Just because millennials don’t make phone calls doesn’t mean they’re going away.

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In fact, Invoca says there has been a 40% increase in phone calls across all industries since 2014. And why not? Phone calls are the quickest way to get a response, according to 75% of consumers.

So, marketers are taking note, and giving phone calls the attention they deserve.

But it’s not that simple.

Phones ring. Great. People are interested. They want to learn more. They maybe even want to buy.

But why? Where’d the call come from? Did they get your number from a mobile search? From an ad? Cool — but which one?

Here’s how you can discover where your most profitable leads are coming from with call tracking (so you can bring in more of those profitable leads).

Why Your Phone is the Most Powerful Sales Tool You Have (Besides Your Face)

Invoca’s Call Intelligence Index tracked over 30 million phone calls and found that a whopping 70% are driven by digital channels.

That’s important for two reasons:

  1. Your typical conversion rate online is maybe a percent or two. (If you’re lucky or good.)
  2. While phone calls produce conversion rates of 30-50% according to Invoca’s data.

So it’s not even close. Your odds of success just by picking up that telephone increase dramatically.

Cue party music:

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But that doesn’t mean everything’s sunshine and rainbows with phone calls.

Because most people have no idea where they’re coming from. The phone rings, you pick it up and chalk it up to divine intervention. Or worse, ‘branding.’

When in reality, it came from a search or social or referral. You just lost the digital paper trail that proves it. (Which means you personally don’t get the credit, either, from bosses and colleagues and clients.)

There is good news, though. You can set up call tracking once and for all with a little bit of work. The trick is knowing where all of the possible loopholes are. The ones that your data now slip right through.

For example, call extensions (the first tip below) will help you track phone calls that originate from your ads. But if people click through to your site and browse before dialing, all is lost.

So here’s how to plug those common gaps.

1. Call extensions

Adding a call extension to your ads is the easiest place to start.

Google will provide customized phone numbers that will help you track all inbound calls back to individual campaigns and keywords.

For example, let’s say you do a ‘brand search.’ You type in a company or consultant’s name and up pops their info on Google.

The Knowledge Graph, or the featured block on the right-hand side of a search engine result page (SERP) will commonly pull-in data about the company (if it’s big or notable enough). It might even pull in your direct phone number.

That’s what’s happening in the image below from Blue Corona, Inc. Their real phone number is popping up in the Knowledge Graph (the local 301 number). But if you look at the branded search at the top of the page, you’ll notice an 800 number.

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That’s a call extension at work, customizing the number to this ad so that you can track calls as conversions inside AdWords.
Just adding a simple call extension can increase click-through rates by up to 8%. Not bad for a few minutes worth of work.

2. Mobile specific ads

Not all PPC searches are ‘high-intent.’

Meaning that some people are simply just Googling for information around their problems. They’re not necessarily ready or willing to talk shop just yet. And the key to generating (or sabotage) PPC conversions is through matching your offer to each person’s individual temperature.

So it’s often a delicate balancing act.

Except… when it comes to mobile searches.

Mobile search drives 50% of all calls according to Invoca’s data. And those inbound phone calls are 10-15x more likely to convert than web leads according to Jason Wells.

Those are two very good signs.

So you can capitalize on this by running mobile-specific, phone number-only ads. (Where only a phone number shows up, and no website link CTA.)

This can get tricky obviously, so test in small increments to see what impact it has on results.

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And keep in mind that sometimes on mobile devices, Google will remove additional lines of copy in order to squeeze in ad extensions. So push your critical info to the front of the ad text.

3. Keyword analysis

Call extensions are like your front-line of defense. They’ll help capture a lot of people who were already looking (or thinking) about calling in to get a quick response.

But there’s still a giant, gaping hole to address.

For everyone else who needs a little bit of extra info before calling in, they’ll unsurprisingly want to visit your website instead. They’ll ignore the call extension and click on your landing page link. They’ll read the page and maybe hit Home or About Us before ever thinking of dialing.

And so now that call extension is next-to-useless.

Even if someone picks up the phone and calls the number on the very first landing page they see, you’re still outta luck.

Unless… you beef up your call analytics with a tool like Invoca or CallRail. These help you display custom phone numbers on each page of your site (or a single custom number per visitor). So when someone does pick up the phone, you can see their entire sessions, where they’re calling from, and what source originally drove them to your site.

Here’s why that’s important.

Not every phone call you get will result in a paying customer. Only a fraction of them will.

Even call extensions can often fall guilty of this. They give you basic data, calling new inbound calls conversions. Even though technically speaking, they’re not.

That means you need to eventually be able to track back John Smith, who just paid you $10,000, initially came through the keyphrase “life insurance quotes.”

That way you’re changing bids or testing ads not just on vanity metrics (like CTR or cost per conversion) but real business-generating ones instead (like revenue).

4. Retargeting ads with phone numbers

Not everyone who visits your site for the first time is going to convert. In fact, as we’ve already seen, the vast majority won’t.

But that’s OK. If you already have a plan in place to bring those people back.

Most retargeting display ads are designed to simply bring someone back to the site. In other words, the intended action or CTA is almost always a link click.

That’s not good enough, though, when you consider that whole 1-2% vs. 30-50% thing. So adding a phone number to retargeting ads is another simple way to incentivize a higher-converting dial, instead.

Get your free offer

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And once again, you use customized, dedicated numbers for each retargeting campaign. So you can track back the success of that unique 800-number to the ad creative that generated each conversion you ‘saved’ or brought back from the dead.

5. Schedule call-based ads around availability

Inovca showed that 75% of consumers believe phone calls are best for a quick response.

However, that only applies if there’s someone around to answer the phones.

