Phone Call Tracking and ROI calculations – Champion’s Guide

 

I love phone call tracking simply because it gives me a break from the regular tracking I do through Google Analytics and other similar tools. If you have been in the field of digital marketing as long as me (almost a decade), you tend to get bit bored looking at the same metrics over and over again.

This is not really the case with phone call tracking as it comes with a whole new set of its own metrics and a cool reporting interface where you get the chance to optimize an entirely different marketing channel called ‘Phone’.

Since this post is a champion’s guide, my aim is to share all the knowledge and expertise I have gathered over the years on ‘call tracking’ in this post and make you a Phone Call Tracking champion in the next few minutes : )

I have developed my own simple step by step process for phone call tracking and ROI calculations which I am going to share with you next.

My process involves following 7 steps:

Step-1: Sell Phone Call Tracking to your client/boss

Step-2: Set up phone call tracking

Step-3: Set up Phone calls as goal conversions in google analytics

Step-4: Train Call Centre Staff to make notes and score each phone call

Step-5: Enter your ad spend for each marketing channel and calculate ROI

Step-6: Determine the performance of your Call Centre Staff

Step-7: Create custom reports for detailed Phone Call Analysis in Google Analytics

Also at the bottom of this article, there is a little surprise for you.

 

Sell Phone Call Tracking to your client/boss

Many companies are still not familiar with the concept of Phone Call Tracking and they won’t use it until you as a marketer/analyst can convince them that it’s worth the investment.

In order to sell phone call tracking you need to do two things:

  1. Explain the benefits of phone call tracking
  2. Explain how phone call tracking works

 

Benefits of Phone Call Tracking

1. Attribute Phone Calls to the Correct Traffic source

If your website has been set up mainly to generate leads through Phone calls (quite common in case of websites which sell high priced items like properties, cars, yacht, consultation services etc.) then you have to attribute phone calls to the correct traffic source so that you can prove the value you have added to the business bottomline through various marketing channels (SEO, PPC, Email, Social Media etc) in monetary terms.

Through call tracking software you can determine how many phone calls came from SEO, how many came from PPC, print ads, radio ads, billboard ads, TV ad campaigns etc.

You can determine not only the volume of phone calls from each traffic source but also their quality (in terms of generating sales).

Understanding exactly which marketing channels and keywords are driving phone calls is invaluable.

Attributing phone calls to the correct marketing channels means you can increase budget of the marketing channels which drive phone calls and reduce budget of those that don’t.

For example if you are running TV ad campaigns, you can determine both the volume and quality of calls through TV ads and can also calculate the ROI via your phone call tracking software.

If ROI of TV ads comes out to be negative, you can then either choose to make changes to your TV ads or shut down the whole campaign.

From my experience, TV ads generate low quality leads with high cost per acquisition. But I suggest you to do your own test and draw your own conclusions.

Similarly, attributing phone calls to the correct keywords means you can bid more aggressively on the keywords that work and reduce bids on the keywords that don’t.

2. Import Phone call data into Google Analytics

Any call tracking software worth its salt will let you import phone call data into Google Analytics. If it doesn’t then it is not worth getting.

You can attribute phone calls to the correct traffic sources both through a phone call tracking software and through Google Analytics. But

Google Analytics cannot track phone calls on its own.

You first need to import the phone call data from a call tracking software into Google Analytics before you can do anything with this data in GA. Therefore getting a call tracking software is a must. Moreover,

A call tracking software provides much more details about the phone calls than Google Analytics ever will.

 Note: Click here to see few sample phone call tracking reports.

3. Correlate Phone Call data with website usage data

Once you have imported the phone call data into Google Analytics, you can then correlate the call data with other metrics like traffic sources, keywords, visits, page views etc. In this way you can use phone call data to optimize your online marketing campaign.

4. Fix online and offline attribution issues

If a phone call is an important part of your lead generation process then call tracking is one of the best way to fix your online and offline attribution issues.

5. Track the performance of Call Centre Staff

It is always a struggle to determine how your call centre staff is performing. But through phone call tracking, you can even go one step further and determine the performance of each CSR (Customer Service Representative) in terms of calls answered, calls closed and revenue generated.

6. Calculate Phone Call Conversion Rate

It is calculated as ‘number of phone calls which resulted in a sale’ / ‘total number of phone calls’

For example, if out of 1000 calls, 100 phone calls resulted in a sale then phone call conversion rate would be 100/1000 = 0.1%

Phone call conversion rate is calculated each for inbound and outbound calls.

Inbound Phone Call Conversion rate = ‘number of inbound calls which resulted in a sale’ / ‘total number of unique inbound calls’

I have used unique calls here because same caller can call multiple times before he/she converts and thus can skew the conversion rate.

