Using call tracking services provides great information that you can use to make knowledgeable marketing decisions, as well as identifying opportunities in your call center. It is important though to fully consider the impact of assigning call-tracking phone numbers to everything in your marketing tool box to avoid any potential issues.

Before assigning a tracking number, some key things to consider are:

How do you plan to use the information you gather by using a tracking number?

Will that information be a) “clean” enough, or b) detailed enough to provide information that you can use to determine if your goals are being met or to make decisions?

A. If you put a tracking phone number on media such as a truck, billboard or radio commercial, where people are more likely to look you up on the web or in the yellow pages, rather than use that tracking phone number, your data will not be easily attributable to the ad source that drove the call. In your analysis of results you will need to account for the fact that the call count for both the specific advertising media you are tracking and the media they actually looked you up on will be skewed.

B. Using one overall tracking number on your website will combine all the calls that come in from any avenue to your website: Pay Per Click, SEO efforts, direct traffic (people that type in your website address), and referral traffic (links from anywhere to your website).

What technology options do you have through your phone system or call-tracking company or vendors? How can you best apply them? Here are some capabilities to consider:

  • Location identification and interactive voice response (IVR) are available in some phone systems and can be set up to provide useful tracking information.
  • Some call tracking companies can track calls from a variety of internet marketing sources—even down to the keyword level for both organic search and paid ads—while others can only offer tracking if you have control over the URL, such as for Google Adwords.

How long might the tracking phone number exist in the marketplace? How long do you plan to keep this number in service, either holding or re-using this number at your call-tracking company or by porting it over to your regular phone service?

  • People may keep a magnet or a yellow-pages book, and even some mailers, for years.
  • Would consumers be likely to put that tracking phone number from that Marketing plan Training
    tool in their phone contact list?

Determine in advance how you will address any of the potential issues above so that you won’t have disconnected (or reassigned to another company) phone numbers floating around that might cause you to miss any significant call volume in the future. Some examples of how to do this are:

  1. Reassign a tracking phone number from a marketing tool with a limited lifetime or an expiration date (at a later date) to another media. The carryover should be minimal, so it won’t significantly affect the results of the new tool.
  2. Port over (to your regular phone service) phone numbers that might still be delivering calls. Make sure in advance that your tracking service provider allows this. Some providers will not port toll free or vanity numbers.

Using tracking phone numbers on your internet marketing can provide some great information such as the conversion rate of your Pay-Per-Click or SEO campaigns. Depending on how it is done, it can also have additional implications, and in some cases can even work against your SEO efforts.

When putting tracking numbers on your website, Google My Business profile or other local search directories, you may want to discuss the best way to track calls and protect your search engine rankings with your marketing coach, webmaster, or SEO vendor.

**This post was updated 3/30/2017**

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Susan is the internet marketing coach for Nexstar. She helps residential service contractors succeed in the fast-changing world of all things internet.,,email, analytics, social media, SEO, SEM, PPC and all those other alphabet-soup names.