Most Local SEO’s know that call tracking is something they should do but they don’t always know what to do with all the data once it’s collected. It’s important to make sure you’re not just tracking for the sake of tracking but to actually use the data to improve your performance and get your clients more leads – since that is the goal of everything we do!
After the great response we got from our previous call tracking post, Call Tracking and Local SEO – 5 Myths Busted, we decided to follow up by going through the benefits of using call tracking. Business owners often don’t realize how much information they can gather or what to do with the information once they get it. I’m going to go through the top reasons why we use call tracking for our clients and how it helps us make strategic marketing decisions.
1. Segmenting Calls
This is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for Local SEO and it’s usually what clients want to know – how are customers finding them? The answer to that question gives them an idea of their ROI from hiring you so you want to make sure you give them the correct answer. Using call tracking takes the guesswork out of the equation.
Segmenting the call source and medium is an important factor in determining ROI that often gets overlooked. It’s common for businesses to use one tracking number for all Local SEO efforts and while that will tell you if your SEO tactics are working overall, it won’t tell you how each specific area is performing. For example, overall call volume can be up year-over-year but without segmenting the calls by medium, you’ll have no idea what caused the increase. Was it from organic because you added some great content to the site? Or, was it from Maps because you spent a large amount of time trying to eliminate spam? The business can also be engaging in other types of marketing that you really shouldn’t be taking the credit for (I hate when this happens, but it happens).
It also helps when identifying a drop in leads – was it SEO related or something external? It’s much easier to give your clients solutions when you have real numbers to support your theories. Also, without knowing exactly where the calls are coming from there’s no way to know what tactics are worth replicating. You don’t want to be putting a ton of time and effort into a tactic that’s yielding no (or little) ROI.
Some common mediums we use to segment calls are:
- Google Organic (you can also segment different search engines – Yahoo, Bing, etc.)
- Google My Business (GMB)
- Google Ads
- A paid directory service (Yelp)
There really isn’t a “right” number of segments here. Every market and business is different and you need to find the right balance for the situation. When setting up the tracking numbers think about what will help you be better at your job and again, how you’re going to get your clients more leads?
This is another area that you want to segment when using call tracking. Most business owners have a general idea of what location drives the most leads but it’s important to know the real-world numbers. Maybe you started trying to get more calls for a particular location and you want to know if it’s working? Another reason for segmenting locations is to identify potential issues that wouldn’t otherwise be so obvious. For example, calls could seem consistent or even increase year-over-year but without call tracking, you might miss the fact that location A is actually increasing steadily while location B is rapidly declining. That’s something you’d want to address with the client immediately but without call tracking, it wouldn’t be as easy to identify.
2. Google Ads
If you’re running Google Ads to drive phone calls, it’s crucial that you’re tracking all the calls correctly. There are multiple ways to use call tracking for Google Ads and I’m going to cover the three that we use the most.
Keywords Driving Conversions
Using call tracking with Google Ads will tell you exactly which ads (and keywords) are getting calls. This data is invaluable! While there is some call tracking built into Google Ads, it doesn’t give you the same level of data as you get from external call tracking services. Knowing that an ad stopped performing after you tweaked the ad text or knowing what keywords are driving conversions is going to make your whole Ads account run much more efficiently.
Call Tracking on Location Extensions
Adding a tracking number to your location extension via Google My Business (GMB) is another great way to know where calls are coming from. You can see exactly how many people called from the local pack ad vs. regular ads vs. Google My Business (organic). This will help you determine where to focus more time and money. It is important to note that these calls never show up as conversions in Google Ads so if you’re not using call tracking for this, you’re literally not counting any of these calls as leads from Google Ads.
Day and Time Metrics
Knowing what time of day or day of the week your business gets the most calls can help you optimize your Google Ads account. Certain markets get the majority of their calls on specific days or between a certain time of the day and knowing this can help you adjust your bids during that time. For example, if you know that Monday morning between 10am-12pm is prime time for calls, increase your bid adjustment during that time to leverage that opportunity. You can also increase bid adjustments during times when calls are typically low to try to increase activity.
3. Call Recording
Call recording is an optional feature offered by most call tracking services and it makes all of the data you collected real. Numbers can be extremely helpful for analysis and strategic planning but at the end of the day, numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Listening to calls isn’t something we do regularly because it’s extremely boring and time-consuming but it can be helpful when trying to uncover a potential issue. Here are the four most common ways we use call recording:
What Services Are They Asking About?
The call tracking data tells us the number of phone call conversions. Tools like Google Ads and Google Analytics tell us the keywords and/or landing pages visitors converted on (to an extent). But once they call, what do they actually want? For example, for a lawn care company in Toronto you might see a lot of their clicks and conversions come from “lawn service” keywords. Lawn service can mean a lot of different things so what are the callers really looking for? Do they need weed control, seeding, landscaping, or a general mowing company? Listening to the call recordings gives you insights that can be easily overlooked when solely dealing with numbers and keywords.
The quality of the lead you’re providing is another issue you can uncover when listening to the call recordings. As you listen to the calls, make notes of how many are good quality leads (leads that will likely become clients/customers). If you find that a majority of the leads are low quality (looking for a service the business doesn’t offer), you can make adjustments like turning off an ad group or retarget the ads to try to pull in the right target audience.
How is Staff Handling Calls?
When listening to the calls, we also like to label them by how they were handled by the office staff. When you’re listening to the calls, make notes on how the person answering the phone interacts with the leads. Is the person answering the calls rude, giving out wrong information, or consistently not booking appointments? The business owner usually isn’t answering the calls. In most cases, they’re answered by a receptionist or answering service so the business owner might not be aware of potential issues with staff. We once had a client tell us that they hadn’t had a new client appointment in several months. Once we listened to their calls, we were able to identify that the issue was them not having appointment time slots available when new leads called. That’s a huge problem – but outside our scope of work.
Some common labels we use include:
- New lead
- Current client
- No answer – hangup
- Put on hold – hangup
If you have a client who says their leads have dropped but the call volume doesn’t tell the same story, you can listen to the calls to get more information. If you find that 30% of the calls last month weren’t answered, you know the issue isn’t necessarily SEO or ad-related.
Using call tracking with Local SEO can give you a level of granular data that you can’t get from using Google Analytics. While the benefits I listed above isn’t an exhaustive list of everything call tracking can do for you, it’s a great place to start. The more you use call tracking the more benefits you’ll get out of it. There is no secret sauce here, every market/business is different. The most important thing is having all the information so you can make the best decision for your clients.