Evaluating the effectiveness of marketing channels is a difficult game - even once you get a customer to your website and they call you, how do you know to credit that conversion to your hard work with SEO, or PPC, or other internet marketing tactics? As businesses are forced to add more and more channels to their marketing mix it is important to be constantly measuring their success, phasing out what isn't working, and building on those that perform. A lot of the questions we get at Energy Circle PRO relate to this type of measurement, and what we have quickly realized is that tracking calls from your site is as important as form submissions, if not more so. But in the shifting world of local search, where consistency in phone numbers is so critical, is call tracking a good idea?
It can be, but there are also a handful of reasons that you should proceed with caution if you decide to implement call tracking on your site. Read more about why call tracking is increasingly important and how you can ensure you implement it successfully and accurately without compromising the hard work you've put in to build your local search footprint and get visitors to your website now and going forward.
Why Use Call Tracking?
Call tracking can be a very effective way to measure the success of your marketing efforts. Here's how it works:
- You sign up with a service like CallRail or LogMyCalls
- You create phone numbers and assign them to various channels either specifically or dynamically (i.e. organic search, PPC, direct mail, etc.)
- When a visitor comes to your site via the assigned source, the software shows them the tracking number instead of your real number
- The software tracks the call back to that source instead of them getting lost in the nether
And call tracking software is not only useful from a channel evaluation standpoint - it also offers a slew of other features that can help your business. Call recording is a common included feature that can help you evaluate your sales tactics and review the performance or salespeople, or even go back and get info that wasn't recorded during a call like a lead's correct address or phone number. They also offer robust reporting options that allow you to see information about the collar and where they are calling from, which is useful for ensuring your leads are coming from where you want them.
What is the Problem Then?
Well, it's pretty simple. From an SEO standpoint, it's absolutely critical that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is consistent everywhere; on business listings, on your contact page, in your footer, in your header, social media profiles...you get the idea. The challenge is balancing this consistency requirement with the positive gains you make from implementing call tracking software. But if you do it smartly and correctly you'll be able to get all the benefit from a consistent NAP, stay in Google's "good graces," and still gain the insights that this powerful software provides.
When to Use & When Not to Use Call Tracking
The biggest red flag for call tracking misuse is if you are putting the tracking number on any of your local citations. These sources are a critical part of ranking well in local search and it is vital that the information contained on those listings matches up perfectly with what's on your website. This category includes business listings like Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, social media sites...anywhere your business NAP are listed. Do not use call tracking in these places, stick with your real business info.
Using call tracking on your website itself is a bit safer, but you need to make sure it is done correctly. If the search engines start seeing your call tracking number on your site and not your real phone number, it won't be able to give you credit for all those citations you've built around the local search ecosystem. Luckily, both of the options we've presented here for software use some simple yet clever code to ensure that only visitors who came from the correct source are presented with the tracking number. Just follow their instructions carefully and you will be all set.
One caveat is that you want to leave the tracking number on your contact page alone, as well as your in your site footer. These are the most common places that search engines look for this data and you don't want to confuse them at all in these spots.
Have you tried call tracking? Did it work for you or were you underwhelmed? Let us know in the comments.