Ok, so you've got Google Analytics on your site and you're tracking your goals and making changes on your site based on your reports. You've got your PPC conversion tracking codes on your site so you can better optimize your site based on actual user search queries and account metrics you can't see through analytics. You seem to have your bases covered. But what happens when your business does a large portion of their conversions offline? This is when you'd want to use call tracking on your website!

Call tracking is by no means a new feature available to advertisers, but it's still not widely used in the small business landscape. For years, business owners could purchase additional phone numbers. These phone numbers could then be assigned to an advertising medium, such as a television commercial or billboard. Some Yellow Page providers saw the value in call tracking, and gave advertisers a unique phone number they could use to track phone calls that resulted from advertising in the big old book.

The end goal has always been there: Attributing profitable action to advertising spend.

Today many businesses have made the jump online. The problem is, there are so many referral sources, so many places from which web traffic comes, and only one website. With one website, it's pretty typical (and almost always preferred) that be only only one phone number listed. Putting a unique phone number on a website just won't suffice for tracking purposes when web traffic can come from so many different sources, and that's where today's call tracking solutions come into play.

If you have a website, a text based phone number on your website, and if you have the ability to add a snippet of code to your site, then you are a good call tracking candidate.

How it Works
Call tracking works by having a developer add a piece of javascript on each page of the site to be tracked. The call tracking solution then dynamically replaces a text based number on the website with another phone number based on how someone found the site in the first place. Unfortunately, this solution does have drawbacks, such as having to purchase a separate phone number for each referring medium in order to track it effectively. A referring medium can be something as simple as organic Google traffic, Google AdWords traffic, or maybe something as specific as a banner ad bought on some industry relevant site. Regardless, in order to track a unique traffic medium, a unique number will be needed.

With the code added to the site, and the mediums to track selected, people coming to the site will now be served different phone numbers!

Once a site visitor calls the tracking phone number, the call will actually redirect to the recipient's main designated line - probably the standard contact phone number on your site. In other words, there is no hint to the caller that their call is being redirected at all.

With call tracking, an advertiser has two options - Standard and keyword level call tracking.

Standard Call Tracking
On the cheaper end of call tracking, each dedicated phone number will need to payed for, as will the call minutes used. The features and reports that come with the standard call tracking option includes seeing which medium sent converting traffic to your site, some caller information such as caller name and phone number (where available), time of the call, duration of the call, place of where the caller's phone number is registered and it can even include call recording.

Here's a sample report from Digital Third Coast's Call Tracking solution.

EZ call tracking report

This is some powerful information, but it's leaving out one important detail: which keyword actually triggered the call?

Keyword Level Call Tracking
If keyword level data is information that you can't live without, you can purchase a call tracking solution that captures which keyword trigger a call, but you'll typically pay a bit more for this data. When a call is attributed to a keyword, many, many more phone numbers are needed depending on your click volume. For example, a smaller PPC campaign with under 1,000 clicks/month costs about $125/month for keyword level call tracking. The data can be very useful, but it will typically not come cheap.

Is the information you receive worth the associated cost?
It's important to understand what information you will be getting through call tacking and it's maybe more important to understand how you will be using this information. If you want to know how effective your PPC campaign truly is at producing offline leads for your business, look no further that call tracking. If you want to know which hours most of you PPC call are coming in so you can limit your campaign to only run during certain times of the day, then standard call tracking is probably good for you. If you want to optimize your PPC campaign's performance based on which keywords help produce call, you might want to try out keyword level call tracking. Are these same keywords that trigger online conversions? Are there any surprises? Often, there will be a surprise or two, and these little gems can make your long term ROI all the higher. For instance, in the picture below, maybe cutting any paid search on Sunday could be a good takeaway.

leads per day

Regardless of which way you choose to go with call tracking, it will typically provide some level of insight unobtainable though any of your other marketing metrics. For this reason, DTC highly recommends using call tracking to better understand change over time in both your SEO and SEM campaigns.