Call Analytics Bring Sophisticated New Data, Insights to Search Marketing

Many search marketers have experimented with call tracking and measurement as a way to capture online-to-offline consumer activity and determine which ads and campaigns are generating calls. But there has also been debate about whether unique phone numbers required by call tracking harms SEO especially for local advertisers. Some new developments in the field make a compelling argument for call tracking and analytics, at the very least among enterprises or large advertisers trying to generate calls to call centers.

Search marketing platform Kenshoo earlier this summer introduced what it calls Call Conversion Optimization. The program, according to Kenshoo, automatically adjusts bidding in response to ads that are driving calls rather than resulting in just clicks. Unique phone numbers are used, at a campaign or keyword level, to determine which ads are working from a calls standpoint.

Today Kenshoo further refined the program with partner Mongoose Metrics. Now unique phone numbers can be generated for each keyword — and individual user — so that no two people searching on the same keyword will see the same phone number on the resulting landing page. According to the press release:

The tight API integration of Mongoose Metrics’ call tracking and speech recognition technology combined with KENSHOO Local’s sophisticated bid optimization algorithms, known as Call Conversion OptimizationTM (CCO), allows advertisers to leverage Dynamic Number Replacement (DNR) to display a unique tracking telephone number to each user, creating a link between campaigns, keywords, and the converting call. Unlike other solutions, KENSHOO’s CCO tracks these conversions and suggests optimal bids for the keywords that generate phone conversions and suggests reduced bids or removal of keywords that generate clicks – and cost – but do not result in the desired conversions.

Kenshoo says Mongoose is going to add call recording for additional capabilities (e.g., keyword research) in the near future.

Yext, which describes itself as a “pay per action” platform (using calls) uses speech-to-text data mining to filter good phone leads from weak ones and says it only charges clients for good calls accordingly. This is an advancement over call-based advertising that relies solely on call duration for advertiser billing.

Marchex, which operates a pay per call exchange, has bet its business increasingly on phone-based advertising and call analytics. The company last week introduced “call mining,” which takes recorded calls and speech-to-text transcription and makes all sorts of interesting analytics options available on top of that via a dashboard.

According to the company’s promotional materials the following are the kinds of things that can be done or determined:

  • On-the-phone conversion rates and caller intent
  • Identify the channels, ads and keywords that drive the highest on-the-call conversion and return on investment
  • Map call outcomes to parameters such as geographic location and gender
  • Understand the effectiveness of call-based marketing campaigns
  • Audit call center efficiency and caller experience
  • Directly ascertain customer needs and pain points
  • Flag calls by topic of discussion

Beyond identifying which keywords generated more calls, these capabilities reveal the quality of the specific calls and enormous amounts of additional information that can be factored back into marketing campaigns (as well as operations more broadly). Marchex EVP Matthew Berk and I discussed scenarios where national advertisers might adjust campaigns (ad copy, keywords) on a regional basis according to data revealed by the content of successful phone conversions.

At a higher level these tools point the way toward the convergence of marketing and customer service, which have historically been distinct silos within organizations.

Call measurement firm Telmetrics told me yesterday that the company has seen “exponential growth” in demand from online marketers as they realize the analytics and data-mining benefits of tracking and monitoring calls.

I’d like to hear whether people believe the SEO concerns remain; however Telmetrics said it has figured out a way “through automated integration and data reconciling” to prevent tracking numbers from appearing as primary local business lines.

The larger point is that these optimization and call mining capabilities offer marketers new levels of insight into the effectiveness of campaigns that were just not possible with clicks and conventional web analytics in the past. I also believe — and I’m totally speculating here — that Google will add call analytics to AdWords (either on its own or through an acquisition) in the next six months. We’ll see.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Google: AdWords | Search Marketing: General | Search Marketing: Landing Pages | Search Marketing: Local Search Marketing | SEM Tools: Keyword Research | SEM Tools: Web Analytics | SEO: Local

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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