When it comes to effective distribution of marketing budgets, eCommerce businesses that accept orders not only through the digital carts on the website but also through inbound calls, all face the same problem: the inability to see a unified picture of marketing channels that brought customers to their decision to purchase. Here call tracking tools step in. Together with Kate Guzevataya, Head of Web Analytics at Promodo we have explored the topic in full and share our findings with you.
Call tracking is a set of actions that allow you to figure out which marketing activities in particular are the ones that actioned calls to your business. This is based on assigning a phone tracking number to an ad source which is of interest (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, newsletters, offline ads, etc). With call tracking, marketers can measure the effectiveness of certain ad campaigns, which allows to allocate marketing budgets in a more efficient way. When talking about call tracking for eCommerce, we often refer to Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI).
DNI is a technology used in call tracking to assign attribution to inbound phone calls. With DNI, a dynamic phone number is displayed to website users depending on the source they are coming from. In other words, website visitors will see a different number depending on the type of ad that brought them to the website. This way, phone calls coming from a specific visit are attributed back to the proper source, so marketers can evaluate traffic and volume coming from different advertising campaigns.
Why may you consider using call tracking with dynamic number insertion?
We differentiate three types of call tracking: static, dynamic and combined. All of them work based on a dedicated script, so that every time a user visits your website, the code replaces the phone number that is displayed with the respective tracking numbers assigned to specific marketing sources, users or keywords.
Static call tracking allows you to track only the ad i.e. the marketing channel. Unique tracking numbers from a call tracking system and assign them to the marketing sources you want to measure.
Dynamic call tracking allows you to track not just the ad source but provides a detailed picture, including the keywords that led customers to making the call.
What is good about dynamic call tracking? Probably, its main benefit over static tracking is the pool of numbers provided. The technology is as follows: when the user visits the website, they are assigned a unique phone number. This phone number cannot be assigned to any other user at this moment, otherwise the statistics is not counted. Accordingly, the volume of these numbers depends on the website traffic: the more traffic, the more call tracking will cost the company. Choosing static call tracking, we can select 10-15 channels for the project and pay for this pool of channels only – this will certainly cost significantly cheaper. This leads us to the conclusion that not every project can afford dynamic call tracking due to the fact that they really have large volumes of traffic.
Combined call tracking means exactly how it reads. When your website handles large amounts of traffic and lots of calls, you may take a look at combined call tracking.
Let’s say a client receives most traffic through Google / CPC. At the same time, they still want to control how many calls come from other channels. Along with that, they are not interested in the details of the campaign and the keywords, because these simply can be referrals or price aggregators. In this case, dynamic call tracking is configured on Google CPC traffic, so that the information about calls can further be used to manage the campaign. In this case, they may also configure static tracking statics for all other channels.
The answer is: all eCommerce businesses that receive a great number of calls daily. And not just eCommerce businesses. Any commercial project with the 50:50 distribution between orders received from the website and those received via phone calls may consider using call tracking with dynamic number insertion.
Call tracking allows you to track an online user. But what if you are running a number of offline ads, i.e, place billboards and distribute fliers? Those can be tracked using static call tracking. The principle is the same: there is a telephone number allocated for the channel in question, and when customers are calling certain numbers, you are able to understand if the customer came from a billboard placed at a certain location or another printed ad distributed offline.
In other words, call tracking can be a fit for whatever niche that offers their product on the website. The only restriction is the size of business. If we get back to eCommerce projects, call tracking is probably not a good choice for large and enterprise projects – those usually receive about 80% of orders through the online shopping cart. With such traffic volume, using call tracking services can simply cost a fortune, as using any service, you will have to pay both for its usage and the numbers you are going to allocate for different channels.
Considering call tracking for your online store, you might be curious about the pitfalls.
In general, the use of call tracking is rather obvious and requires no special reasoning. Although there is also a dark side that lies in the technology itself. Call tracking may be confusing with the repeat customers who often associate a company with certain phone numbers and may even have them recorded in their phones contacts. This way, you risk losing those who were previously calling a certain number that has been lost because of dynamic number insertion: if a user visits the website while a dynamic phone number insertion script is running, they find a number they are going to dial later on and write it down. But when making a call using the previously recorded number, the user may simply fail to hear the reply on the other end, as the dynamic phone number insertion script may already be off or even not in use any longer. This is a common issue, as the user may not even remember the website – they are likely to visit it from an online ad.
A dynamic phone number insertion script is a technical component of the process. How does substitution on the website work? A call tracking service provides a script to be installed and running on the website. It can either be done by a programmer (they place the script directly into the website’s code) on your side or an analyst who will make it work through Google Tag Manager container. This script literally substitutes a phone number shown on the website with a call tracking number. The user dials the substituted number, and the stats on the channel they came from is counted correspondingly.
Among the large and trusted call tracking services, we at Promodo tried three: Ringostat, Binotel and Nextel. The latter, at the time of our cooperation, was the most cost-effective option, though had several technical weaknesses compared to the two other options.
Ringostat is a costlier service that at the same time has a more sophisticated system structure, i.e, a richer personal account interface that even allows to set up end-to-end analytics. It provides a dedicated API to collect stats on inbound calls.