Outbound Phone Call Conversion rate = ‘number of outbound calls which resulted in a sale’ / ‘total number of outbound calls’

I have not used unique calls here because every call made by a CSR is a cost to the company and our aim is to generate sales through least number of outbound calls.

One of the biggest benefit of phone call tracking is that you can go down one step further in your conversion funnel and determine exactly how many phone calls actually turned into sales.

This will help you in determining the conversion rate of not only your marketing campaigns but also your call centre staff.

 7. Evaluate the quality of Phone Call Leads

Through call tracking software you would be able to separate low quality phone calls (call which didn’t result in sales) from high quality phone calls and you can also evaluate the performance of your call centre staff who is handling these calls.

From my experience, shorter the duration of a phone call, lower is the probability of getting a sale.

Higher the duration of a phone call, higher is the probability that the caller will eventually end up making a purchase from you.

A caller will continue the conversation only if he/she is really interested in your product/service and/or comfortable talking to your call centre staff. Short duration phone calls are often wrong numbers or hang up.

You can also evaluate low quality phone calls by listening to the conversation between callers and your CSR and determine why the calls didn’t result in sales and what can be done to improve the customers’ phone call experience. In this way you can convert more Phone call leads into sales.

If you focus on getting high quality phone call leads and converting more of these leads into sales, you can dramatically improve your Phone Call ROI.

Needless to say,

You can save tens of thousands of pounds by setting up phone call tracking system in your company.

 

How Phone Call Tracking Works

First of all, I use and recommend Call Tracking Metrics.

I have used many call tracking services in the past and this is the best one so far. It is easy to use, it provides local/toll free numbers in 30 countries around the world and it integrates well with Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Optimizely and CRMs like Highrise, Hubspot, Salesforce etc.

Going forward whenever I talk about a software specific feature, it is going to be about CTM (call tracking metrics).

Here is how phone call tracking works in case of CTM (all call tracking softwares work pretty much the same):

phone call tracking works

1. As soon as visitor lands on your website, the call tracking script (placed on your website) records the tracking source, landing page and the keywords used (if any).

This tracking source can be: direct, Google organic, Google paid, Yahoo organic, Yahoo paid, Bing organic, Bing paid, referral, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, TV, Radio, Print etc.

2. The call tracking script looks for a traffic source specific tracking number you bought in your call tracking account and if the script is able to find that number then it replaces the target number (the number that is hard coded on your website) with the tracking number.

For example if a visitor lands on your website via Google organic then he is going to see a Google Organic tracking number instead of the phone number hard coded on your website.

If a visitor lands on your website via Google Paid search (Google Adwords) then he is going to see a Google Paid tracking number instead of the phone number hard coded on your website.

Similarly, if a visitor lands on your website via a Referral then he is going to see a Referral tracking number, Direct tracking number (in case of direct visit), Facebook tracking number (in case of visit through Facebook) and so on and so forth.

3. The visitors calls the tracking number instead of your phone number and the call tracking script starts recording more details about the caller like the actual phone call conversation, phone duration etc.

4. Once visitor completes the call, the CSR (customer service representative), scores the call (more about it later) using call tracking software.

5. The call tracking script sends all the phone call data to call tracking software.

6. The call tracking software sends phone call data (only some of the data and not all) to Google Analytics, Kissmetrics etc.

 

Setting up phone call tracking

Step-1: Add phone numbers to your website. While this is a no brainer but now you need to be more strategic about how you display phone numbers on your website. Needless to say, you must prominently display phone numbers and remove others CTAs (call to action) around the numbers to increase the probability of getting phone calls.

Step-2: Purchase tracking numbers – You need to buy at least one tracking number per tracking source in order to track phone calls from a particular source.  If you don’t then you will not be able to track phone calls from a particular traffic source.

For example, if you don’t buy tracking number for direct traffic then you won’t be able to track phone calls coming from direct traffic.

Similarly, if you don’t buy tracking number for Google organic then you won’t be able to track phone calls coming from Google organic search.

In real life you need to buy lot more tracking numbers than just 1 for each traffic source.

CTM uses a metric called likelihood score (also known as accuracy score) which refers to how confident CTM is that a particular website visitor made a particular phone call. The score can range from 1 to 100%, with 100% being the most confident. 

In order to keep your likelihood scores as close to 100% as possible, CTM recommends buying 1 tracking number for every 40 daily visitors to your website from a particular traffic source.

So in real life if you wish to keep your likelihood scores as close to 100% as possible (which you should) for a particular traffic source then you need to buy tracking numbers equal to your daily visitors from the traffic source / 40 .

