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Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to track telephone call leads in Google Analytics? Guess what? There is and I'm going to share with you over a series of four posts how you can set this up for yourselves.

In this economic climate, what with the credit crunch ‘n’ all it is more important than ever to prove to your clients that the work that you doing is providing real return on investment. For e-commerce websites, this is fairly easy by using analytics tools such as Google Analytics to gather data. But what of other sites? What of sites where conversions are actually not sales but are leads generated?

Again, using Google Analytics as an example, we can set goals for contact forms etc. We can use event tracking for clicks on links etc.  But what about the number of telephone call leads generated as a result of landing on your client's site?

We have devised a solution to the problem of tracking offline telephone leads in order to prove to your clients that they are generating phone calls off the back of your online marketing efforts. Being able to show client these stats allows them to make more informed judgements about where their budget is best spent. But for internet marketers, it also means that we can see whether high traffic paid key terms are worth the spend, or whether they should be ditched altogether.

This post is the first of four where I will walk you through how to set up a system like CallTrackID for yourself and your clients. I have broken it down into four sections to make it more easily digestible as follows:

  1. Explaining the CallTrackID system
  2. Setting up Google Analytics
  3. Getting Phone Numbers onto your site
  4. Pushing Call Data into Google Analytics

Explaining the CallTrackID System

With this call tracking system, it is necessary to ‘define’ what the routes to your site are that you wish to analyse. This means that in the first instance, you need to have an awareness of where you think call converting traffic maybe coming from.

Example

Let’s use an example of HolidaysToTheMoon.Com. This fictionary company predominantly want to sell holidays to the moon, except they don’t have an ecommerce site.  They require that a searcher

  1. Finds their site
  2. Like what they see (engages with site)
  3. And, pick up the phone to book with a human sales person (converts)


Their main online marketing channels are:

  1. Google Adwords Paid Search
  2. Google Organic Search
  3. A paid advert on a site called starvacations.com

They want to know which of these channels generate the most potential sales (potential because closing the deal is down to the salesperson).

Each referring route (medium) is given a separate number. When a user lands on the site having come from one of the predefined routes, the assigned number is displayed to them and only this number.

  1. Google Adwords Paid Search – 0845 111111
  2. Google Organic Search – 0845 222222
  3. A paid advert on a site called starvacations.com – 0845 333333

When they dial this number, the CallTrackID system recognises it as a predefined route, and fires a call to a webpage containing the Google Analytics tracking code which then registers a visit in Google Analytics.

Example

Charlie clicks on an ad from starvacations.com and lands on HolidaysToTheMoon.com. The contact telephone number displayed on the site is 0845 333333.

Charlie decides he wants to speak to Customer Services. Charlie dials 0845 333333. The call is transferred to the normal main dedicated sales phone number to answer as normal e.g. 01903 247788. Charlie speaks to the rep.

The call is registered in a CSV file in the telephone account of HolidaysToTheMoon.com. This data is then collected into an email, parsed through a system that converts it to XML which then fires a call to a dedicated page on your site that contains their Google Analytics™ Tracking Code.

The data is recorded in a call tracking profile in Google Analytics™ for HolidaysToTheMoon.com to create comparison reports between the referring routes. This allows them to determine which routes to site generate the most telephone calls.

HolidaysToTheMoon.com can now:

a) Prove ROI of online marketing efforts.

b) Re-allocate budgets according to results

c) Adjust target keywords to pursue most profitable terms.

The next three posts will explain how to:

  1. Set up Google Analytics for Call tracking
  2. Get Phone Numbers onto your site
  3. Push Call Data into Google Analytics
Nikki Rae

Published 24 August, 2009 by Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae is Managing Directort at Future Insight Analytics, and a contributor to Econsultancy.

4 more posts from this author

Comments (27)

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Ben Sidebottom

Hi there, nice post. This is something that is starting to take off a bit with companies coming out with hundreds of numbers for different channels. I have done some work with clients in the past using technologies like this and it really does help to optimise those accounts.

However, whilst it is a good way to qualify those telephone leads and at least have a holistic understanding of what is working it is not really great if you want to do it at keyword level and have hundreds of throusands of keywords. At the very best you can do this to campaign level with a hundred phone numbers or so which is still very useful insight.

To help add to the data, a "follow up" email could go out to the user after the phone call that drives the user onto some "other information" - what this would really be doing it triggering their browser to acknowledge they have made a call and relate this back to their keyword. Not everyone will do this, but knowing what percentage of the emails were clicked on and working that to the total number of phone calls from the call tracking can give you a nice idea of which keywords are working too.

Thanks,

Ben

almost 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Interesting article Nikki, I look forward to reading the next installments to get a better picture of how this works.

thanks

james

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi Ben,

You are right that it could get to an unpractical amount of phone numbers which would effect page load times and the usability of the site, so it is important to strategise how the project will work for you.  This means you have to decide which are the most important keywords for you to test if you want to go down to that level.  The most obvious starting place is testing the terms that are the most expensive (especially if they do not convert on site) to explore whether they should be turned off completely?, bids raised? etc.

