Search and Phone Calls

Mar 2, 2006 • 2:02 pm | comments (0) by twitter | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2006 New York
 

One of the hotter topics of the day is reserved for the very last session of SES NYC. As search advertising costs on a CPC basis have gone up, so have the costs per acquisition, especially in some industries. Could Cost Per Call be the next “best value” in search advertising?

Came in late…Danny Sullivan moderating. Missed Dave Roth from Carat’s presentation. He was finishing up with a comment about how important it is to measure calls from search-related leads.

Brian Waldman from Merchant Wharehouse. Has been working with ClickPath since they started, trying to ensure they measure inbound calls from search efforts. “How call tracking works on merchantwarehouse.com." They value people getting to the site because they are many ways they can convert. They don’t use their phone number in their PPC creative, but instead allocate a particular 800 number to each person that comes through from search. This number tracks their particular search term, which is great for their sales people.

Is measuring calls important? Many companies shy away from search because there is no onsite “conversion event.” Even on ecommerce sites, a call to an order center is highly desirable for high end products. Of all purchasing research done online, only 35% of orders occur there. With Pay per click, you are already paying for the traffic, why not know the true value. We all know that conversion is king, what if your company could now credit 50-100% more conversions from search? 73% of their paid search activity results in a phone call. Imagine not knowing where all these conversions came from? If they were not measuring this, they would be looking at a break even ROI, thus search would not provide adequate results. Impact of measuring calls: with calls: ROI 425%, without measuring them, their ROI was 113%. The use ClickPath for this and really like it. It records every call that comes in, which allows for call reviews, measures offline conversion tracking, allows for call routing and disposition, and gives a method to review fraud. The ability to allocate an 8000 through anything is very important. Call routing is big because it allows a different search to lead to a different sales section. For example, if some one searches ofr a brand name, they can lead to the page they want, as well as leading the 800 number assigned to them directly to a sales rep. With call disposition, it allows for a simple “press a button” option for the sales rep to report the results of the call. The fraud review feature is great…uses the referring URL to determine of it’s for real.

Is call tracking for you? Gives a high value to inbound calls, helps you measure your ROI more efficiently, allows for recording calls and evaluating your sales team.

Christer Ljungdahl from National Instruments. Will speak about the value of inbound calls. They really want to convert traffic to phone calls. They sell direct, which is good because they have engineers that understand. 35% of all their web traffic comes form search, and 50% of their inbound calls originate from the web. They publish and track phone numbers that are dynamic. They are country context sensitive, topic specific, and site section context specific. They can publish any number based on a multitude of parameters. First, make sure that a visitor has a good chance of finding your contact us page. They assign a greater value to people that look though the site more than just the home page, indicating more interest. Remember that phone calls don’t always come through during the visit. They use a printer friendly option with local contact information based on user. If some don’t call, email or print the contact form, find out why. They use the “call me” option also, and customers like the option. When they click on that choice and submit, within 2 seconds, the phone will ring, and the agent has a popup screen with all knowledge about the customer already harvested. If not business hours, they ask for less information and tell them they will be called during business hours. They even use the phone number on the “call me” page, in case they want to call. They try to get as much info as possible without “turning the customer off.”

Measuring the conversion flow is very easy with the analytics available today. This allows for changes like moving calls-to-action, etc. How to lose business? If you aren’t publishing your number. Takeways: make it easy for people to contact you, use different phone numbers. Understand why people chose not to call you. If you can’t get a call now, try to get one letter. Phone calls can reduce your online orders, so if this is your main goal you have to decide. It will drive your overall revenue. They saw a tripling of conversion rates when they became more aggressive in publishing the phone number.

Q&A speakers include Ted Carpenter, who has the ClickPath product, and Mark Barach from Ingenio, which has a pay per call product.

Ted: a small pool of phone numbers is allocated to various behavior patterns. You can use a number that stays active for an hour, a day, a week, etc. The longer a number stays active, the more numbers you will use. As an example, if you have a 10,000 keyword campaign, you’ll be using about 100 numbers.

“How much does it cost?” ClickPath is anywhere from 500 to 1500 dollars a month. There is a licensing fee and then a per minute charge. The calls are routed through their (ClickPath’s) switching network, and then they bill directly. Some companies that have a lot of calls spend upwards of $10,000/month.

What about privacy issues? Has there been research about the security of phone call data? They mentioned earlier that calls are sometimes recorded to help find keywords. What is being done to work the PR spin? Ted: their network doesn’t use VOIP, but instead a safer method. You get the name/address/phone number of who is calling, usually. As long as your privacy policy states that you will not resell the data, you will be fine. Danny says it is fair to say if you are going into any click-to-call situation, you should be very aware of the platform you are using and possibly note it on your site (ie: your call will be recorded to mine keywords-laughs)

What if someone calls repeatedly? Ingenio delivers customers, not phone calls. Any time the caller calls again from the same phone is an non-billed event (typically within a 30 day period). David says that their reports detail all calls, billed or not. Brian adds that they have their sales reps give their extension, and ask people to call back on that.

Woohoo all done…see you at SES San Jose!

This is part of the Search Engine Roundtable Blog coverage of the New York Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo 2006. For other SES topics covered, please visit the Roundtable SES NYC 2006 category archives.

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