Call Tracking for Digital Marketing

Call tracking is a tool that enables companies to attribute offline conversions to marketing efforts, including organic and paid search. Using JavaScript and a third-party tool, marketers can track the profitability of various referral sources.

Tracking phone calls is not a new feature but it’s still not widely used by small businesses. Before digital marketing, businesses could purchase additional phone numbers, which could be assigned to an advertising medium like a television commercial or billboard. Some phone directory publishers realized the value in call tracking and provided advertisers a unique phone number track calls resulting from advertising in the phone directory.

The goal hasn’t changed from the days of the phone directory: Attribute profitable action to advertising spend.

The large number of referral sources to your website can cause a tracking problem. Listing a static phone number on your website won’t suffice for tracking where traffic is coming from. But injecting a snippet of code and subscribing to a call tracking service solves this issue and adds value to your marketing efforts.

How Call Tracking Works

The first step to start tracking phone calls is a developer adding a JavaScript on each page you want tracked on the site. The call tracking solution then dynamically replaces a text-based number on the website with a variable number based on the referral source. Purchasing a unique phone number for each referring medium is required to correctly track referral sources. Referring mediums can be organic Google traffic, Google AdWords traffic or any other part of your campaign like a banner ad placed on a specific industry-relevant site.

With the JavaScript added to the site and your selected referrals, site visitors coming to the site are served different phone numbers. When a site visitor calls the tracked phone number, the call redirects to your main designated line.The caller is not privy to the redirection.

Let’s now take a look at two variants of call tracking — standard and keyword-level call tracking.

Standard Call Tracking

Standard call tracking is the most cost-effective call tracking option with just the dedicated phone numbers and call minutes driving price. With this option, marketers see which medium sent converting traffic to your site and some caller information:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Time of the call
  • Duration of the call
  • Location of caller’s phone number
  • Call recording

Here’s a sample report from Digital Third Coast’s call tracking solution.

This is some powerful information for a marketer but it leaves out one important detail — which keyword triggered the call?

Keyword Level Call Tracking

If keyword level data is information that you can’t live without, you can purchase a call tracking solution that captures which keyword triggers a call. Though, you’ll typically pay more for this data. When a call is attributed to a keyword, many, many more phone numbers are needed depending on your click volume. For example, a smaller PPC campaign with under 1,000 clicks/month costs about $125/month for keyword level call tracking. The data can be very useful, but will typically not come cheap.

Information versus Cost

It’s important to understand what information you’ll receive through call tracking but it’s probably more important to understand how you’ll use this information.

  • If you want to know how effective your PPC campaign truly is at producing offline leads for your business, look no further than call tracking.
  • If you want to know which hours most of your paid media calls are incoming so you can limit your campaign to only profitable times of the day, then standard call tracking is probably good for you.
  • If you want to optimize your paid media campaign performance based on which keywords help produce calls, you might want to try out keyword level call tracking. Are these the same keywords that trigger online conversions? Are there any surprises? Often, a surprise or two will surface and these little gems can make your long-term ROI improve.

Regardless of which version you choose, call tracking provides some level of insight not obtainable through any of your other marketing metrics. For this reason, DTC highly recommends using call tracking to better understand your marketing efforts for both your SEO and paid media campaigns.

Google My Business — Best Practices for Local Business

Google My Business is a free Google resource for local businesses. It allows a business owner to provide valuable information directly to Google, which helps a business appear in local results for both brand and non-brand queries. This guide details each section of the Google My Business platform to help you best leverage this free tool.

The home screen of Google My Business for signed-out users

Best Practices for Google My Business

The Google My Business dashboard is navigated by its left-hand menu. This guide walks through each section of the menu.

Home

This section is the default entry point for users. Here, business owners can adjust the core information about their company. Owners can quickly: create a post, add a photo, or create an ad. In addition, owners can quickly see the latest customer photos and reviews. Also featured on the homepage is a snapshot of your business analytics (views on maps and search), a link to create a virtual tour, a link to access more analytics and a link to the Google My Business app. 

