This post is a guest post by Julie DelCueto
Analytics and ecommerce have completely changed our outlook on marketing. We’ve forgotten (happily) what it’s like to have the customer walk in, buy and walk out never really knowing if they saw our billboard, heard our radio ad, or were driving by and liked our sign. As easily as breathing, we track our conversions on our PPC campaigns, we measure how much traffic we get from natural search and calculate the ROI on our SEO spend. However, there are still plenty of companies who don’t use their site to sell online in a manner that is traceable via a computer. Many “sales” for online businesses require that they be completed using a fax or a telephone. For example, Prodpromo gets 100% of their business through Internet traffic; they do not have any external sales source. However, not a single transaction is completed online. How can Prodpromo track their sales? Many other types of businesses also have this problem. Any accounting firm, law firm, or doctor might be using the Internet to generate leads, not complete sales. Tracking these types of customers requires a little ingenuity and the implementation of a good phone conversion tracking system.
Google has added a new tool that works in conjunction with Google AdWords. It is called Google AdWords Call Metrics and is available to US and Canadian customers. Google’s hefty price tag at $1 a call may be a deal breaker for some, but for businesses heavily invested in AdWords this might be exactly what they need to track offline conversions and correlate the data with their AdWord campaigns.
Google AdWord Call Metrics was introduced last year in November to a select number of customers. The service uses unique toll free phone numbers that appear next to any AdWord advertising. When a customer calls the number next to the ad, Google forwards the call to your business and charges you $1.00. Then a Google Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system records call start and end times, duration, status and area code anytime a user calls the number attached to the AdWord. Google is also making this call data available on the AdGroup and Campaign level for larger websites (suggested by beta testers) and the access point of the call is also now traceable (from either a cell phone, computer or landline).
The advantage of this new call-tracking tool for AdWords customers is obvious. There is an entire section of the population that more readily call/converts than computer/converts. For larger businesses with call centers and especially for those that are already heavily invested in AdWords this is a fabulous new tool. For businesses (like the ones mentioned above) that convert entirely offline Call Metrics may be the tool they need to locate their customers and optimize their websites. The costs for mobile clicks-to-calls remain unchanged. Businesses will still need to institute a way to correlate call conversions with actual sales.
Google, Google You’re Anything but Frugal
For anyone who was noticing, Google was also running a test on their new instant previews the weekend of 7/16 -7/17/2011. It is tempting to speculate that all of these new access points are attempts to broaden and enhance Google’s revenue streams. Robert Rose has speculated that Call Metrics is the beginning of a new Pay-per-call Google marketplace where Internet users will bid for Pay-per-call AdWords.
Goggle Call Metric Alternative, How Small Businesses Can Track Phone Call Conversions Cheaply
From the perspective of a small business, paying an extra dollar a phone call sounds a bit like budget suicide. Luckily, the premise behind Google AdWords Call Metrics is really simple: use unique phone numbers for online ad campaigns and then track the data. The facilities to do this are relatively cheap and easy anymore using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) virtual phone services. By attaching VoIP numbers to your online ads yourself you can track them for a whole lot less per month. These services also include additional features like toll-free numbers, auto answering, virtual departments and extensions, fax lines and caller ID. You can tailor the services and easily add features and have numbers forwarded.
Internet phone of any sort still has drawbacks. VoIP calls are fielded through the Internet and consequently any broadband issues can interfere with your phone calls. Moreover, sometimes echo and quality are still a problem with virtual phone systems. In addition, there is the remote possibility that your virtual phone system could be hacked into. However, any Google Call Metrics number will also have all these same drawbacks.
Some top providers of VoIP include: