Evolution of call tracking in a mobile first world

*Sponsored content in collaboration with Marchex. Views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect Search Engine Watch’s opinions.

If you answer your phone or want your phone to ring as a result of your marketing, in particular search engine marketing, then you’ll want to read the following interview.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Adarsh Nair, Senior Director, Search Product and Engineering at Marchex. Adarsh filled me in on the latest advances in call tracking and marketing automation that have been baked into their Call Analytics platform and specifically Marchex Search Analytics.

Kevin Lee: Why is tracking and 100% attribution at the keyword level important?

Adarsh: We hear a lot about big data and the power of data. Search is a very sophisticated media channel with hundreds of millions of keywords to bid from leading to trillions of dollars in sales. This is a big data problem. If you break it down to the basics, each keyword is a market of customers searching for something specific. And marketers have a cost to get their ad to show up in front of customers.

It is our strong belief that for the best ROI optimization, search marketers need to have the most granular data (keyword level), complete data (online and offline sale attribution) and the tools to make sense of data.

Keyword level attribution for online and offline sales is just the beginning to building a great search optimization strategy.

Marchex click to call stats

Why do some marketers prefer to take orders over the phone?

For industry verticals such as auto, financial services and travel, the product being sold is sometimes complex and expensive. These verticals also see a fair share of companies competing for the same customer. Getting a consumer on the phone and/or in a store increases the opportunity to convert a prospect into a customer through excellent customer service. The human connection in many cases makes the difference.

Separately, it is also important to note that we are seeing marketers responding to customer choice.

Consumers are choosing to call businesses from the web using their mobile phones. This has pushed Google, Facebook and other publishers to respond with mobile advertising formats that incorporate a click to call.

I get it. For many products, particularly those with lots of options or service offerings with many service levels it’s better to have a rep talk to a potential customer because the conversion rate to sale is higher AND the average sale price is higher. Plus you get fewer returns or customer service issues when the buyer gets the right product or service.

For many marketers, being able to attribute call conversions to search media at the keyword level results in ROI being properly stated and the PPC bid reserve price going up. Can you explain why this is important?

Having the ability to raise one’s keyword bid while maintaining a high measured ROI can facilitate higher positions for the keyword, if the competition doesn’t escalate bids.

Anyone who wants site visitors to call should be tracking phone conversions, but which industry categories are having the greatest success with your platform?

We see two key customer journey paths when it comes to calls from search. First, customers are choosing to click to call from the search ad itself. Second, customers click through to the landing page or the site, and call a number on the site. The key industry verticals for Marchex, where calls make up more than 20% of the overall conversions, are Auto, Financial services, Travel, Home Services, Telco and Cable services.

Can you provide specific examples that might shock readers as to just how big a difference call tracking can make?

One of our customers in financial services faced a challenge. Mobile CPCs were going up, leading to higher cost per acquisition (CPA), and around 40% of their total conversion came through calls. The customer had full visibility into online conversions driven from keywords, but did not have visibility into call conversions.

The lack of a complete picture that showed total conversion from a keyword caused optimization challenges and cost per acquisition remained high. Marchex Search Analytics helped the customer develop a complete picture of total conversions (online and offline) from each keyword.

With call conversion added in, the customer saw the top performing keywords change. CPAs of specific keywords dropped by more than 50%. The customer used the data to revamp their search strategy and in a three month timeframe reduced overall CPA by ~10% and drove ~15% more conversions. And this is for a company with a massive paid search budget.

In addition to simply understanding phone conversions and improving one’s PPC media optimization what other insights can one extract from calls using your platform?

In addition to calls, duration, conversions, there are three categories of data/insights that Marchex Search Analytics provides:

1) Deep call insights through machine learning: CallDNA is a Marchex technology the platform uses to provide deep insights into what happened on the call. Search marketers find a variety of uses for this data.

As an example, one of our customers in the Auto industry looks for a specific phrase in calls as it’s an indicator for future sales. Getting a sense of keywords that drive calls with the specific phrase helps our customer invest in the right keywords to drive demand. Another example is where a customer in the Telco/Cable vertical uses our platform to understand which keyword drives conversation vs. hangups/misdials. This helps the customer invest in keywords that drive the right kind of calls into their call centers.

2) Consumer touch points along the call flow: The call consumer journey is very similar to the website consumer journey. Very similar to how the website’s ease of use and responsiveness determines the consumer experience, the success of the call consumer journey is determined by how intuitive the IVR is, how responsive the agent on the phone is.

Marchex Search Analytics is able to surface the IVR input form the consumer back to the search marketer at the keyword level. Many search marketers use this feature to determine how many new customers are being driven through the call flow by tapping the ‘new customer’ IVR input at the keyword level

3) Enhanced conversion data: We also support advanced conversion data. Many platforms discuss bringing conversion counts or using a proxy for conversion like ‘calls above a certain duration’. Marchex Search Analytics partners with our customers to bring in conversion data at the keyword level that includes total sales transactions, revenue drive from those transactions, product SKUs that drove the conversion.

Are there any important things marketers should know between click to call originated calls vs. in-ad phone numbers being dialed vs. landing pages with a phone call to action?

In an increasingly mobile world, customers in industry verticals where calls are important are seeing more than 60% of their calls come from in-ad phone numbers. Customers should do the due diligence to understand if the call tracking solution they use can seamlessly provide call conversion data at the keyword level for both in-ad phone numbers (also referred to as call extensions or call only campaigns) and landing page based phone numbers.

For keyword level tracking of call from in-ad phone numbers, we advise against hacks such as mapping adgroups to single keywords. Such strategies are expensive, do not scale for enterprise customers and could have negative impact on quality score. Marchex Search Analytics works with the existing search campaign structure of our enterprise customers and we are able provide a seamless experience by pushing the new keyword level click to call data to bid optimization platforms automatically.

Finally, we are also seeing that keywords that drive calls from in-ad phone numbers typically differ from the keywords that drive calls from landing pages. Having granular attribution for calls from in-ad phone numbers and landing pages will be critical for best in class optimization strategies.

Many marketers want to know the system they pick has been around a while to be robust and stable. How long has Marchex been in the call tracking sector? What are the other reasons that marketers know and trust your system?

Marchex has been in the call tracking space for close to 10 years. Marchex is the trusted partner for Fortune 1000 enterprise brands and we are the largest call analytics provider with more than 300 million calls flowing through our systems every year. Finally, Marchex invests in product innovation and our enterprise customers choose Marchex due to cutting edge innovations such as search, display, video and site analytics for call conversions.

What else should marketers know when they evaluate call tracking solutions?

Call conversions are driven from a variety of media channels, which includes search, display, mobile video, email. While direct attribution of calls from search is important, marketers are now beginning to realize that display and mobile video are influencing call conversions in a big way. Marketers should consider a call analytics platform that has the capability to track view-through call conversions from display and mobile video and can provide cross channel attribution for call conversions.

I’m pleased to have learned a lot about call tracking from Adarsh, and I hope you, the reader learned something too and of course you can learn more here: Marchex Search Analytics.

Marchex *Sponsored content in collaboration with Marchex. Views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect Search Engine Watch’s opinions.

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