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7 Misconceptions About AdWords Call Tracking from 821 Lead-Gen Clients

White Shark Media

10 years ago



Working with lead generation today is equal to you needing to work with call tracking as well.

There are no longer any excuses for not tracking your leads every step of the way. There are no excuses for not knowing the precise efficiency of your direct marketing.

The amount of misconceptions about call tracking is increasing almost every day and it’s hard to figure out exactly what the source is.

My best guess is that the misconceptions come from a mix of uninformed business owners and scam-agencies trying to keep their clients from tracking what is really going on.

In this post, I will use the combined knowledge obtained from optimizing more than 821 local AdWords clients and share what I believe are the common misconceptions about call tracking.


Typical Reasons Why Small Business Owners Don’t Want Call Tracking 

1) I Don’t Want To Show An 800 Number

When we first started working with call tracking, we saw a couple of cases where the amount of phone calls dropped significantly after implementing call tracking.

The cases where we saw a decrease in calls were limited to local businesses that served an area smaller than 50-80 mile in radius. The decrease in calls was so serious that we had to undo the implementation in all cases. The same day we took away the implementation the call volume bounced back to the regular levels.

After careful testing, we discovered the reason was our call tracking provider’s use of 800-numbers. We were only able to use 800-numbers, which for most of our local clients resulted in a lower call volume. We had underestimated how much local numbers resonate with the local habitants in a county.

We solved this quickly by moving to another call tracking provider who offered local numbers so precise that it would only be the last 4 digits that changed in a phone number.

Right after implementing the new provider’s solution, we could track that the reported call levels remained the same immediately after implementation.

2) I Want To Brand My Phone Number

This is a typical response we hear at White Shark Media. However, it’s mainly built on false grounds.

First of all, can you cite 5 phone numbers for service providers (that are not your local eatery)? I’m sure you can’t, which is precisely the case. Phone number branding was big back in the day when you had to remember a phone number or sift through 50 pages in the phonebook.

That’s not the case anymore. If you don’t remember a phone number you just Google the name of the company, and if you don’t remember the name of the company, you can just Google the service you’re looking for.

Also, the phone number only changes for new visitors that come from your AdWords ads. Therefore, your phone number will only change for new visitors who will not be able to recognize your phone number. Your regular phone number will still be shown for regular visitors to your website.

At the same time, it’s also worth mentioning that your current phone number will continue to be your main phone number. Implementing call tracking doesn’t change your phone number. The “new” phone numbers simply forward to your existing phone number.

3) My Advertising Isn’t Performing At All, So We Have No Calls To Track

We hear this surprisingly often from new customers at White Shark Media. Their current campaigns aren’t producing any calls, so they tell us rather quickly they are not interested in call tracking.

What you don’t realize is that if you share this mindset and wait until you actually produce calls, you will have missed important metrics. As PPC managers, we regularly optimize accounts based on the metrics we see. If we see that a keyword is spending a lot of money, but it’s not generating any conversions/calls, we will reduce the bid for that specific keyword.

If you do get 10 calls the first week, but spent $2,000 in total and you “only” earned $7,000 in revenue, which caused a loss of $1,500, you wouldn’t know what parts of your campaign generated the $7,000 in revenue. By having call tracking in place before you start getting calls, we avoid error prone optimizations.

It might be one part of the campaign that only spent $400 that produced the $7,000 in revenue. All of a sudden, your campaign is highly profitable and you will want to increase spend in this area.

If you don’t have call tracking in place from day one, you might miss out on obvious optimizations to your campaign that can mean the difference between losing money and increasing your profits.

4) You Should Already Know What Keywords and Ads Result in Calls

Many small business owners think that just because you work with PPC (even at the expert level), you can predict what keywords and ads will result in leads.

Just as a stockbroker can’t predict the market, no one can predict how AdWords campaigns will perform. Yes, a skilled PPC manager can choose the keywords most likely to result in conversions and write ads that are proven to attract buyers instead of lookers. However, we can’t predict how the PPC market will interact with your website and the current state of the AdWords auction. 

