So often, the missing link of all tracking is when one of your prospects decides they no longer want to continue their happy buying process online.
Personally, if phones were outlawed and all we had left was text messaging, e-mail, and Twitter, I doubt I'd shed many tears. But I'm probably in the minority on that.
That's when it happens. All of your buttoned-up, rock-solid tracking you so carefully crafted for your super-sweet promotion gets flushed right down the drain with the touch of 10 little buttons.
Gone are the conversion reports that track to your online form's thank you page. Gone are the key-phrase conversion analysis numbers in your paid search accounts. It's all gone, daddy gone. The love is gone.
But hark! The herald angels do sing. All isn't lost.
Some industrious people have been doing some great work to help fix all your call tracking problems.
This certainly won't be the complete and final word on call tracking. There are already many options, and it seems that the options continue to grow.
I've investigated two options: ClickPath and TeleCapture. These services are nice to compare because ClickPath is for bigger, more robust campaigns, while TeleCapture is a nice solution for those looking to start small.
ClickPath is incredibly robust. You can track down to the keyword level with an unlimited amount of phone numbers.
You buy a block of minutes of phone time that you think you'll use in a month. Pricing is tiered on volume and terms. So, the more minutes for a longer agreed contract, the less you'll pay per minute.
While the per-minute price depends on how much you're going to use the system, and for how long you agree to use it, the monthly blocks of usage start at several hundred dollars.
They offer "dynamic number insertion," which will display the phone number for the campaign and phrase the visitor came from.
ClickPath reports allow you to track all sorts activity: live chat, contact forms, calls, sales, and many more.
After the customer hangs up, there's a prompt to enter a call representative code and then an outcome code. This way you can find out exactly what happened on a call directly from each representative in the ClickPath reports.
ClickPath is all-inclusive. You get caller ID, unlimited numbers, recorded calls, great reports. It goes on and on. It's a really nice, comprehensive system.
If you aren't quite the size of a Chilean sea bass yet and your business more resembles the size of a stout (but proud) small-mouth bass, I'd like to draw your attention to TeleCapture.
TeleCapture charges you by the total number of phone numbers you want, the services you want on each phone number, and then per-minute fees. You can start for $5.99 a month for one phone number, and pay $0.065 a minute for people who use that number.
They have a handy feature called "Call Announce" that plays a brief, pre-recorded message to the operator describing where the call came from. They have many announcement recordings, including Internet, television, Google, eBay, and door hanger. This way, the person who answers the call can jot down where the call came from.
TeleCapture has some nice reports that show calls by hour, day, and month. It also shows calls-per-caller and minutes-per-call. You can also e-mail call information to other people, and have your reports e-mailed to you on a pre-determined basis.
If you're looking to track down to the keyword level, ClickPath might be your solution. But if you're looking to just do some high-level tracking, you might look into TeleCapture.
Either way, tracking calls has been a Holy Grail of tracking promotions. The good news: that Holy Grail is available and possible for marketers of every size.
Sage Lewis is off this week. This column was originally published on February 12, 2009.