Do you have a shopping cart on your Web site? For most of us, the answer is no. For the average company, phone sales are the biggest way that new customers cross over from the Web to an actual sale. The question is whether you track those sales back to the Web or not. The big guys have been doing this for a long time. They track every phone sale back to SEO, PPC, or whatever marketing tactic led to the sale. Why do they do this? Because without knowing which tactics are leading to sales, you have no idea how much to invest in each type of marketing.


Image by Pete Prodoehl via Flickr

When I worked at IBM, they created a new way to track phone calls, the "Call Me" button. Instead of waiting for customers to call the phone number on the site, they allowed Web visitors to press a button on the page that gets the right person at IBM to call them within a few minutes. It was better for customers (no hold time and no explaining where you were on the site), but it was also better for IBM because they could track that phone call from the Web visit that caused it and they could track it through to an eventual sale.

But you're not IBM, right? That solution required some interesting technology and a high-margin product line to pay for it.

You might relate more to, the online jewelry retailer that several years ago developed a way of putting different phone numbers on its site depending on where the traffic came from. So, the site would display one phone number when PPC searchers came to the site and another one when they reached the site based on SEO, for example. That way, they could track sales by tactic, so they knew which tactics to spend more resources on.

But you're not, right? Perhaps they seem more accessible than IBM, but it still seems a bit difficult. If you are bold and ready to do this yourself, this technique is called Dynamic Number Insertion, and there are a few techniques that can work, such as reverse proxies and JavaScript codes.

But maybe you aren't interested in developing anything. If someone had a package that did this for you, and it wasn't too expensive or too difficult, maybe that would work. Those kinds of packages are starting to gain in popularity. Companies such as IfByPhone and CallSource are available that can do exactly what you needed to code yourself just a few years ago.

If you still don't know what made a prospective customer call you, what are you waiting for?

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June 16, 2011

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


Timely article, thanks! I think it's the next logical step to be tracking calls from your site, after implementing Google Analytics or similar. I'll be suggesting this to some of my clients. FYI, another similar service, although a lot more "hands on" (ie perfect for developers and not as perfect for business owners who may not be as "tech savy") would be I have no affiliation with them, just thought it would "add' to the discussion. Incidentally enough I've never tried their service, so am not "vouching" for it either.... :)

Just be sure not to use these call tracking numbers in business listings for "local" search - like google maps, online yellow pages and online directories. The search engines penalize you for confusing them between these tracking numbers and your real number. Their view is that these listings are not advertising.

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