Sunday, May 5, 2013

CPC - Adwords Phone Conversion Tracking

Analytics is becoming more and more important across all industries. In many cases the use of analytics is what makes you better than your competition. Most of my experience with digital analytics comes from working with eCommerce stores using the popular Google Analytics. Within Google Analytics you have a plethora of tools at your disposal. You can segment your traffic and see how each area is performing or you can create custom reports to see the effects of your SEO efforts. One of the awesome areas of Google Analytics is to see your CPC and CPM costs and revenue.

 I would like to focus a bit on how CPC and CPM models work. In general, a CPC is when a customer sees one of your ads/banners and clicks on it. When that happens you are charged a fee for that click. That fee in most cases was decided with your bidding and in the auction process of listing your ad. In a CPM model you pay for the view of the ad whether or not they click on it. This is called an impression. After the customer comes to your site you then are able to track them all the way till they leave of the transaction is complete. Seems fine right? Well consider this example. Customer “A” clicks your ad and you are charged $1. Customer A continues browsing the website and decides to make a purchase. He adds the product to cart and checks out. We now see in our analytics that we had 1 visit, 1 conversion, and spent $1 on advertising. Customer “B” sees the same ad and clicks on it. We are again charged another fee but this time is was only $0.75. Customer B continues to browse the site and finally decides on an item he wants to purchase. However before making the purchase he wanted to ask the company a few questions about the product. He calls their 1-800 number, gets his questions answered, then when asked by the store associate if he would like him to place his order for him over the phone he answers yes. Well now when we look at our analytics tracking we see 2 visits, 1 conversion, and $1.75 spent on advertising. Do you see the problem? Because customer “B” ended up placing his order over the phone we were not able to record the transaction in our analytics.

                The scenario above is a very common problem with most companies with online sales. Many don’t even know this is a problem.  We have spent days searching for the best solutions. Let me share a personal experience with this problem. At my work we were in dire need of a marketing manager to help manage our CPC and other marketing avenues. We decided on a recent grad to take over our marketing and he began revamping all our campaigns. He would look at some campaigns in Google Analytic and noticed many where we were spending over $300 a day and only had one or two conversion during the day. Seeing this he immediately stopped all campaigns that fit into this scenario. The next day we noticed that our sales were significantly lower. We figured it must have been just one of those days. The second day was the same. We then went into panic mode and revisited our Google Analytics and everything looked fine. The only area that significantly changes was our call traffic/revenue. After further digging we realized what this new marketer did and enabled the campaigns that he had disabled. Most of these campaigns were for $2000+ priced products and our customers preferred to call in first before placing their order.  Being able to accurately track your advertising costs and success is crucial to be successful in a competitive marketplace. In our industry anyone can open shop in their garage and begin selling products at a fraction of the cost. But because they have no expertise with CPC and accurately using analytics they quickly burn out of cash and go out of business.

                Many sources (Blue Corona) state that CPC and other paid forms of traffic generate 12 times the amount of phone leads compared to natural organic traffic. In our case we have found it to be around 7 times greater than organic leads. To help with phone tracking there are a few solutions to help mitigate the lack of data tracking in this area. Some are better than others.

1.                One partial solution is to have each customer service rep ask the customer how they found out about the company, then mark the source of the order in the company’s internal system. This is the cheapest way to get a basic idea of where the majority of your phone calls come from. However how many people know where or not they click on one of our CPC ads? In most cases they won’t know and just say they found you on Google. For some business this may be an ok solution especially when you can determine phone leads from different avenues. This would help know what people searched for you online compared to calling from a phone book. When creating your reports from Google Analytics or what every analytics solution you use you will have to look at your information you gathered from inbound phone calls. This may work for some industries.

2.                Depending on your companies resources you can purchased multiple phone numbers and assign a phone number to each campaign or if possible each advertisement. Through simple on page JavaScript you can easily change phone numbers across your website based on the advertisement clicked on. This makes it so when they decide to call in they will call in directly though the number associated to that campaign. The customer service agent then records the phone number from which the order originated. You would then combine this with your Google Analytics reports to get a good idea of how each campaign is working. Another approach to this is to direct the customer to an online receipt after they have placed their order. Since the receipt is online your PPC/CPC tracking script can report the conversion. However, you are relying on the customer to visit the receipt page. (How to Track Sales for your PPC Campaigns)

3.                Again, depending on your company’s resources you can outsource this to a tracking company. They will give you multiple numbers and handle the on page phone numbers to work with the origination of the customer. When the customer calls in, the agent is provided with and ID to enter after the order is placed with then ties back into the companies Google Analytics. This is the easiest solution and most expensive.

We decided to go with option 2 as we couldn’t justify the monthly costs of option 3. We found it very easy to implement and only apply it to our bread and butter campaigns. Don’t feel this has to be done for each campaign. In most cases you store makes 80%-90% of its revenue though a few campaigns. These are the ones you want to spend your time on. We have our agents at the end of each order select a box on the confirmation screen of which # they called from. We are then able to get helpful information we can then use to determine the success of each campaign and get an edge over our competitors, especially on CPC.

With technology moving more and more towards mobile devices it opens more opportunities with phone conversion tracking since they are likely to click on your phone number using their mobile device. Knowing the problem is half the battle. There is not a simple generic fit all solution for each industry. However, with a little creativity and planning you can get ahead of your competition and more effectively market online. 

  1. Blue Corona. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. How to Track Sales for your PPC Campaigns. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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