Call-tracking software

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Call tracking software records information about incoming telephone calls, but not the conversation. Call tracking is a technology which enables the pay per call business model, allowing the tracking of phone calls to be associated with performance based advertising, and supplying additional analytic information about the phone calls.[1] Call tracking is a method of performance review for advertising. It is based on the technological possibility of measuring the behavior of callers and is thus the equivalent in telephony to the conversion tracking used on the internet. Via different channels, both procedures offer the opportunity of clearly assigning a customer response to a specific advertising medium.

Call tracking may record:

  • What number has called
  • The geographical location of a caller, if available
  • The time distribution of incoming calls
  • Recording of the phone call

This information can be used to generate reports such as, amongst others:

  • Caller names and addresses (if a database relating numbers to names and addresses is available)
  • Missed calls
  • Call summaries (e.g., hourly, daily)
  • Details of repeat and unique callers
  • Analysis of frequency of calls by city and area code, if available

An application of call tracking is to monitor the effectiveness of advertising campaigns by comparing tracking reports before and after.

Call tracking is available on all types of incoming PSTN and VoIP telephone lines.

Methods[edit]

There are currently two technological methods for telephone tracking. Besides an exclusively web-based function, it is possible to evaluate call numbers using a telephone server solution. In addition, there are a few software providers who support advertisers in telephone tracking.

Call-back function[edit]

The call-back function is exclusively web-based. Here, the internet user provides a phone number on the website of a company that is advertising at which he/she can be called back. As soon as the user confirms she wants to be contacted with a click of the mouse, the technology behind this automatically sets up a telephone conversation between the advertiser and the interested party.

At the same time, a cookie saves information on which online advertising medium led to the telephone call. As a web-based service, this procedure is limited to advertising measures on the internet.

Call number tracking[edit]

Unlike the call-back procedure, call number tracking does not include any web-based functions but is based on a telephone server solution. As a rule, advertisers are provided a multitude of service numbers for customer feedback, where land line numbers can also be used. This enables each print ad, each online banner and any number of other advertising media to communicate an individual phone number as a response element.[2] When an interested party phones one of the service numbers provided, the call is transferred through the telephone server to the company and it is measured via the call number, which advertising medium brought about the target customer contact. Correspondingly, in search engine marketing, precisely the keyword that caused the advertisement and via which the customer visited the website is measured. Through the synchronized evaluation of the telephone conversation and assignment of the service numbers for the individual advertising measure, this method of telephone tracking overcomes the media discontinuities of classic advertising, online marketing.

Traditional call number tracking - while serving its purpose well - requires an advertiser to maintain a pool of phone numbers. This can be costly and also interrupt an advertiser's branding efforts, as website visitors who are prospective clients interact with forwarding phone numbers that do not represent the advertiser's genuine phone number. As a result, if the advertiser decides to remove the call tracking functionality from its website and the phone numbers are not retained, the same phone numbers may later be assigned to new advertisers.

Newer call tracking technologies strive to resolve this issue. One such solution is a patent-pending technology trademarked Dynamic Capture™. The technology assigns each phone call request a unique ID, which is later sent to analytics and leads management systems. The system uses the unique ID to sync visitor source information with the call record, providing a complete call analytics solution using a single phone number. Dynamic Capture™ was launched in late 2013 by a company known as Outleads.[3]

Software for telephone tracking[edit]

The media discontinuity described above between offline and online advertising measures can be resolved using special tracking software. There are providers of tracking systems that measure the user journey or conversion chain (i.e. the sequence of clicks until conversion takes place) across all advertising channels. Most systems are limited to the online sector and neglect the advertising contacts from the offline world and consequently important stages of the user journey. It is possible, for example, that a user initially clicks on an advertising banner or a Google AdWords ad and then reaches the website of the online shop. Then he makes a phone call and enters the URL of the shop on the internet before finally making a purchase. The offline channels such as telephony are not mapped in traditional web tracking.

There are already a few providers of tracking systems who take into account the telephone as a response element to marketing measures. A special telephone tracking tool provides support here. The operator of a website, e. g. an online shop, starts by integrating the JavaScript code into their website. When a user clicks on an ad, he is assigned a cookie. The user then sees a dynamic telephone number displayed on the website via the JavaScript code. If the user dials the number, the incoming call is assigned to the user and the advertising medium last clicked on by means of a server-to-server connection between the telephone tracking software and the telephone provider.

Google AdWords is currently testing AdWords call metrics for the US market. This new feature for the Google ad system offers the opportunity of providing a free-of-charge service number or a local number that is displayed in the AdWords advertisements.[4]

Areas of application[edit]

Particularly for high-priced, advising-intensive products such as cars or insurance, there are often queries via telephone. The calls happen relatively far along the click chain and, in some cases, they even speed up the purchasing process. Telephone tracking plays an important role in assigning these calls and the profit generated by them to an advertising channel. In addition, the significance of the call can be mapped in the purchasing chain and its position can be determined. If one takes conversion chains, to use an example, that contain a call, it becomes evident that usually this call occurs immediately preceding the profit. At the same time, it can be determined whether the shopping basket content tends to be greater when a customer has called in previously, or if the conversion chain is shorter in cases of caller participation, as the purchasing security of the customer is increased. These and other analyses are possible by means of telephone tracking and lead to a new assessment of the telephone as a channel and thus the marketing measures in this area.

In the area of Google AdWords’ search engine advertising, telephone tracking can assign calls to the keyword level. This information can be used for campaign management by, for example, increasing the cost per click bid for keywords with a high request rate. A bid management system can carry out these tasks automatically and with high statistical precision and optimize them according to individual cost-per-caller goals. In order to optimize cost-per-caller or ROI goals, the incorporation of a bid management system is necessary.

Benefits[edit]

With the help of telephone tracking, new insights into the performance of online marketing are opened up to marketing managers. Until now, telephone contact interrupted or ended the click chain so that essentially no correct cost-per-order could be calculated. This hurdle of media discontinuity has been overcome with telephone tracking. Furthermore, this tracking method resolves the problem of correct assignment of orders placed by telephone. Online traders benefit primarily from this new technology. They obtain a precise insight into the interplay of online channels and the telephone. If these sales were not taken into account, the CPO would be significantly higher and the relevant keywords might be classified as unprofitable.

Furthermore, agencies can make use of telephone tracking to demonstrate the success of their marketing measures to their customers in telephony. To date, agencies were not able to present the fact that a buyer had called and purchased due to an advertising banner.

Limitations[edit]

Despite many advantages, telephone tracking also has limitations. In order to assign each caller to a keyword, a correspondingly high number of phone numbers is needed, for example. With approximately 3 million page impressions a month and a number block of 500 phone numbers, measurements to the keyword level can be taken for about 45 minutes. With a higher number of impressions, telephone tracking is still possible but it becomes less precise as phone numbers can then only be allocated to ad group or campaign level. With corresponding distribution of the numbers, however, it can still be analyzed which ad or campaign the user clicked on last.

A further disadvantage for many customers results from the lacking memorability of the call numbers displayed. Many regular customers remember the phone number of the provider. The automatically generated call numbers can discourage these users. The problem can be avoided by assigning individual numbers only to those customers who came to the site via Google AdWords ads, for example.

Another hurdle for the deployment of telephone tracking are cookies. When a user deletes or disables these, the tracking is no longer effective. The call can no longer be assigned.

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