  • Manage Photos (add photos of your business)
    • Upload an exterior shot of your entrance so customers know they are in the right place
      • Tip: If there’s a landmark or distinct object in front of your building, include it
    • Upload a welcoming shot of your lobby or immediate interior
    • Add photos of anything that makes your location or business unique or a unique selling proposition
    • Add photos any time you have something worthwhile to share
    • Flag inappropriate “By Customer” photos
    • Post photos to the most specific location – such as “interior,” “exterior,” “products” or “team”
  • Add a Virtual Tour

Posts

Posts allow you to share interesting information with your potential customers. These posts display in your local listing knowledge graph and help increase engagement. Note that posts expire after 7 days. You’ll receive an email notification when your post is set to expire.

  • Share relevant information with customers regarding:
    • Events
    • Specials
    • Business offers
    • Milestones
    • Flash sales
    • Employee of the month

Info

In this section, you can enter and adjust your core business attributes.

  • Ensure your mailing address is correct
    • Google looks for consistency between all your online listings (hours, address, business name, phone number). If your address is inconsistent in different online resources, this diminishes the trust you’re building with Google
  • List your  business hours and any special hours your business might have
  • List your correct phone number for this location — not a call tracking number
    • Tip: Don’t include your vanity phone number here
  • Include your main website URL and an appointment URL (like a contact page)
  • List your correct and relevant business services and attributes
  • Include a business description
  • Add your opening date of this location
  • Include photos of the business
  • Add a store code (based on your own organization structure)
    • Note: This is typically used in larger companies and can help with organization
  • Add labels if you need to sort through many listings (recommended for large companies with many local listings)

Insights

Insights are like Google Analytics for your local listing. Here, you’ll see data about how customers are finding and interacting with your local listing.

Image of the Insights section of Google My Business showing graphs and statistics

  • Learn valuable insights about your audience’s interactions with your Google My Business listing:
    • How did visitors discover you?
      • Were they a direct (branded) visit?
      • Did they discover you through a non-branded keyword?
    • How many people found your business through search?
    • How many people found your business through Maps?
    • How many people clicked for directions?
      • Tip: You can see a heat map of their location
      • Tip: A breakdown by zip code and county is available
    • How many people visited your website?
    • How many people clicked to call your business?
      • Tip: You can sort phone calls by day
    • How are your businesses similar to yours performing?
      • Learn how many people viewed your photos vs businesses like you
      • Learn how many photos you have compared to similar businesses

Reviews

Reviews are a very powerful form of social proof.  Your aggregate review score will show up alongside your listing. The better your reviews, the more likely someone will be to interact with your listing over your competitor’s listing. In the top section of your reviews, you can toggle between reviews you have replied to and those you haven’t yet. This makes replying to all reviews easier than ever.

Interested in better managing your reviews? We’d love to hear more and share how we can help. Let’s talk.

  • Respond to reviews — both good and bad
    • Tip: You can respond to reviews right from the Review Dashboard, making this process easy
    • Note: This is a bit different from Yelp, which suggests you only respond to negative reviews
    • Tip: Be as objective as possible (your responses are public), always stick to the facts and share proof to help validate your side of the story while providing a delightful experience

Messaging

Messaging is a new service in Google My Business and allows you to interact with your potential customers via text message. As mobile search continues to grow, this can be a powerful way to give customers feedback in real time. 

text messaging on phone between customer and company

  • Activate chat (if you have someone on staff who can accept SMS messages from customers), which is a great way to communicate with potential customers and answer questions in real time
    • Note: There are currently no options for when this is available, so you might be fielding texts at 3 am

 

Website

Don’t have a business yet? Google has your back and can get you online.

  • Create a business website using Google’s themes and styles using their WYSIWYG design platform
    • Please note: DTC has not tested this feature

Users

From here you can control which staff members and partners have access to manage and view your Google My Business account.

  • Provide access to your partners and people responsible for updating your Google My Business
    • Tip: Periodically review this section and remove old employees and legacy web partners

Create an Ad

It wouldn’t be Google if they didn’t pitch advertising! 

  • Advertise your business on AdWords
    • Note: DTC offers expert PPC management services if you need help

Add New Location

Great news! You’re growing! No need to create a separate account — you can manage all of your locations from the Google My Business dashboard.

Locations page of Google My Business to add additional business locations

  • Add additional locations under the same master Google My Business account

Manage Locations

Great news! You’re growing! No need to create a separate account — you can manage all of your locations from the GMB dashboard.

  • Add additional locations under the same master Google My Business account

Settings

In this section, you can customize your Google My Business experience.

