phone call tracking to measure advertising effectiveness – it’s easy!


phone call tracking  


by Steven LaLonde – PPC Manager at DragonSearch

Sometimes leads don’t just come in as submitted contact forms.  For many businesses, the best leads – the quality leads – come in the form of, you guessed it, a phone call.  

This is especially true for small businesses, real estate agencies, and many, many others. For folks like this, the number of quality phone calls is sometimes the ultimate measure of advertising effectiveness; as the phone call is often a sign of true, immediate interest and intent.  Unfortunately,  many people don’t realize that they can track their phone calls back to the advertising mediums which drove them.  Fortunately, it’s quite easy to do.  

If you’re running advertising which encourages your audience to “call now!”, shouldn’t you track those calls, to measure the effectiveness of your advertising?  You’ll be able to evaluate your ad buys, and improve overall advertising performance, by implementing some phone call tracking.  

There are many services which make phone call tracking a breeze.  We happen to use Voicestar, but we’ve used other services before too, with similarly positive results.  All call tracking providers should provide pretty clear instructions, so we won’t go into too much detail, but here’s the gist of how it works:

  1.  You sign up for an account with a provider like Voicestar and order toll free phone numbers.  
  2. Say you’re running a print campaign in the New York Times.  If your print ad contains a phone number, you’ll order a new number which will replace your actual phone number in the ad.  Then, inside the Voicestar UI, you’ll set up that number to redirect to your actual phone number.  
  3. Your print ad runs in the Times, and every call generated by it is captured as a lead, before redirecting to your actual line.  The callers never know they were “captured as a lead”, as the phone rings normally before redirecting. You can even record the calls, but you’ll need to run a quick “Your call will be recorded for Quality Control purposes….” message to do so, for obvious legal reasons.  
  4. You then evaluate the leads and use this data to inform your future advertising! Pretty neat and easy!! 


But wait!! What if you’re running something like a Pay-per-Click campaign, and other internet marketing campaigns, (banner ads, and so on), and you want to track these leads too?  You can’t just replace the phone number on the website, because then you’ll be tracking ALL website-driven calls, instead of just Pay per Click or Banner Ad-driven calls.  

There’s a solution, and it’s called Direct Number Insertion (DNI tracking, for short). By placing a bit of .js code on your website, and tagging your ad URLs with certain parameters, your normal phone number on your website will instantaneously be repla
ced by your tracking phone number, as the JavaScript code triggers the number replacement.  

In other words, your pay per click campaign in Google AdWords or YSM! will trigger a number replacement and track the calls back to the PPC advertising.  Your banner ad will do the same.  If you want to get more granular (say you have an AdWords geo-targeted campaign, a Content Network campaign, and two banners) you’ll need to order a DNI line for each, so beware as things get pricier as you go more granular with the tracking.   

NOTE: this JavaScript rewrite method only works if your current phone numbers are in number format.  If you’re phone numbers are embedded in an image on your website, you may want to set up a proxy rewrite instead. See your providers instructions for more information on JavaScript rewrites and proxy rewrites. 

 If you’re in the business of generating phone call leads, I hope you’ll explore the possibilities afforded by phone call tracking, and use this to improve your future advertising campaigns, across all mediums!




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