Phone Calls: The Metric You Aren’t Considering
Before the days of online shopping, consumers had to complete a purchase the old fashioned way: in store or over the phone. Let’s face it, despite how advanced we’ve become, some people just prefer to make their purchase over the phone. As the slides below show, consumers are now relying on mobile more than ever before:
But the shift to mobile is not just sales-based- consumers have cited calling a business or website for various reasons:
- Get a quick answer
- Talk to an actual person
- Have more questions beyond the website
- The product or service is expensive, so a conversation is required
- Check business hours
- Schedule an appointment
- Inquire about inventory
Not all of these reasons may be easily tracked for ROI, but they are integral points in a consumer’s purchase path. As mobile search usage grows each year, we need to adjust our thinking and approach to how people make their purchase for a product or service.
So, how do you begin? The first step is quite simple: understand your client’s business.
- Are they a service provider?
- Do they sell products and have a customer service center?
- What hours does their customer service run?
- Approximately what % of sales occur over the phone vs web?
- Do you have a mobile enabled/friendly site experience currently?
Once you have these questions answered, you can begin tackling how you want to track phone calls (both from web as well as on mobile). Below are some tactics you can employ:
Google Call Extension:
Google offers an extension to your ads to drive phone calls called call extensions. You can use a Google forwarding number, or your own. Note that when using your own number, AdWords does not provide phone calls obtained, so a Google forwarding number is recommended. You can choose to have your phone number displayed on all devices, or mobile only. The mobile version provides a simple clickable icon that prompts the user to connect with the desired destination phone number.
Now that you have your call extension in place, you need to decide when you would like it to appear. For instance, if your client is a pizza delivery service and only delivers after 4PM, you don’t want to have your extensions show before 4PM. Google allows you to easily schedule when these extensions display, making results more efficient.
Call extensions can be used for both traditional web ads as well as via mobile click to call. Click to call is a wonderful alternative to actually driving folks to your site from mobile devices – especially if your client’s site is not mobile-friendly yet.
Bing Call Extensions
Bing offers an extension to your ads to drive phone calls called call extensions as well. You can use a Skype forwarding number, or your own. Bing has recently partnered with Skype, allowing consumers to make phone calls right from a computer, without having to dial number on their phone. When using the Skype forwarding number, Bing is charging $1 dollar for each call made. To avoid the added cost, opt to use a local number of your own.
Now that you have call tracking or click to call in place with your search campaigns how do you measure effectiveness of the calls that are coming through? In short there’s two ways of approaching this – assumed conversion rates based off duration of call (free methodology) or true call tracking (paid methodology).
“True” Call Tracking
Numerous call tracking vendors (example: Marchex and Mongoose Metrics) exist that provide call detail all the way down to the keyword level. These vendors do come at a cost, charging by the phone number and minutes per month. Despite the additional cost, call tracking vendors allow advertisers to understand what keywords drive phone calls, aiding in campaign optimizations. Additionally these vendors are able to track not only direct calls [made on one’s mobile device] but also paid search clicks to site that end up with the consumer converting over the phone.
“Google” Call Tracking Assumptions
Google allows advertiser’s to designate conversions for calls based on length of phone call. You have the option to select a given amount of seconds or minutes per call, which Google will record as “phone conversions” in a custom column. Choose the appropriate amount of time to qualify as a conversion that is unique to your business. If your customer service line contains multiple automated prompts, choose a longer threshold in case the customer doesn’t get to speak to a representative until two minutes into the call.
Quick Tips on Making Call Sales “Work”
- The key to getting true results from incoming phone calls is a proper call center. Work with your clients on prepping their call centers for increased volume driven from search campaigns.
- Coordinate your call extension flight times, so representatives are able to handle the additional calls.
- Utilize unique phone numbers and promo codes, so call center representatives can identify what channel the customer was driven from.
- Educate your call center staff – make sure they are truly the experts on the service and products being offers. Our clients that have established call center teams with strong knowledge of the products offered have typically seen much stronger AOV over the phone vs. web orders.
Phone calls are a valuable metric that should be a part of any client’s marketing strategy. Calls provide an outlet for customers to get more information about the product or service before making their purchase. They also are a great alternative to mobile web page visits [which traditionally show the poorest order rates of all devices]. Search engines and 3rd party vendors provide multiple ways of tracking customer phone calls. Decide what avenue of call tracking makes sense for your client and start incorporating phone calls into your marketing strategy.