For example, if you want to keep your likelihood scores as close to 100% as possible for say ‘Google organic search’ and you are getting say 30000 monthly visitors through organic search, then the number of tracking numbers you need to buy would be:

(30000/30) / 40 = 25

So you need to buy 25 tracking numbers just for Google organic search. Needless to say, you need to buy even more tracking numbers as your Google organic search traffic grows. For high traffic websites, phone call tracking can get expensive very fast.

If you won’t follow the daily visitors/40 tracking numbers rule, your likelihood score will fall over time and you will see data discrepancies between your call tracking and GA reports.

Pricing: In case of CTM it cost around $2 to buy local phone numbers and around $4 for toll free numbers + you also need to pay around 5 cents per minute of call duration. The actual rates depend upon the pricing plan you select and the country you operate in.

I would recommend to buy tracking number for each of the following tracking sources:

 i.      Direct Traffic
ii.      Google organic
iii.     Google paid
iv.     Bing Paid 
v.      Referral 
vi.     Email

When you set up a new tracking number in your call tracking software, you need to specify the ‘receiving number’ and the ‘tracking source’:

setup and purchase

The receiving number is the phone number to which calls will be forwarded from tracking number.

In case of TV, Print, Outdoor and Radio ads, a person is assumed to make a call using the number displayed on the advertising channel.

For example, if a person saw your phone number (a unique tracking number for TV) on a TV ad, then he is assumed to make a call using that number.

As soon as he makes a call, the call tracking software sets the tracking source to ‘TV ad’ and starts recording more details about the caller and his conversation.

Needless to say, you would need to buy at least one unique tracking number each for TV, Print, Outdoor and Radio campaigns.

More tracking numbers you buy, more you can segment the data.

For example if you buy one unique tracking number for each display ad, you can then track the performance of each display ad individually.

Step-3: Copy paste the ‘call tracking script’ (provided by your call tracking vendor) on each and every webpage of your website. The script is generally placed in the head section (<head>…. </head>). You only need to add this code once to your website.

Step-4: Add call centre staff as users to your call tracking software. This is a very important step in phone call tracking as it allows you to calculate the ROI of your phone call tracking efforts. Every call centre agent must use call tracking software all the time to tag calls (more about this later).

Step-5: Link your call tracking account to your Google Analytics account, so that you can import call data into Google Analytics.

 

Setting up Phone calls as goal conversions in Google Analytics

Some call tracking softwares send call data to GA via events while others send data via virtual pageviews.

So if your call tracking software is sending call data via events (and it should be doing that), you can then see the phone call data in the ‘Top Events’ report (under Behavior > Events in your GA account).

Look for the event category called ‘Calls’ to see the phone call data in GA:

calls event category

The call data is structured and reported in GA the same way as event data in GA:

call data structure

For example:

call tracking event data-2

Note: Event category, event action and even label are available as dimensions in GA reports whereas event value is available as a metric.

For the sake of simplicity I have put all the values of event category, event action, event label and event value together side by side in the screenshot above.

You can see that there is one more event category called ‘CallSale’ which stores Phone Call data. The CTM software use this special event category to import the number of phone calls which resulted in sales to GA. More about this category later.

Now you know how the call data is structured in GA reports. You can use this information to set Phone calls as event goals in GA.

For example, you can use following configuration to track total number of phone calls in GA:

Total Phone Calls Goal

Note: When you leave the action field, label field and value field blank, the event goals tracks all the calls. Make sure that you do not use event value as goal value. In the screenshot above, a phone call is worth $500 for a business. That is why I have added $500 as goal value.

You can determine what a phone call is worth to you by doing this simple calculation:

total revenue generated through phone calls in a month/ total number of phone calls in a month. 

This will give you average value of a phone call which you can use as a goal value.

Similarly, you can use following configuration to track Phone calls from Google organic search which are unique (i.e. not repeated calls from a same caller) and which are more than 60 seconds in time duration:

Google organic calls Goal

Note: The value of label field is ‘first-call’ which tells GA to track only when the first time a caller calls and do not track repeated calls from the same caller.

Once you have set up Phone calls as goals in GA, they will soon be available in all GA reports which have got the goals tab:

phone call goals

 

Training Call Centre Staff to make notes and score each phone call

This is the most important step of setting up phone call tracking. Yet not many talk about it.

Your call tracking reports will be of little value if your call centre staff is not scoring each and every phone call.

Scoring a phone call means giving it a star rating and assigning it a sales amount if it results in sales.

CTM uses a 5 star rating system which is used on the basis of how good or bad the phone call lead was.

