Measuring your website’s effectiveness with call tracking


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For many businesses, one of the best ways to measure how well your website is performing is with call tracking. This article discusses what call tracking is, what it can do for you and how you can implement it.

What is call tracking?
Call tracking involves putting a dummy phone number on your website which, if called, will forward to your real phone number, but will have the added benefit of tracking or logging call information so you can learn more about how the caller found your business.

The most basic way to implement call tracking is to have a single tracking number on your website so that if someone calls you will know that they found you through the internet. More advanced call tracking technology allows you to dynamically replace the number on your website depending on how the visitor found you. For example, you could display one phone number if the visitor came through Google, another if they came through Facebook, and another if they came to your domain directly.

Call tracking vendors
Call tracking is not new (it’s been used by the advertising industry for years), and the market for call tracking service providers is highly fragmented. Consequently, the shopping process can be very frustrating. To further complicate the issue, call tracking has become somewhat of a commodity, so many vendors are reluctant to give you pricing information until they’ve had a chance to walk you through the additional benefits of their service. This seems to be the MO of the big call tracking vendors — Voicestar, Ifbyphone, Mongoose and so forth.

My personal favorite has been Twilio. Twilio is not a call tracking vendor per-se, but instead it’s a service that allows you to buy a phone number and program it to do what you want. Think of it as Google Voice but with a lot more capabilities. The best part about Twilio is that it’s cheap — $1 per phone number per month + $0.01 per minute.

Steps to implement Twilio:

  1. Create a Twilio account and buy a Twilio phone number
  2. Program the phone number to forward all calls to your main number + send you an email with call information whenever a call is received
  3. Replace the phone number on your website with your Twilio number, and you’re in business

If you’re not comfortable with the programming in step 2, you might consider hiring a web developer for about an hour’s worth of work (or less if he/she is already familiar with Twilio). If you’re running WordPress, you can also use a plugin that Skyhook developed called WP Call Tracking.

Integrating with Google Analytics
So by now you’ve got your call tracking set up and working, and you’re receiving an email every time you receive a phone call telling you where your customer came from. But email is messy and you have a tough time seeing data trends and separating the value of real leads from solicitors. Enter Google Analytics.

By making some additions to the code you wrote in step #2 above, you can program your Twilio number to notify Google Analytics whenever a call comes in. Just use a script like Galvanize.php to pass a URL to your Google Analytics number, then set up a “goal” in Google Analytics to listen for that URL. Easy peasy! If you really want to get fancy, you can do something like what we’ve done in WP Call Tracking and set up a “Was this a lead?” question in your email or logging interface which, if “yes” is clicked, will report a goal conversion to Google Analytics ONLY if the phone call was a legitimate lead.

Best of luck to you!