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28 Mar 2013

Call Tracking: An Intro to Measuring Offline PPC Conversions

One of the distinct advantages of online PPC campaigns is the ability to measure the effectiveness of campaigns as they relate to certain ads, ad groups or even keywords. You can analyze these factors to understand which ones result in high click-through rates, and ultimately conversions or sales for you. These numbers are fairly easy to keep tabs on, because web analytics allow marketers to see exactly when and from where these clicks led to a conversion. But what about when one of these ads eventually leads to an offline action such as a phone call or a trip to a physical storefront?

Thankfully, you can utilize call tracking tools to gain a better sense of consumer behavior and how your campaigns directly influence your customers’ offline actions. Integrating call tracking gives you information that would otherwise go unmeasured if you relied solely on online conversion tracking tools. Being able to see online and offline conversions will allow you to better tailor existing and future campaigns for your target audience.

Utilizing call tracking tools is simple and you have two options for administering them into your campaigns. You can start by adding distinct phone numbers to your PPC ads. Depending on how you plan to measure conversions, you will assign a specific phone number to either an entire campaign or an individual ad.

Once the number has been designated you can choose to include them by either inserting them into the actual copy of the ads. Some online marketers find this option restrictive because including the number cuts into Google’s 35 character per line limit, or Bing’s 71 character overall ad limit. Do keep in mind that including a standard phone number in this format eats up 12 of your overall characters, which could otherwise act as valuable copy space to describe your good or service to customers.

In order to satisfy users who want to avoid filling ad copy, Google offers call extensions as an alternative. This allows advertisers to feature the designated phone number in addition to the existing ad space. This option can also prove attractive for potential customers using cell phones and tablets because they can click-to-call, creating an easy avenue for contact. Unfortunately, Bing does not have an equivalent feature at this time.

If you are already using display ads in addition to text ads, you can include the phone number directly into the visual design of the ad. You can also link this number digitally so that phone calls resulting from that ad get tracked as a lead.

Google also offers a unique service called Call Metrics, which is specifically for tracking phone calls. Unfortunately this kind of tracking does not measure the online conversions at the same time, so you’ll need to do some manual reporting to get the big picture about how your campaigns are performing overall.

Your other option is to include the unique number directly into your website’s pages (rather than just on a campaign or individual ad). You will need to install a Javascript snippet into your site’s code. Whenever a potential customer clicks through to your site, their visit will be assigned that unique tracking number. As the potential customer clicks through the pages of your site, the number will continue to trail their activity.  When they do finally make contact, this feature enables you to look back and know exactly which page or offer triggered their eventual phone call.

You may need to experiment with these tracking tools before you can determine which data is most informative for you. When you find your favorite way to analyze this information, you’ll be able to better craft your campaigns based on your understanding of successful keyword choices, ads that attracted the most phone calls or which campaigns attracted the most conversions over a period of time. Knowing these valuable details will make your business more successful in the long run.