Meaning: There’s no point in running these dedicated ‘call only’ campaigns after-hours or on the weekend. So you need to go in and shut down those off hours to save on wasted spend.

No point in paying for more unanswered voicemails.

Schedule your ads in the Advanced Settings under each individual campaign.

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This ‘dayparting’ approach can and should apply to Facebook campaigns as well.

6. Incentivize the call on your pages

Nothing kills a sale faster than… waiting.

Even a Harvard Business Review study confirmed that companies often move too slow for online leads.

Companies often move too slow for online leads.

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There’s no better example of this than your contact form. Someone fills in their information. That means they’re interested, right now. You finally have their undivided attention.

And yet you’re going to make them wait. And wait. And wait.

A day later an email follow up goes out. But no response. They’ve already moved on.

All of their purchasing momentum is lost. When a simple two-minute phone call could have solved everything.

The trick is to do one of two things:

  1. Force them to call (by forcing users to this option), or
  2. Make calling irresistible with some incentive.

Here’s a not-so-subtle example for people who want quick answers (e.g. “Speak now…”) and don’t want to wait:

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7. Click to call (above the fold)

When they are ready to buy, 61% of mobile users say the click-to-call option is the most important factor in getting them to that final purchase step.

Why, then, is your phone number displayed on the site as an image? Buried deep in the footer? And so tiny that it’s barely legible?

Click-to-call commerce isn’t just some passing fad, according to John Busby’s SMX presentation. It’s expected to double by 2019.

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So yes, the first step is actually adding the code:

<a href=″tel:+1-800-888-8888″>Call 1-800-888-8888</a>

But more importantly is where you’re putting that sucker.

The good news is that you don’t have to guess here. Start by following the Gutenberg diagram, that indicates how and where people’s eye patterns go when they hit your site:

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“The fourth, bottom right terminal area is where you should place your call to action.”, according to ConversionXL and UX Movement’s research.

And while people are scrolling more than ever before, the placing your most important CTA’s above the fold still holds weight.

One way to get the best of both worlds?

Scrolling elements on the page, like a widget area that scrolls with the user or sticky navigation, can keep that number front-and-center at all times while they’re browsing or reading.

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According to a study by Smashing Magazine, participants said that sticky headers were 22% easier to navigate.

“Easier to navigate” means easier to see that number. Which means easier to convert.

8. Prioritize the phone

CallRail’s “CallScore” will analyze call recordings to identify good (and bad) leads. This is done in real-time, so you’ll know within minutes how many of those new incoming rings are good or not.

It’ll also provide helpful internal data like the time it took for them to reach one for reps and how long the prospect was speaking (vs. your rep).

So yes, it’s like lead scoring for phone calls.

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Not only does that make your life easier, but you can also start gauging call quality across channels. This brings us back to the elephant in the room: conversions.

You’re after quality, ‘bottom of the funnel’ calls who want to discuss pricing and proposals and quotes.

If Organic Search brought in 10 calls last week, but AdWords only delivered 5… which one won.

Goes back to quality and the eventual conversions of those calls. You don’t want to track sales calls, people asking for directions, and all the other junk that gets through. Phone calls are no different than web leads in that respect.

You’re going to get a certain number that are immediately disqualified.

It can also help you internally prioritize calls to be directed to the best person in your organization suited for that call; faster and more efficiently.

9. Vanity or local numbers

Who doesn’t love a good vanity number?

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And what’s easier to remember? A string of ten numbers? Or a catchy phrase?

Vanity numbers improve recall rates by up to 84%. And, with mobile users, vanity numbers come with a 33% higher click through rate over generic numbers.

Vanity numbers work, especially for smaller companies, but don’t necessarily give you a lot of options for tracking. Presumably, every source would have the same vanity number, and you won’t be able to attach dynamic numbers to your different campaigns.

Another route to take is local phone numbers.

If your company is big enough that extend beyond just one area code, investing in local numbers for each area code can be good for business. Customers appreciate the “local presence” of the company and are attracted to the

Oh, almost forgot. This local number can increase the chances of a customer calling by up to 200%, too. So yeah, that’s probably worth testing too.

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10. The exit overlay

You came. You saw. You couldn’t find what you were looking for and were about to leave.

Then the exit overlay took over your screen.

Annoying, yes. But their performance backs up their use.

Data from CrazyEgg shows that “websites with pop-ups consistently outperform websites with no pop-ups.”

OptInMoster even has some crazy data that shows they’ve increased conversions by as much as 2100%. Which is like, A LOT better than that measly 0.4% conversion rate you’re settling for with the sidebar CTA everyone ignores.

So once again, put a unique number on it.

Even this seemingly simple popup below generated an additional 15% in monthly website revenue for a Toyota dealer.

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You have to think about why people are coming to your website in the first place. And why they’re about to leave.

If they were browsing blog posts, chances are they were gonna leave anyway. BUT, if they came through one of your PPC ads for a specific, solution-oriented keyphrase, chances are they were looking for something and can’t find it.

Getting them on the phone to talk through it is the most logical next step. And it gives you one last chance at getting the sale.


Why do people call?

Here’s what Google AdWords themselves had to say:

“We found that calling is most important during the research and purchase phases, where 52% and 61% of mobile searchers respectively say it’s important to have the ability to call. This means that a large number of calls happen when someone is ready to buy or helps a consumer move closer in purchase consideration.”

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So phone calls are coming in.  And since phone leads close at higher rates than other leads, you need to figure out what made them do it (so you can keep doing those things).

Call extensions are a good first step. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to call tracking. You’ll have to go beyond the SERPs, setting up unique numbers across your landing pages, navigation, exit overlays, and even retargeting campaigns so you know why.