We are working with the theory that in these instances, some data is definitely better than no data at all.

I like your email triggering idea, but I'm not sure how it would work.  At this time, a telephone call is a completely independent activity that is unrelated to the PC. Your PC could be off and you not on the website and you make your call - this means no browser interaction is possible at this time.

Thanks for your comment, I have been looking forward to opening up debate about this technology

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi Linus,

Thanks for the compliment and yes, I have written a white papaer on this topic.  I am hoping that by breaking it down into a series of blog posts, it will be asier to digest!

Nikki

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi James,

Glad you like it - I will get writing asap.

Nikki :)

almost 7 years ago

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Ben Sidebottom

Hi Nikki,

You are spot on with regards to the "picking your keywords" and working with a strategy. Couldnt agree more.

My email idea is simply a follow up email you send on from the phone call. You would have to ask visitor on the phone what their email address is but this would normally be part of the information collection anyway. Following on from your holidaystothemoon.com example what you can do is when the user has booked their holiday you can then say "we have sent you an email containing additional information regarding your hotel and location" etc which is an optional thing to do - who wouldn't want to look at this information? ;) The link in the email would then just be a redirect through a collection point which triggers an action in Google Analytics which would then capture as returning and relate the sale to the keyword they originally used and then this redirects to the right information page for their holiday.

In addition if the user simply enquires but does not purchase a holiday, you can do the same but with a different redirecting collection URL and say "we have sent you an email of additional information if you wish to book with a reference etc etc" and this could trigger just a lead in Google Analytics.

Would take some setup, but would offer additional information down to keyword level as well as purchase or lead conversions rather than just phone lead.

Just some food for thought :)

Ben

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi Ben,

Its great food for thought!  It is notably difficult to change the structure of the sales process in an organisation to include this action but if you have buy in with the HIPPOs, it is an interesting idea.

In theory it could work similarly in the customer rep hits a link for sale and a different for non-sale, but the sales rep would need to know which number was dialled into and with the CallTrackID system, the 0845 numbers are 'vanity' numbers.

With your email idea, the call still wouldn't be able to relate to the keyword unless the keyword had already been defined.

Nikki

almost 7 years ago

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Ben Sidebottom

Hi Nikki,

The keyword will have been defined. In the initial entry of the user onto the site. Providing you are using campaign and term tags on your PPC keywords any future visits will be related to this keyword (or the last keyword used due to last click attribution of GA) as it is all client side. So if the user comes back a week later and goes through the special "goal" page, this goal would then be related back to the original keyword they used to fine the site - of course this is providing the user uses the same browser they used for the initial visit and have not deleted their cookies but these limitations are no different to normal tracking really.

And yes, getting processes changes in an organisation can be tricky but most of these systems like holiday bookings, car quotes, sales etc always follow up with an email. Or at least 99% of them do.

Cheers,

Ben

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Gotcha!  Great idea!

To play devils advocate then - how many people are going to give their email addresses if they are not interested in the holiday once they have called.

But, saying that - to know which keywords led to a sale on it own would be wonderful data.

Nikki :)

almost 7 years ago

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Ben Sidebottom

Very true. You would just have to play the "we can email you more information" card. But the way to look at it is if they are not willing to give you their email then they are not very interested and are not a "quality" lead anyway so you wouldn't want them in your stats.

Well thats how I would justify it to anyone asking ;)

Ben

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi Rob,

Thank you for your comment. Agreed, there are a few suppliers now.  We devised the tool as we saw the need for it as part of our own services so we could gain more for our clients in terms of PPC conversion and understanding.

For us, compared with some other suppliers, we are not telecoms specialists but have come from the Internet Marketing route.  We are strong believers in conversion and so felt that we would offer this tool to clients, but also felt that we should share the technology with the industry and so I wrote the whitepaper that Linus mentioned.

It's great to here that Call Tracking is being talked about and I can't wait to hear more!

Nikki

almost 7 years ago

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marcos.richardson@rbi.co.uk

You should be able to use any phone supplier who as a central server exchange. I have asked an *unamed telephoen number supplier to send a .05 second ping straight back to the page where we host the unique telephone number. I have also asked them to name their server so we can see the requests made to our pages by their server by doing a simple search. The tests have been successful, we can now see in our reports conversions of unique telephone numbers dialled from our pages.

Furthermore we can apply regression analysis to see the origin of the user. This is not quite as robust as the egg solution in that you can’t include campaign parameters and originating attributes.  But for large sites that have thousands of unique telephone numbers you can work out call volume per page. And of course if you are pushing a specific PPC or offline campaign where you can append individual IDs you can tie this together to get campaign ROI.

Marcos Richardson

Head of SEO & Analytics

RBI Business Leads Division

Bankersalmanac.com

Reed Business Information

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi Marcos,

Great solution!