Binotel is simpler in this regard, but they provide an outstanding technical support quality and help to set up data transfer through the API. Their integration and data transfer capacities are definitely worth considering, especially at a relatively low price they offer. The only possible show stopper is that they mostly provide dynamic call tracking options.
An API or application programming interface provides a dedicated environment that is used to collect data on the calls.
It’s up to you which of the services to choose. Moreover, you are not limited to the three options we mentioned above. When deciding on the call tracking service for you, it’s usually a matter of budget only, as the functionality of modern tools is diverse.
It’s quite challenging to predict how much call tracking will cost for your online business. The price indicated on the services’ websites usually includes only the cost of using the service. While, as we mentioned before, you’ll have to additionally pay for the volume of phone numbers, which usually cost more than the service itself.
The volume of phone numbers equals the number of customers calling. In case of static call tracking, the volume depends on the channels we want to track: if they are 15, then each will require a separate phone number. By the way, it’s up to you to decide on the number type (0800, mobile numbers etc). Speaking about dynamic call tracking, a phone number is assigned to each customer who gets to the websites from a respective ad. The traffic coming is mostly measured with Google Analytics. Which means it’s rather complicated to predict from scratch how much dynamic call tracking will cost. At the same time, services like Binotel use a dedicated script that measures traffic on the website: for two weeks it collects data about users and, then builds a forecast based on the volume within a certain timeframe. The key point here is a peak load, that is a maximal number of users per a unit of time – there may be a totally different number of users throughout the day, and the volume of phone number need to cover the peak load (if the volume is not enough, we’ll not be able to track all ad sources and keywords that lead customers to the website).
Getting back to talking money. Here is a use case from our practice.
We calculated the budgets for a project of 50k users per day and up to 2 million users per month. We suggested a combined call tracking solution, that cost about $3.5k per month. If we went for a static solution, the cost would vary from $1.7k to 2.2k per month. Dynamic call tracking would cost from $3k to 5.3k per month. But again, it also depends on the number types: 0800 cost less than mobiles). The cost of using the numbers depends on the service provider and the agreements they make with different call tracking services.
So, what do you pay for when you choose to use call tracking services? You do pay for the service usage, the number of phone numbers required. Additionally, you will be charged for Analytics services (if you go further than the free version of Google Analytics) and by the marketing agency if you hire any.
It all depends on the task you aim to solve. If you need to track the transactions only, then you are good with the freemium option. In case you are interested in tracking the calls and need a unified view of your sales represented in analytics reports that are not a part of Google Analytics by default, then, we suggest using custom reports offered at an additional fee.
As a rule, the freemium version of Google Analytics is taken as a basis, as it can be customised to tweak what’s missing. If it comes for mobile apps, there are several tools, including paid trackers, such as Firebase Analytics, which previously existed separately, and after the release of Google Analytics 4 also became part of Google Analytics. Among the other possible options are paid trackers like Amplitude, Appsflyer, Adjust – all of them are used with mobile apps and allow to track traffic sources in a more efficient way. Using them, you are usually charged for the installations (the more paid installations you want to monitor, the more you pay for the service).
How to get started with Google Analytics 4? Check our blog post to know more.
We hope you’ve got the notion of what is call tracking up to this paragraph. But even if you haven’t, let’s build a picture of the technical side of call tracking.
A user comes to your website from an ad, obviously they are looking for your company’s contact numbers. At this moment, the dynamic phone number insertion script that has been placed in the code of the website is running. The number is dynamic, and is automatically assigned to the user or better say to the device used in this process. This way the information on the ad source is tracked and then recorded in the call tracking account.
Call tracking account is an essential component of any service that offers call tracking with DNI. The service usually offers the technical support to help with the account setup. In other words, a personal call tracking account acts as an intermediate between the service and its client, helping them to satisfy the needs and establish the setup of call tracking on the website. In general, a call tracking account is mostly used by a technical specialist – they are aware of how things are organised and can swiftly check the stats or make a basic setup. At the same time, the customer of a call tracking service will also be able to check the calls stats using the specific interfaces of the personal account.
Apart from the information about the ad source, recorded are the cookies of every user. They are further used to extract the detailed information about the source including the keyword that led the user to making a call. Conventionally, this is a Client ID assigned by Google Analytics. This ID is further used to help correlate the information collected with the data from a CRM, Google Analytics etc.
As a rule, in Google Analytics one user who visits the website from both mobile and desktop is counted as two separate users. Cross-device analytics can only be configured with the help of user_id. This ID is another parameter that can be realised by a programmer as a custom setting and used to distinguish a specific user that also allows to add data from the CRM system used on your side.
There are plenty of things, to tell the truth. We’d like to cover the most essential and the less obvious ones.
Call tracking is a useful way to learn which ad sources drove users to your website. Despite the variety of technical aspects to take into account, the process is rather straightforward and lies in assigning a telephone number to each ad source that drove users to your website. At the same time, choosing a service, setting up analytics and tracking where the calls are coming from as well as taking decisions on budget allocations is not something who’s only getting started with call tracking can handle in isolation.
Promodo Digital Agency has a strong expertise and an entire Web Analytics department working to help you monitor how your marketing efforts are performing. End-to-end analytics of your website provides a unified view of all the key channels that are a part of your marketing strategy. If you find a blind spot in your reports and aspire to beware of everything that drives sales to your website, contact us now and let us stand by your side moving forward.
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