For example:

1. If the phone call turned out to be a wrong number, then a CSR can give the call a 1 star rating. However if you get phone calls every breathing minute, you can choose not to score wrong numbers as scoring a call is time consuming.

2. If the caller seems very interested in making a purchase then the CSR can give the call a 4 star rating.

3. If the caller make a purchase then the CSR can give the call a 5 star rating and at the same time assign a monetary value to it. This monetary value is equal to the price for which a product/service was sold over the phone.

Follow the steps below to score a phone call in CTM:

Step-1: Go to ‘Call Log’ report under the ‘Calls’ menu:

call log report -1

call log report -2

Step-2: Click on the ‘notes’ button: notes button

This button is used to make notes about each phone call. Once you click on this button, you will see a dialog box like the one below:

caller profile

You need to train your call centre staff to make notes about each phone call (whether inbound or outbound) either during a call or after the call.

Most CSR prefer to make notes during the call as making notes after a phone call can leave other callers in waiting.

The ‘notes’ text field is used to make notes by the CSR whereas the ‘tags’ text field is used to tag each phone call.

You can enter any tag you wish. You can add tags like ‘follow up’, ‘good lead’, ‘big party’, ‘new caller’, ‘repeat callers’, ‘hang up’, ‘inquiry’ etc.

The ‘tag’ field will prepopulate based on tags you have previously used. These tags can later help you in filtering call tracking data from reports.

Now click on the ‘Sale’ tab. You will see a dialog box like the one below:

sale detail

This dialog box is used to score each phone call. It is very important that you score each call by giving it a star rating. This will help you later in ROI reporting.

The ‘reporting tag’ is another way to classify your calls (you can use product/service name, product code, etc).

If the phone call resulted in a sale, then you must switch on the ‘converted’ button and enter converted amount and the conversion date.

For example, in the screenshot above, I rate the call 5 star because it resulted in a sale. Since the phone call resulted in a sale of £2500, so I entered 2500 in the ‘converted amount’ text box and specified the conversion date in the ‘date’ text box.

The converted amount specified here automatically get imported to Google Analytics reports via special event category called ‘CallSale’ as mentioned earlier. In this way you can determine the sales associated with a phone call.

 

Enter your ad spend for each marketing channel and calculate ROI

In order to calculate ROI of your phone call efforts, you need two metrics: Sales and Cost.

You can get the sales figure by scoring each phone call as described earlier. The cost data is something which you need to enter manually to your call tracking software every month for each marketing channel.

In case of CTM, click on the ‘ROI Dashboard’ under ‘reporting’ menu. You will then see a form where you can enter your monthly ad spend for each marketing channel:

setting monthly budget

Note: you can/should exclude certain traffic sources from ROI reports (by clicking on the checkbox ‘exclude source from ROI Reports’ under the ‘ROI settings’ report), like direct traffic and referral traffic.

Direct traffic is not a marketing channel but a behaviour which occurs as a result of investment in other marketing channels.

Similarly referral traffic is a by-product of investment in other marketing channels like SEO, PPC, email etc.

Once you have supplied the cost data, your ‘ROI Dashboard’ will be automatically updated and you can see the ROI for each marketing channel:

ROI DashboardHere,

Cost/Call = monthly advertising spend on the call source / total calls from the same source. For example in case of Google Paid, cost/call = $450/541 = $0.83

Cost/Caller = monthly advertising spend on the call source / total unique callers from the same source. For example in case of Google Paid, cost/caller = $450/403 = $1.11

Calls Closed => Total number of call from a source which resulted in sales. For example in case of Google Paid, calls closed = 4 i.e. 4 calls resulted in sales from Google paid search in a month.

% of Calls closed => it is the percentage of phone calls which resulted in a sale. It is equal to ‘Calls Closed’/total calls.

Callers closed => it is the number of unique callers which made a purchase over the phone.

% of callers closed => it is the percentage of unique callers which made a purchase over the phone. It is equal to ‘callers closed’/total unique callers.

Total revenue => it is the total revenue generated from a particular call source.

ROI => It is calculated as (total revenue from a call source – monthly advertising spend on the call source)/ monthly advertising spend on the call source.

For example in case of Google Paid search the ROI is calculated as: ($1050 – $450) / $450 = 133.33 %

 

Determining the performance of your Call Centre Staff

The cool thing about using a call tracking software is that, you no longer need to guess the performance of your call centre staff and make faith based decisions when it comes to performance appraisal.

Not only can you listen to the actual conversation between your CSR and a caller to determine how the CSR is handling calls but you can also go one step ahead and calculate revenue generated by each CSR.

