Tracking phone leads back to search marketing

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All marketers with an inbound call channel should employ some method to incorporate phone leads and sales into the success metrics of their search campaigns. Developing a system that is right for your company and integrating it into your current campaigns will bring your reporting and optimizations full circle, provide a more accurate picture of the ROI driven by your search campaigns and enable better investment decisions.

To track inbound phone leads and sales, there are five proven methods that advertisers and marketers can employ in their search tactics. In order of effectiveness and accuracy, these tactics are the following: third party tracking companies, dynamic phone numbers, phone-lead driven media, call center surveying, and assumption-based reporting.

Companies that would benefit most from these types of methods include those that specialize in high-end services like travel and home improvement, as well as financial services. They are also useful for the telecommunications, automotive, legal, real estate, high-end retail, healthcare and catalog industries. 

Many of these types of companies involve consumer queries and the need for advice or guidance in making a decision that fits current needs. Product-based companies typically do not have a huge need for driving calls to a call center unless the product is expensive and has a variety of options or decisions attached to it such as cars or furniture.

So what is the right method for your business? If you have access to a pool of unique 800 numbers to assign to your online marketing campaigns at various levels and have a little extra budget to allocate to a third party service, then third party tracking companies (i.e. VoiceStar, eStara and Who's Calling) are a good choice. Or if your IT department is capable of implementing a dynamic phone number system within your Web site's html that calls upon a certain 800 number based on the source of the traffic, then dynamic phone numbers is the route to go. This keeps everything in-house and in the hands you trust.

If you are looking for additional phone traffic from your search campaigns, then test phone lead-driven media like Ingenio's Pay per Call or Superpages' Click to Call services. This will add incremental phone traffic to your current campaigns and provide in depth reporting on a variety of variables including length of call, origin of call (city, state), and customer phone number.

Last, some engines such as Google and Yahoo allow 800 numbers to be inserted into the text creative of search ads. Advertisers should test a unique and trackable phone number in their search marketing creative and monitor the impact of phone traffic.

Lindsay Blankenship is an associate search director in the Atlanta office of Avenue A | Razorfish. She may be reached at

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