What is call tracking?

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What is call tracking?

Call tracking is the process of determining how callers found your business. Marketing and sales teams can use call tracking data to measure the success of advertising campaigns and optimize future marketing strategy.

When did call tracking start?

Call tracking in some form has existed since telephones were first invented and used for business. While it was rudimentary compared to current methods, businesses have been asking, “How did you hear about us?” to first time callers for a century. By asking their customers how they discovered the company, business owners could attribute the client to specific actions or campaigns. Fast forward to today, and many businesses still use the “how did you hear about us?” method to determine what is driving the most calls and new customers.

Call tracking has evolved since the telephone was first used for businesses, though, and there are now more precise ways to determine how a lead got your business’s phone number with full featured lead tracking software.

How has call tracking evolved?

Asking a caller how they got your phone number leads to information about which of a company’s campaigns are performing well, but it could also lead to misattribution. Chances are that the customer probably had more than one touchpoint before converting and making the call. Their answer to how they got your information is typically the last touchpoint they encountered. This is called Last Touch Attribution and gives 100% of the credit for a sale or a conversion to the last touchpoint a customer encountered.

Marketers also tracked conversions with input codes that the user would have to include manually. These were often used for online conversions and provided the user with incentives (like discounts and add ons) to use the code. These codes then told marketers how the customer made the choice to purchase based on where the source of that code was. Marketers would use a different code for each source (PPC, organic, email, etc.). However, these also had the last touch attribution problem. Only the final source of the code got the credit for turning that lead into a customer.

Early call tracking software allowed marketers to set tracking phone numbers for their marketing campaigns and count how many calls each campaign brought in. Each type of campaign–online and offline–got it’s own tracking number. Newspaper ads had a different number than billboards or radio ads. And PPC ads had different numbers than those from the company’s website. The number the customer called showed which source drove the conversion.

All these sources face the last-touch attribution problem. These days customers are likely going to encounter a business’s sales and marketing efforts multiple times before they actually pick up the phone. A customer might see a Facebook ad, search the business on Google, click a PPC ad, and then see a retargeting ad later in their online experience. How can marketers attribute the weight that all these encounters deserve?

The solution is multi-channel lead attribution. Modern call tracking software uses cookies and dynamic number insertion to track online activity and campaign level call tracking to assign each offline marketing piece its own tracking number. Location based businesses can also set up a main line tracking number to ensure that calls to their main line are tracked. This all-encompassing tracking allows businesses to work toward a better overall picture of their marketing efforts and what’s driving leads. The whole journey would be tracked of the example customer who started with a Facebook ad and ended with retargeting. The marketers would know that more than just one element was part of the reason that user finally converted and made the call–a far cry from the “How did you hear about us?” days.

Who should use call tracking?

Call tracking works for practically any industry, including automotive, marketing agencies, home service professionals, and even those industries that require HIPAA compliance. Large enterprise businesses trying to track sales and marketing data and small businesses looking to improve their local SEO both can benefit from call tracking software. Essentially any business that is running multiple campaigns and looking to see where their traffic and leads originated. Small companies with no website who get their business solely by word of mouth are probably the only category of business that does not need a call tracking platform to learn where their business came from–they can benefit the most from the “How did you hear about us?” method.

Check out our call tracking and analytics guide to get started.

Does call tracking affect local SEO?

In short, no. Call tracking numbers do not affect local SEO and NAP consistency. It’s a common misconception that call tracking can undo all your local SEO wins. If done incorrectly, it can interfere with your NAP consistency. However, CallRail’s Advanced Guide to Local SEO, DNI, & NAP Consistency shows that, when set up and modeled correctly, local SEO will not be affected by call tracking numbers.

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