Boost Ad Performance With Click-To-Call In 2015
If you're not tracking incoming phone calls to your business, columnist Bill Dinan explains why you should focus on this metric this year.
The phone call is experiencing a renaissance. Once the golden child of desired advertising outcomes for direct response marketers, calls were overlooked when the Internet Age put clicks on the ad metrics map.
But as mobile has transformed the way we communicate and made smartphones into our own personal sherpas, marketers of all types have once again set their sights on calls and call analytics to help evaluate advertising impact.
In fact, BIA/Kelsey estimates mobile search will generate 73 billion calls to businesses in 2018. Even the power players – Google, Facebook and Twitter – have established some form of call analytics for their direct response marketers.
Proof of performance, cross-media attribution, offline metrics and ad optimization are the primary values delivered by tracking call analytics. Whether on the buy or sell side of the marketing equation, these tenets are consistent among directory providers, agencies and ad tech providers, national-to-local brands and SMBs. However, each sector uses call analytics in a slightly different way.
The Value Of Call Analytics
Here’s a look at the value call analytics can bring to the ad performance equation.
Local Search & Vertical Directories. Those demonstrating the offline lead activity that their properties generate for an advertiser are key to program success and growth. Traditionally, online directories generate high offline call volumes and high conversions – but they have to prove it.
Whether it is Yelp, AutoTrader, YP.com, OpenTable, or another digital directory, media properties need ways to demonstrate their performance and reach to both SMB and national brand advertisers.
With call analytics, these properties can show the holistic online-offline view of lead generation. Call analytics also help round out the attribution picture by revealing which directory distribution partners are delivering the most offline phone leads.
Search Agency & Ad Solution Providers. While these don’t have their own properties to sell into, proving that their ad buys and other online marketing solutions are generating leads is a top priority. Optimization is also a factor.
Providers use call analytics not only to track the calls generated by specific paid search keyword campaigns, but also to monitor the offline lead generation success of other digital marketing sources like email campaigns, web pages or mobile ads.
In fact, many have integrated calls within bid management dashboards to see what keywords are driving calls and conversions, and how the resulting call activity compares to clicks. After all, it is a delicate balance of generating leads and optimizing the available ad spend to drive the best results.
Agencies and ad providers also track multiple points on the consumer path to purchase through to calls, going beyond just engagement with an ad.
Whether it is a website visit or landing page hit, many directories, agencies and ad providers use dynamic number insertion (DNI) or dynamic call tracking to follow a consumer from the initial search result to landing page to phone call via unique phone number to track cross media attribution – bridging the online-offline gap and yielding proper attribution for these visits.
National Brands. Think of how many calls are generated by a national insurance ad campaign. Progressive has Flo, Geico has the gecko, State Farm has Aaron Rodgers, and the list goes on. Think again about how many of the resulting calls are directed to local agents and how that activity is tracked.
Call analytics allow national brands to better understand their lead generation profile – whether it is evaluating calls by ZIP code, gender, or other key demographic identifiers – but also test what campaigns are driving higher quality leads. Using call data to conduct closed loop conversation measurement and even integrating the data into their CRM system provides an opportunity to track lead attribution from customer interactions through the conversion.
Additionally, operational insights on how calls are handled in a call center or at a franchisee or local dealer are helpful in improving customer service and operations. These takeaways could be tracking missed call rates, examining call durations, or evaluating call handling compliance, e.g., greeting keywords, not naming competition, etc.
Call Analytics for SMBs
Lastly, all three of these groups – directories, agencies and ad solution providers, and national brands – are providing call analytics to SMBs through their various programs. SMBs are generally distracted by the business of running their companies so most work with advertising providers for guidance in creating awareness and driving foot, phone or online traffic to their business.
Call analytics are well received by SMBs as they easily understand the value of a phone call and potential impact on their bottom line. Certainly, some are too focused on the number of calls generated when it really should be more about quality. However, they largely embrace the concept and while they aren’t tracking calls back to a keyword level or specific ad placement, they are concerned with whether the money they spent on an ad provider is legitimately helping to make the phone ring.
Mobile has helped fuel the increased adoption of call analytics and tracking phone calls beyond the clicks among all digital channels. As a result, the phone call has come full circle and regained its position as a trusted cross-media performance metric that provides clear attribution and proof of performance for all major areas of the direct response advertising arena.