Why PPC Agencies Should Include Call Tracking in All AdWords Plans

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In early 2012, we here at White Shark Media were at a cross roads. We had acknowledged the need for call tracking for quite some time, but the interest to sign up with our call tracking partner wasn’t as high as we wanted it to be.

 

We wanted 90% of all local-based Clients to sign up for dynamic call tracking, which would allow us to optimize AdWords a lot more efficiently.

 

Our current Clients could see the value in our idea, and they almost unanimously told our Account Executives that it was a great thing to do. However, they just didn’t want to pay for it immediately after having signed up for a full AdWords management plan.

 

We therefore decided to include call tracking, at our expense, in all our AdWords management plans and boy did we see a change. In this post, I’ll review some of the thoughts that went through our minds when we chose to include call tracking.

 

 

Optimizing for CTR vs. Conversions

 

A good best practice if you don’t have conversion or call tracking, is to rely on your keywords’ CTR and ads to determine success.

 

Even though it’s a widely recognized practice, it’s flawed in many ways. By solely relying on CTR, you can write ads that are speaking to the majority of searchers.

 

But by speaking to the majority, you’re most likely not influencing anyone enough to make them convert on your website. I’ve personally seen hundreds of AdWords ads where the ad with the highest clickthrough rate didn’t actually result in the highest conversion rate.

 

It’s usually the other way around.

 

Optimizing Only for CTR is a Great Way to Pay Google More

 

Even though CTR is a hugely important factor and should always be taken into account when optimizing, you should never focus solely on CTR. By focusing solely on CTR, you’re actually only unnecessarily paying Google more money.

 

The higher the CTR, the more clicks you get, and the more you pay Google. So does this mean that you shouldn’t optimize for CTR if you don’t have conversion data?

 

No, not by a long shot. It’s always better to have something to optimize towards and if you truly don’t have any way of installing tracking (most people do however), then optimizing for CTR can be the lesser of two evils. Optimizing for CTR is better than not having anything to optimize at all.

 

Missed Opportunities – Customers with Immediate Needs aren’t Tracked

 

Another scenario is when you have a prominent contact form on your website that you’re tracking. Novice advertisers might think that this is enough to give you an estimate for what keywords are bringing in conversions.

 

But the reality is that the visitors that choose to use a contact form are very different from the ones choosing to pick up the phone and calling you.

 

The visitors that are visiting your site with an immediate need, will definitely call you to get their problem sorted right away. Especially for plumbers or roofer calls; this can be their main source of leads.

 

This can also reflect within your AdWords campaign if you’re solely tracking contact form submissions. All keywords and ads focused on emergency services (for instance, emergency plumbing repair) might see a very low contact form conversion rate. By implementing call tracking, you will be able to track these conversions too and thereby broaden the scope of your otherwise successful AdWords campaign.

 

Internet Savvy vs. the Average Joe

 

While more Internet savvy visitors will not shy away from using a contact form, less Internet savvy visitors will most likely pick up the phone and call you instead.

 

Within your particular industry, the majority of your customers may not be Internet savvy. By optimizing your AdWords campaign based on the number of conversions generated via a contact form, you risk ignoring the majority of your potential customers.

 

 

 

One-to-One vs. Dynamic Call Tracking

 

When choosing call tracking solutions, I normally recommend either of the following two levels of service:

 

1)   One-to-One Call Tracking

2)   Dynamic Call Tracking

 

One-to-One Call Tracking

 

One-to-One call tracking means that you’re tracking one source per phone number. If you’re using one-to-one call tracking for your AdWords campaign, then you would only observe how many calls your entire AdWords campaign generates.

 

It’s not possible to see conversion data for individual campaigns, ad groups or keywords, which is essential for optimizing AdWords campaigns successfully.

 

If you’re unsure about how many calls your campaign is generating, then you can start out with only one-to-one call tracking. This will give you an estimate of how many calls the campaign is generating.

 

If at any point, you start registering decent call volume (50 calls a month, for example), then I’d recommend you switch to dynamic call tracking.

 

Dynamic Call Tracking

 

Dynamic call tracking on the other hand, relies on a piece of JavaScript code within your website. This little piece of code dynamically changes for every search term, keyword, ad, ad group and campaign within your AdWords campaign.