Nikki

almost 7 years ago

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Andrew

Nikki, great blog, something im very much interested in setting up! Would you have any costs associated with this? Im just wondering if the cost outweighs the savings/campaign optimisation/budget allocation/resources. 

Also in the example and white paper both 0845 and 0800 numbers were used and im sure we are all aware that 0845/0800 numbers are now charged by Mobile providers and these local/free call numbers are no longer covered by inclusive minutes - our own testing has shown a decline of 'conversions' when using 0845 numbers as many people are very much credit left/cost aware of their telephone usages. 

You could argue that prospects would use a land line etc - but in your own example you state that the PC maybe off and no interaction is made and one could assume they are not near a land line to place the call and when they are they would be in front of a pc where the site could offer free call back services. 

Just a thought. 

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi Andrew,

Please checkout our prices here http://www.freshegg.com/call-track-id.htm or give me a ring.

With regards to your comments, you can use any number that can be forwarded to a local geographic number and this includes local geographic numbers themselves.  This can give you the opportunity to then offer both types of numbers to your searchers.

Also, we use the tool to track call conversions, in most instances our clients offer free callback requests which we can track down to product level using (non) ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics anyway.  calltrackId just gives us the opportunity to track those that phone in.

Furthermore, the idea of th PC being off is also to do with time lag.  Charlie can view the site on Monday, write the phone number down and phone in on Thursday - this shows how unrelated to the website in terms of tracability it can become and why the keyword details have to be pushed rather than pulled. 

Great thoughts!

Nikki

almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi James,

Thats great news.  Would be interesting to know if they built it using the info in my whitepaper - feedback would be great!

Thanks

Nikki

almost 7 years ago

Garry Davis

Garry Davis, Director at Grow Digital Marketing

Hi

We have been looking at a simpiliar system from http://www.adinsight.eu It seems clear that this is a growing market and that the 'holy grail' of tying all on and offline activities together could be achieved. However, the limitation of Google analytics is that last action counts.

I would be really interested to see how these types of solutons can be integrated into additional analytics packages.

Garry

almost 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Any

Stop spamming - you've added the same pointless comment to other articles and blogs and we're trying to have a meaningful conversation here. Please take your lazy and untargeted marketing efforts elsewhere and stop wasting our time.

thanks

james

almost 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@James - thanks for wading in! We're cleaning up the overnight spam and putting some new functionality in place to smite these losers. I don't know why they bother: links in comments are Nofollow. 

c.

almost 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Chris.

Yep but that is why they bother, they have no idea! I contacted them via their website and told them what was happening in case it is an affiliate or SEO agency.

On another note, can you recommend who I contact at Econsultancy to discuss how I could become a blog contributor? I contacted via the website but have not had a reply and it's nearly 1 week now.

thanks

james

almost 7 years ago

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Lindsey Annison, Web PR Consultant at Clickthrough Marketing

Nice article Nikki explaining how to offer this valuable add-on for clients to measure ROI.

We have offered phone call tracking for a few years now, and it is really coming into its own with the ease of tying it into Google Analytics. We have also added the functionality to monitor and measure phone call conversions from forums, banners, affiliates and other online marketing activities, as well as from PPC and organic SERPs.


almost 7 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi Lindsey,

Great to hear it!

Using Google Analytics Campaign Tracking (http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578) anything can be tracked.

almost 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Monaier - yet another lame attempt to put cheap links to your website. Stop wasting our time - either contribute to the discussion or keep quiet. Putting "wonderful blog" at the start of your post does not mean it is not spam. You do know these links are no follow so have no benefit to your SEO? Bye Bye.

over 6 years ago

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Sarah Hirschberg

Wow! This is a great idea! I'm going to start experimenting. I found this page because we have been using Google Analytics to generate cold call leads. Our business development guy reviews the web logs every day and, when he sees a company network hit the site using a target keyword, he sends it to a salesperson to call the company - resulting in about $100,000 in sales over the two years we've been doing it. I was trying to see if anyone else is doing the same thing. Have you guys ever heard of this before?

about 6 years ago

Nikki Rae

Nikki Rae, Managing Director at Future Insight Analytics Ltd.Small Business

Hi Sarah,

If you are using Google Analytics to do this you are breaking their terms of service.  Even using log files to work this way is dodgy ground in terms of 'privacy'.  I would be careful :)

Nikki Rae

about 6 years ago

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Thanks Nikki

Hi Nikki, We had our attorney look at the Google Analytics terms of service and he didn't see a problem - basically because the restriction is on "personally identifiable information", which would not apply to a company. He said it would be another matter if the network were named after a person. We also voiced some concerns to our Congressman because some of the networks hitting our site are government agencies and military networks. It always seemed odd to us that we were able to see what someone at Homeland Security or the State Department was searching for. I should think that the government would have better controls on out-bound data from sensitive networks. Sarah

about 6 years ago

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Daniel

Sarah you pushing the boundries a bit but it is a grey area. i would just be careful girl, i wouldnt do it. all that aside. i found this realy useful with some good tips and advice.

almost 6 years ago

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