How often do you perform a mobile phone or Internet search for a business and immediately call that business? I’m betting fairly often. You are not alone – your customers do this all the time!
At Marchex, we specialize in digital advertising solutions for small businesses. Over the years, we have learned a lot about the needs of our small business customers and we’ve spent a significant amount of time monitoring and measuring how changing digital advertising trends and consumer adoption of new devices, like smartphones, impact the way small businesses sell products and services.
Whether it’s a coffee shop within walking distance or a car repair business several miles away – or anything in between – consumers use their mobile devices to search for relevant business information and easily place a call for more details.
Timeliness of information makes the mobile audience ripe with intent to buy, and small businesses need to learn how to best reach this audience and optimize their advertising spend to drive better return on investment.
Small business customers often search for business listings and then call for directions, hours of operation, product or service availability, reservations, pricing and more. Odds are you don’t know if your callers came in from a search engine, or other online referral source such as local listings or location-based mobile applications.
But, chances are high that you are measuring click through rates or form fill responses from these digital advertising placements. If so, that’s fantastic! But, you might be missing out on a big chunk of your ROI story: Offline conversions that are driven though online campaigns.
To further elaborate on this point, I’d like to share a real-world example from which we can all learn.
A home services business with several local locations needed to understand exactly how much traffic their search campaigns drove in the form of phone calls.
Despite custom SEO and search engine marketing strategies developed by a search consultancy, the home services business received a minimal amount of form fill outs from its website, and needed to determine if search marketing was still a viable and cost-effective lead generation tool.
Although the business was seeing a strong uptick in phone calls, the increase in calls could not be directly attributed to its online campaigns. Since phone calls are critical to this business’s success, there was a desire to know for sure how the calls were being generated.
Tracking offline conversions from search campaigns is more cumbersome than measuring clicks, but it also tells a bigger, more powerful story about the end-to-end impact of search campaigns and helps small businesses better manage their budgets.
Tracking Offline Conversions In A Cost-Effective Manner
After scouring the market for a way to easily, cost-effectively, and accurately attribute search engine marketing campaigns to offline phone calls, the home services business selected a call analytics solution. The technology allowed the business to assign unique call tracking numbers to each of its search marketing campaigns, landing pages, and local websites as well as leverage an easy to use call analytics system to measure results.
Contrary to what you might think, a call tracking and analytics program can be affordable for businesses of all sizes, and especially for local businesses, it can pay dividends in terms of the type of information provided.
It didn’t take long to determine that a majority of search-driven website visitors picked up the phone for more information instead of filling out the online form. The business was able to understand which search engines and keywords drove more calls and whether callers discovered the home services locations through paid or organic listings.
This level of detail proved to be especially helpful for this business, which, like many small and local businesses, relies heavily on cost-effective direct response advertising to drive leads. If you understand exactly where the traffic comes from, and how that traffic turns into calls, then optimizing for best results across your online marketing campaigns becomes much easier and more effective.
After monitoring campaign data for six months, a clear, consistent trend emerged: On average, 71% of the home services business’s search engine-generated conversions came in over the telephone versus only 29% from the online form. That’s a pretty big delta, and it’s proof that using a call tracking and analytics solution is well worth the effort.
In fact, call tracking and analytics brought a level of clarity to this business that led them to realize their search marketing return on investment was significantly higher than first thought. And, they determined they were under bidding on top-performing keywords.
By gradually increasing their bid prices until they reached a sweet spot in bid/conversion return on investment, the advertiser was able to achieve a 100% improvement in lead totals.
Bottom Line Impact
With call tracking and analytics this local business experienced exceptional results.
- It was discovered that a full 85% of search engine-generated conversions came in via phone, and only 15% came in via the online form – a key learning that allowed the advertiser to maximize exposure with its allotted online marketing budget.
- The number of search engine-generated leads more than doubled year-over-year.
- The number of traceable leads delivered increased a whopping 100% after the business began using call tracking and analytics software.
The Moral Of The Story
Clicks and website activity don’t tell the whole story when it comes to search engine marketing for small and local businesses. You don’t have to be a large corporation with a large budget to benefit from a call tracking and analytics solution.
In fact, if you’re not tracking the impact of your search engine marketing efforts past the click, you could be missing out on a significant source of leads and conversions.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.