 

This is where the magic happens. You can now see conversion data for each keyword and ad. This will enable you to find the keyword and ad combination that will generate the largest amount of revenue for you.

 

For advertisers who are serious about their online marketing endeavors, rest assured I stand behind dynamic call tracking 100%.

 

Dynamic Call Tracking Pays for Itself

 

Even though dynamic call tracking can be quite expensive, I haven’t seen an instance where it didn’t pay off directly in the subsequent AdWords optimization stage.

 

By knowing exactly what keywords and ads are generating a higher conversion rate, you can then focus on these elements, which will then let your campaign reach higher levels of profit.

 

Dynamic call tracking is essential when it comes to proper bid management of AdWords campaigns.

 

Calculate the Estimated Value of a Conversion – and Bid Accordingly

 

One of the hardest things to carry out in an AdWords account is bid management without a clear cost-per-conversion goal.

 

By having access to dynamic call tracking data, you can set an estimated value-per-call/conversion and ensure that every one of your keywords are at a profitable level.

 

You can calculate your estimated value-per-call by finding out roughly how many calls turn into paying customers.

 

When you know this percentage, you can then calculate your average first time sale (some also calculate the 2nd and 3rd sale). By identifying these two numbers, you can measure your estimated value-per-call.

 

Example:

 

100 Calls * 25% (Average Closing Sale: $100) = $2,500 in Revenue

 

You can read more about how to perform bid management in AdWords based on conversion data in my article on SEODesk.org

 

We Couldn’t be Without It

 

By implementing call tracking in our AdWords management plans, we became more successful in our firm’s overall mission and our Account Executives had fewer frustrations in their day-to-day jobs.

 

Our Account Executives now have access to as much data as possible and can talk directly with their Clients about the results without any need to guess or estimate. It’s all in the reports and it has really helped us lower our churn-rate for local businesses.

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  • Jordash

    What tools do you use to setup Dynamic Call Tracking? It’s a super complicated system to setup and I haven’t found a solution that seems to make it any easier.

    • http://twitter.com/AndrewLolk Andrew Lolk

      Hey Jordash,

      We’ve tried out a couple of providers. We ended up choosing Marchex as our official partner for regular Call tracking, but realized that the keyword level call tracking was indeed time-consuming to set up.

      We’ve also worked closely with Mongoose Metrics on several occasions and even though they’re the most expensive, then the quality is top-notch and implementation is easy.

      Send me a message on Twitter and I can try to set you up with our contact.

      Kind regards, Andrew Lolk..

    • cec

      If you have a developer on staff, they can help you to set it up without using a specific provider. Then you can order your own call forwarding lines, and ultimately save money (maybe even make a small margin for management of the lines). I wholeheartedly agree that agencies should track calls. Typically 50% of conversions happen offline. I do find it humorous that this blog is on PPC Hero, considering, as a previous client, I know that Hanapin Marketing does not have a call tracking strategy. Whiteshark FTW.

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewLolk Andrew Lolk

    Hey Richard,

    I’m glad you liked it!

    It has been crucial to local search success for us.

  • http://twitter.com/timothyjjensen Timothy Jensen

    Agree 100%. We’ve seen huge success adding call tracking to campaign and reporting total leads/conversion rates/cost per lead based on adding phone calls and website form leads together. Win-win all around for us and the clients

  • http://twitter.com/_ericm Eric Marshall

    Hi Andrew – as a marketer with an agency who does an equal amount of SEO work and PPC work, I know the importance of using consistent phone numbers online as it relates to ranking well in the local search results (particularly Google). When setting up dynamic call tracking for locally focused businesses do you take this into account? That’s the main thing that holds me back from call tracking – making sure that there aren’t a bunch of phone numbers floating around on the web for a particular business. Any thoughts?

    • George

      Eric,

      Google’s crawls do not tigger the JS code that fires to swap the number. Generally speaking, Google will see the number on the site as it exits now.

      Also keep in mind that these service out there that provide dynamic call tracking are there to give us more data to help improve conversions, Google is likes this : ).