid being left behind.
- As I mentioned above, the sheer number of phone calls to businesses are accelerating, thanks in large measure to click-to-call appearing on the 150 million mobile devices people use every day.
- The ubiquity and growing sophistication, not to mention affordability, of cloud services makes call tracking implementation relatively easy.