5) Call Tracking Is Not Worth The Added Expense

Whenever I’ve worked with lead generation in the past and met with resistance towards the potential expense of call tracking, I’ve always offered to take the expense out of my assigned budget.

I can get infinite more out of a $9,500 monthly budget with call tracking than I can with a $10,000 monthly budget without call tracking.

With call tracking you’re able to optimize for what really matters: Leads.

When you’re not using call tracking you will only optimize for a higher CTR. This is perhaps the single most important takeaway from this blog post.

You can compare it with repairing a car. With call tracking you have an advanced diagnostics computer that helps you fine-tune a nice automobile.

Without call tracking you’re repairing an old car from the 80s, but besides having no tools you’re also doing it blindfolded.

We Included Call Tracking For Free

One of my best case studies for why you should implement call tracking is actually White Shark Media. After including call tracking for free in all our AdWords management plans, we actually succeeded in increasing the lifetime value for all clients.

Increased performance and better reporting capabilities left our clients happier with our service and the results we provided. We don’t have a stake in our clients’ companies, so we wouldn’t get anything out of increased performance per se.

Our fee remains the same no matter if the client gets $1,000 or $10,000 in revenue from AdWords. Seeing that we don’t work with contracts, our clients are free to leave at any time without cancellation fees.

The fact that we could measure an increase in revenue from investing in call tracking for our clients speaks quite a bit about how impactful call tracking can be on your results. 

6) We Already Ask Where People Find Us

To be honest, we do the same thing at White Shark Media. We spend high figures on marketing every month and we track to an extent that it gets too much.

However, when you use both manual and automatic tracking efforts, you tend to get a feel for what is most reliable. Where the manual tracking is great for people saying: “We’ve followed your blog and we love what you write”, finding out the exact search terms that people used when contacting you is almost impossible.

At the time of writing this I solicited assistance from three conversion rate optimization companies not longer than 8 hours ago. I have no recollection of the keywords I used to find the companies, and I have a far less recollection of the many different searches I completed.

So, even though it’s great that you ask your customers where they find you, it can’t be used as reliable data for optimizing your AdWords campaigns.

7) Call Tracking Will Negatively Impact My Google Local Search Rankings

For the seventh misconception, I talked with our friends at Ifbyphone who are a call tracking provider. They often hear advertisers saying they are afraid of switching phone numbers, because they might be negatively impacted by the transition.

Read most advertisers/ business owners’ take on this, as explained by Angelo Tsakonas a call tracking provider Ifbyphone:

“First, a bit of background: Google includes a business’s NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency as part of their ranking algorithm for local search. Call tracking works by displaying a different phone number on your web pages based on how each visitor found you (PPC ad, banner ad, keyword search, social media site, etc.).

Some marketers are concerned that displaying different call tracking phone numbers violates NAP consistency and would thereby negatively impact a business’s Google rankings and cost them visibility to searchers (and ultimately revenue). Some have even suggested that if Google local search rankings are important to your business, you should forgo all forms of call tracking.

The truth is that if properly implemented, call tracking does not negatively impact a business’s Google search rankings. You can display different phone numbers on a web page for different traffic sources and derive all the benefits of call tracking while still maintaining Google NAP consistency.

How? By using dynamic number insertion (DNI). DNI works by automatically displaying a unique phone number on your site based on each visitor’s Google search. It does this using a snippet of JavaScript code in place of your phone number.

And since Google indexing doesn’t spider JavaScript, you can use DNI to display trackable numbers on your site that Google can’t see. The end result is that with DNI, you get the full benefits of tracking calls back to Google SEO and PPC ads, and your Google local search rankings aren’t impacted. It’s a win-win.”

3 Tips on How To Get The Most Out of Call Tracking

There is a lot of advice on how to work with call tracking already accessible on this blog, so I won’t go too much into details about how to work with call tracking.

I have collected the three best practices from my book that I believe you should take advantage of if you’re going to use call tracking.

1) Only Count Real Phone Calls

Almost all call tracking providers have a way to only track calls that are of a longer duration than the limit you set. I highly encourage you to use this.