To determine the CSR performance in CTM, go to ‘reporting tags metrics’ report under ‘roi reports’:

revenue per csr

 

Creating custom reports for detailed Phone Call Analysis in Google Analytics

Custom reports provide much more flexibility in terms of retrieving and reporting Phone call data. I can’t tell you in advance what custom reports you should create as your situation and requirements are going to be different.

But here is one custom report I find it useful. You can create a custom report with following specifications:

Metrics: Total Phone Calls (Goal Completion), Unique Phone Calls (Goal Completion), Total Phone Calls (Goal conversion rate), Call Sale (Goal Completion), Call Sale (Goal Conversion rate), Sessions

Dimensions Drilldowns: Default Channel Grouping > Source/Medium > Landing Page > Keyword

One big advantage of using custom reports is that you can easily retrieve Phone Call goals volume (in addition to phone call conversion rate) for each traffic source, which is not available in standard reports.

 

Powerful methods to improve Phone Call Conversion Rate

If you look at the phone call conversion rate of your website, you will quickly find out that majority of your site visitors do not choose to make a phone call. Though the phone call conversion rate varies from industry to industry, I have yet to see a phone call conversion rate more than 10%.

I have found average phone call conversion rate to be below 2%.

That means 98% of the website visitors choose not to make phone calls. So what can be done so that more people choose to make a phone call?

Here is how you can increase your phone call conversion rate:

1. Score each phone call – when you score each phone call, you can quickly determine which marketing channels are producing high quality phone call leads (which result in sales) and which don’t. You can then choose to stop spending money on the channels which are constantly producing low quality phone leads.

2. Score each phone call – sometimes traffic is not the problem but your call centre staff is. You need to know how good your call centre staff is in converting phone leads into sales. If you are scoring each phone call, you can easily measure the performance of each CSR as explained earlier in this post.

3. Score each phone call - If you are scoring each phone call, you can easily calculate the ROI for each marketing channel. You can then choose to stop spending money on channels which are constantly producing negative ROI and spend more money on the channels which are constantly producing high ROI.

4. Collect callers’ names and phone numbers – If your business heavily relies on phone call leads then you should aim to collect as many caller names and phone numbers as possible through your website and marketing campaigns. For your business, collecting phone numbers is more important than collecting email addresses. In this way you can dramatically increase your phone call leads.

5. Make outbound phone calls – Many businesses rely heavily on inbound calls and make little to no efforts in collecting phone numbers and making outgoing calls. Don’t just wait for the people to call you. Be proactive and make calls.

6. Follow up within few minutes – You must follow up as soon as you get a phone lead. “Phone call leads get cold very fast” (Why Companies Waste 71% Of Internet Leads). The more you will delay, higher is the probability that the lead will not turn into a sale.

7. Provide outstanding Phone Call Experience – you need to streamline the phone call experience you provide to the point that your callers are simply blown away by your service and recommend you to everyone. That means being super helpful and friendly and going out of the way to resolve callers’ queries in a timely manner. Companies who don’t do that end up wasting lot of phone leads.

8. Set up ‘click to call’ forms – Ordinary web based form don’t work as well as ‘click to call’ forms in converting phone leads into sales. As soon as a person submits a ‘click to call’ form, your CSR receives a phone call asking him if he wants to take the call. Once he takes the call, the phone call is tracked alongside your other call reports. The biggest advantage of using ‘click to call’ forms is that you can quickly follow up which is a very important factor in converting a phone lead into sales.

9. Follow best practices of ‘Landing Page Optimization’ – If your main objective is getting a phone call, then this should be reflected from your landing page design. Place phone numbers prominently on your page with little to zero other CTAs (call to action).

10. Conduct A/B test – Place phone numbers in different locations on your landing page and A/B test them.

11. Listen to phone conversation between callers and your call centre staff – This could be a daunting task if you are getting hundreds of calls each day. But sometimes this is the only way to improve phone call conversion rate when everything else has failed. Every phone call is a like a live customer feedback given to you.

If you listen carefully and make notes along the way, you can hear customer objections. Once you have a list of common customer objections, then look for ways to remove such objections. This will improve your phone conversion rate.

 

Another article you will find useful: Universal Analytics Upgrade Guide 

 

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  • Land Rover Auto Parts

    For in house seo it’s good otherwise a client never give full credit to seo.

  • Mike Gracen

    Dude, slow down. You’re making the rest of us look bad :-) Seriously, I need to reread this at least 2x more.. Outstanding stuff!

    • seotakeaways

      Thanks Mike :)

  • nimbata.

    One of the best articles about gaining ROI insights with call tracking. Great job Himanshu !