  • Set your default language, preferred email and alerts preferences
  • Set alerts for new reviews
  • Enable alerts for changes to the health of your listing
  • Be sure to also download the Google My Business app for control when you’re away from your office

Support

Confused with Google My Business? This section provides some baseline help and guidance.

  • Search through the FAQs and most popular Google My Business articles.
    • Tip: You can also contact Google, depending on the issue, though this will route you through a troubleshooting wizard to try to solve your issue without a direct contact first

If you have an AdWords PPC account with DTC, your account manager will be able to help you connect with Google to solve your problem through our Premier Partner status with Google!


Interested in learning more about digital marketing? Check out these valuable resources: 

What do I do When I’m Getting Fewer Paid Clicks Than I Used To?

Search is a living thing. It’s powered by people who change and who adapt and who create and follow new trends. Therefore, change is part of the game when it comes to search marketing, from new features to seasonality to user interface designs of the tools we use. One of the most frustrating changes that happen in a PPC account is seeing clicks decline on a previously profitable ad group. So what happened? In this post, I’m going to review some of the ways we can diagnose what’s going on in your account, and then we’ll look at a few things you and your team can do to get back on track. Continue reading “What do I do When I’m Getting Fewer Paid Clicks Than I Used To?”

Why You Should Care About Google’s Crawl Budget

If you’re a marketer or business owner, you’re probably not like me. I’m thrilled by the technical side of SEO—from image optimization to canonicalization. Of course, while the details might not be that interesting to you, it’s likely that you do care about improving the search performance of, and user experience delivered by, your website. Because if you care about how much money your website makes, search performance and user experience are important. Even if you’re not interested in the technical details, it’s helpful to understand one of the most important, underlying principles behind technical SEO. Why? Because Google’s algorithm contains hundreds of ranking factors—many of them on-site, and this algorithm is updated daily. By understanding what Google wants in a website, you’ll be able to stay on pace with its constantly changing algorithm. So, what does Google want?

 

What Google Wants

If you head over to Google’s “about” page, here’s what is says:

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Oh, OK, that’s easy. All Google wants is to crawl and organize the 30 trillion plus webpages that make up the Internet.

How to understand Google's crawl budget 30 trillion pages is a very large Rolodex.

 

Like any service-based company, Google wants to deliver the best services it can to its customers, on time and on budget. That’s where crawl budget comes in. In its simplest terms, crawl budget is the amount of time, and/or number of pages that Google allocates to crawl the content of a website—yours included. One of Google’s biggest expenses is the maintenance of servers and the amount of bandwidth needed to index the entire Internet. Which means that if your website is like a dusty, poorly organized, Rolodex, Googlebot will crawl a few of your pages and come back later. In some cases, much later.

Google has five times as many servers as Facebook Image from Quicksprout (click to view the full infographic).

 

On the other hand, if Googlebot can index your pages more efficiently than your competitors, they’ll be more likely to crawl your site more frequently. Which means that if you’re constantly adding new content to your site, or implementing a keyword map or recommendations from a technical audit, your results will improve far more quickly.

How Often is Google Crawling My Website?

Great question! You can find the answer in your Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) account if you have one enabled. If not, here’s how to set it up. If you click the “Crawl” menu on the list, and then “Crawl Stats,” you’ll see some graphs like this one.

Google crawl stats from webmaster tools Digital Third Coast’s crawl stats (click to expand).

 

So Google is crawling around half the URLs on our site, on average, every day. If, however, your crawls are more sporadic, you might need to give Google more of what it wants.

How to Give Google What it Wants

If Google wants to use its crawl budget effectively, how can you help it do so while improving your SEO results in the process? Here are five things everyone who works on your business’ website should be aware of.

Site speed:

The faster Google can crawl your site, the better. Make sure that you’re following best practices and minimize any server errors so Google doesn’t have to spend time trying to ping a page that doesn’t exist. Bonus: improving your site speed also has major UX and conversion benefits.

Redirecting dead pages:

Make sure to redirect any dead pages to a new page that makes sense for the user. And good news, most page authority from that page is passed along to the new one, too!

Follow blog best practices:

If your business has a blog or news section, the only pages that need to be indexed are individual posts and the homepage of the blog or news section. Far too frequently, I find a new client’s category and tag pages being pulled into Google’s index when they provide no value to searchers. The value lies in the post itself, so make sure you noindex any category, tag or archive pages.