If you’ve ever been responsible for answering the phone in a company, you know how many salesmen, crawlers, web dialers, etc. can call you throughout the day.

Furthermore, some people might just call to find out that you don’t service their area or that you can’t get to them today. These leads shouldn’t be optimized toward in your AdWords campaign. The best choice is to simply omit this data from your statistics.

I advocate a 60-second threshold on phone calls. If the phone call didn’t last more than 60-seconds, we don’t count it as a lead in campaigns for clients at White Shark Media. Individual clients might have specific requests about longer or shorter durations based on their needs, but all in all 60 seconds is a good standard to use.

2) Record Your Calls And Listen To Them

Upon permission from our clients, we like to analyze the types of phone calls they receive. After analyzing thousands of phone calls, we have been able to optimize countless poor business practices:

A client actually told people that he didn’t want their business if he was in a bad mood: Yes, this was an awkward conversation.

However, the SEM Supervisor who had known the guy for 2 years helped him to get started with a relatively cheap Call Center that now qualifies leads for him that he can call when he feels ready. His business has never been better and he has more time to work in other areas of his business that he enjoys more.

A lawyer’s assistant always brushed off new calls by saying he was busy:

He was in fact always busy.

One of our Senior SEM Strategists helped him outline a new script for his assistant to read when a new lead contacted the business. Upon implementing this new script, he has tripled the amount of revenue he gets from AdWords.

A contractor didn’t know how to close new leads that came in:

Our SEM Strategist got one of our Regional Sales Managers to give the client a 30-minute session on how to close new business leads. Now, 4 months after, the client is happier than ever and has since then attended several seminars on selling, because he saw good results from a mere 30-minute phone session.

The amount of information you can get from listening to your recordings can be incredible. Make sure you enable this feature and use it vigorously.

If you’re too busy to listen through all your phone calls, our friends at have an algorithm that will automatically score your phone calls based on criteria you set:

By McKay Allen from

“Use Conversation Analytics to Extract Data out of Phone Calls

In the old days you actually had to listen to phone calls to figure out if your sales team was effective, if your callers were sales ready, or if there were Missed Opportunities for more revenue on the call.

Those days are over.

Now, you can have data like Lead Score, Conversion Rate, Appointment Set, Purchase Made, and even Missed Opportunities, extracted from the phone call automatically.

This is done with a tool called Conversation Analytics from LogMyCalls. It uses speech recognition technology and hundreds of thousands of proprietary algorithms to literally ‘listen’ to phone calls and determine exactly what happened on the call.

To learn more about the exact metrics you can extract from phone calls using Conversation Analytics, you can download a White Paper called: “45 Cool Analytics We Can Extract From Phone Calls.

3) Import to Analytics/AdWords for Rapid Optimization Data

Data without action is for the most part worthless. The best way to take action on your call tracking data is if it’s right in front of you, making it easy for you to take action.

When choosing a call tracking provider, it’s crucial that you get a way to seamlessly integrate the data with Google Analytics. Doing so enables you to import your Analytics goal (in this case a phone call) into AdWords where you can see exactly what search term, keyword and ad resulted in the lead.

It’s simply too time-consuming to manually compare your AdWords metrics with the data you see in your call tracking interface.

People Always Fear What They Don’t Know

Call tracking is one of those things that are rather technical. You use a JavaScript code to dynamically change the phone number in the HTML code on my website so it corresponds with the ad and keyword that was used in Google?

And you’re saying I need to pay a fixed price per month per phone number I use + the minutes I spend, but you can’t tell me how many numbers or minutes I’ll use?

I’m sorry, that’s way too complicated for me. Let us just keep doing what we’re doing.

If that sounds like you, then know it’s a very common attitude. I myself had the very same attitude 3 years ago. Call tracking was a big area that was hard to implement, took time from my day and I didn’t really know the cost of it.

The one thing that finally made me realize we needed to integrate call tracking was that it would give us a competitive edge. Our competitors weren’t or aren’t doing it, so it’s our way of offering more for less.

You can do the same. By implementing call tracking, you will be ahead of your less savvy competitors and your ability to make money will exceed theirs by many factors.