This year, call commerce is expected to top $1 trillion as more and more people are returning to a personal form of engagement, phoning a business. Add that to the ubiquity of mobile phones, nearing 80% penetration in the U.S., and call tracking and analytics become absolutely necessary for accurately measuring return on ad spend.
Google validated that assessment for many of us in the call tracking and analytics industry when they introduced call conversion tracking for PPC campaigns in 2014. Then, just a few months ago, in October 2016, they announced the addition of text messaging, once again validating the shift some of us in call analytics had already noticed and implemented.
The huge conversion lift that text messaging gives marketers across channels deserves to be the subject of a completely different conversation, so check out our post on text messaging to go a little deeper.
Let’s focus on calls and why you should take the next step if you are already using Google call conversion tracking options.
Without going into the specific differences between the many call tracking companies, there are a couple of significant differences between what Google offers and what the call tracking and analytics industry provides.
Google’s Website Call Conversion is available to anyone who has an AdWords account and is part of the benefits of already running PPC campaigns, with one small caveat. Just as you would be paying for each click to your website, you will also be bidding on and paying for calls. So even though the service is free to start, it isn’t free to run. That puts the cost of the free service on par with most call and text tracking companies.2. Tracking the Source of Traffic
Google’s offering only tracks calls from PPC campaigns. If all you’re interested in is tracking the calls from paid search, then Google’s offering may be all that you need. If you want to track the calls coming from virtually any traffic source, then a call tracking company may be the best option.
One of our clients used call tracking to compare the cost-per-lead from Google and Bing. They found that although Google brought in more leads, it was actually more cost-effective to shift their advertising spend to Bing. That kind of search engine comparison is simply unavailable to companies using Google’s call tracking product.
Google’s call tracking numbers only belong to your company for a maximum of 90 days and not for the duration of your campaign. If a person saves that call tracking number on their phone and then attempts to contact you outside of that period, then they could reach anyone, even one of your competitors.
Most call tracking companies offer dedicated phone numbers that belong to you for the duration of your campaign and can be bought after the contract has ended to guarantee that callers reach your company and not your competitors.
4. Phone Number Inventory
Google may not be able to find local numbers or toll-free numbers for your business. Many call tracking companies have established relationships with telco providers and can get the numbers you need and even vanity numbers if they are required. Call tracking companies are also able to port numbers, which means you can transfer any number that you may be already using and turn it into a call tracking number.
5. Clean Numbers
Google’s numbers can’t be guaranteed to be clean from residual calls, especially since these numbers are transferred after just 90 days. Telmetrics’ numbers go through an extensive quarantine process to ensure the numbers are free from nuisance calls. Such calls can dilute the accuracy of call analytics and take up valuable time for staff and call center agents.
6. Call Analytics
Call analytics will track calls from your ads no matter how many clicks your ads receive. Google, in contrast, may replace their forwarding number with your business number if you don’t receive the minimum number of clicks from your ad group or if the ads are consistently being viewed on desktop. To get complete data for a full picture of your ad performance, consistent and reliable data is fundamental and will power better decision-making.
7. Depth of Call Details
Google provides only the area code for the caller’s number and the number of conversions. Which can be enough if all you need to know is if the number was local. Even the most basic call analytics provides the caller’s number, the termination number (or the actual physical business number), the call tracking number, the date, the time, and length of the call.
The actual phone number can prove valuable if you would like to find out more details about your customer base. Rich customer profiles use the phone number to gather more extensive details about the caller that is publicly available online, including detailed demographic and behavioral insights.
Currently, Google’s product doesn’t offer call recording, scoring, and analysis. To assess the actual interaction, conversation analytics is invaluable. A phone call is recorded and then, using intelligent algorithms, it is scored according to whether it was a lead or a low-value call. It’s easy to see immediately how many leads a campaign, an advertisement or a specific keyword generated.
Call recordings can also be an immeasurable help to monitor and improve sales performance. A customer of ours provided the feature to his franchisees. One local business owner who had been in business for over 30 years was surprised by his agents’ on-the-phone demeanor. He realized that the way they were handling calls could be affecting his business and did put into place practical guidelines for on-the-phone behavior.
9. Message Extensions for Ads (Call Extensions 2.0)
In October 2016, Google rolled out message extensions on their ads, the next logical step for making the best use of mobile marketing. Text-enabled call tracking lines open up many of the same opportunities as third-party call analytics do for call extensions. They help brands manage their lead flow, offer smart data for straightforward decision-making while making it easy to use the chat platforms you already have.
We are excited about texting, but ... we promised to focus on call analytics. Reach out to us, if you would like to hear how our clients already use texting to get double the leads on the same ad spend.
Google’s call analytics are a great way to get your feet wet in call tracking and to see the immediate benefits. But its limitations are precisely what creates the opportunity for us in the call tracking and analytics industry to provide more value to marketers. We celebrate the fact that Google is helping draw attention to an industry that can truly bridge the gap between online and offline behavior.