Remove old product pages: 

If you have an old page with last year’s models of a given product, you should redirect the product page once the product is sold out. If you must keep the old page, simply add a noindex tag so that Google drops the old product from the SERPs. After all, we want searchers to land on the page that has something to buy!

Block duplicate content:

Sometimes you need to copy and paste instructions from a manufacturer’s website because of the utility to your customers. Since this page already exists on the web, you should make sure to noindex the page or block it in the robots.txt. Google doesn’t want to index a page that is identical to another version on a different website. So if you have five sets of manufacturer’s instructions, these can all live in an /instructions directory that is blocked within your robots.txt file.

BONUS ITEM: Sitemaps!

Make sure your sitemaps are up to date; including key category and product pages in your sitemap will ensure they’re pulled into the index. Make sure to declare your sitemaps in your robots.txt, and submit them through Bing and Google Search Console. You can check that Google is indexing the pages in your sitemaps without index bloat on your Search Console’s dashboard.

Google search console sitemaps Digital Third Coast’s pages indexed vs. pages submitted.

 

Make Life Easy for Google

And, Google will make life more profitable for you. Google cares first and foremost about delivering a great user experience, so bear in mind that any changes you make to your site to make the most of Google’s crawl budget also are likely to improve the experience that a user has on your site. A technical audit considers crawl budget and other onsite issues that may be holding back to your SEO results.

Creating Customer Profiles in Google Analytics

Many business owners will pay brand agencies a lot of money to help them develop customer profiles. Businesses spend a lot of time and energy to survey customers and mine the responses to get the data they need. It’s important to create customer profiles to not only understand who your customers are, but to provide them with a better experience as well. In addition to this, customer profiles can also help you market to customers better and more efficiently. But what if I told you that you can get all of the information you need to create a customer profile for free? Below are five ways that you can get data within Google Analytics to build your customer profiles: Continue reading “Creating Customer Profiles in Google Analytics”

Comparing Your Marketing Channels with Custom Dashboards

Many times I pity Don Draper. Not because of his amazing good looks, high-rolling lifestyle or his success with the ladies. Well, I do envy those things about him. While I may not be as handsome, or rich, or as ‘successful’ as he is, I have something he doesn’t – the ability to compare marketing channels with ease.  Continue reading “Comparing Your Marketing Channels with Custom Dashboards”

How to Create Your Branded Negative Keyword Strategy for Google AdWords PPC Accounts

Branded campaigns in paid search are often the most profitable and successful PPC campaigns a business can create. It’s no wonder why this is; branded campaigns receive the benefit of all prior branding work, so if you’re not seeing success through brand campaigns, it’s because you haven’t yet built your brand. But there is a hidden problem that creeps into both branded and non-branded campaigns alike – dishonest attribution. In this post, we’re going to explore how you can properly plan out your branded and non-branded negative keyword strategy so you can make your campaigns a little more honest. Continue reading “How to Create Your Branded Negative Keyword Strategy for Google AdWords PPC Accounts”

The What and Why of Negative Keywords

Explaining negative keywordsNote: This is Part 1 of a three-part series on negative keywords. Part 2  details reach of audience and audience relevancy. Part 3 provides a valuable list of negative keywords to improve your campaign and increase your ROI.  

Negative keywords are a cornerstone of effective PPC account management. Most commonly a feature employed in Google AdWords and Bing Ads, negative keywords can cut your costs, increase your Click Through Rate (CTR) and help focus the association between your keywords and your ads. In this post, you’ll find information on what negative keywords are and how you might use negative keywords to boost your PPC results; you’ll also be able to download a list of common negative keywords and a guide on how to use the these negative keywords in your own account. Continue reading “The What and Why of Negative Keywords”

PPC Tips for the Holiday Shopping Season

PPC tips for holiday shopping online It’s no secret the holiday shopping season is big business, and this is no different for PPC advertising. To add to that, research shows that holiday shopping online is expected to rise to 36% of all online shopping, thanks to the convenience of being able to shop anytime and often getting free shipping. Since everyone knows this, gaining an advantage with your holiday shopping ads can be tough, but by following some of the tips below, you should be in a good position to have success through PPC this holiday shopping season.

Continue reading “PPC Tips for the Holiday Shopping Season”