How Bad Local Data Leads to Bad Calls — And Frustrated Customers

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Telmetrics-After-the-ClickThis is the third in a series of articles, sponsored by Telmetrics, focused on the acute problem of attribution in mobile. To read the previous articles in the series, click here. You can also click here to view the company’s talk at Street Fight Summit on the topic.

Let’s start with an example: A man conducts a mobile search for homeowner’s insurance for his condo. He clicks on the call button of an ad from an agency that looks to be nearby. His goal is to set up an appointment in order to learn more about the agency’s products and his options. But the call is answered by a robotic-sounding recording which he deems unprofessional, so he hangs up and chooses another ad from his search. This time he gets through to an office receptionist, but he learns that this insurance agency specializes only in life and automobile coverage. He hangs up, again — and puts off his search for condo insurance until later.

Missed Calls, Quiet Cash Registers
In a pay-per-call campaign, quality and accuracy are king. In the above example, depending on how those ad programs were set up, both insurance agencies that were contacted could end up paying a big price for those dead-end leads. In addition, the advertisers won’t register any new business if the true targets of their campaigns are not reached.

This is frustrating for both consumer and advertiser — especially for mobile call campaigns because the person who is searching and making the call is likely ready to make a purchase — usually within 24 hours, according to the recent xAd/Telmetrics 2014 Mobile Path-to-Purchase study. To put a finer point on it, 1 out of 4 mobile insurance searches result in a conversion, 60 percent of which are happening offline, including 43 percent via calls.

How Bad Calls Happen
The path from search to call includes opportunities for optimizing results — as well as opportunities for serious missteps.

A good call campaign looks at a prospect’s location, any known demographics, and the search intent. That data gets matched against a taxonomy that is applied to ads in a given network and a relevant ad delivered. An advertiser pays for this lead, with expectations that it is qualified, based on matching the data to the taxonomy. If the data is misunderstood, it may be matched to the wrong category of ads. Worse, if an ad wasn’t properly labeled, it may miss this interested party altogether.

Other missteps may happen if advertiser data is outdated — old address and phone number information, for example, or updated hours of operation. An out-of-service number or a typo in the number that leads to a different business can have ramifications on a potential customer relationship, as well as wasting the advertiser’s dollars for that lead.

The Cost of Bad Calls
Google research shows that not having a call button on an online ad can damage a business’s reputation. The consumer may become annoyed, choose a different brand or company, view the business less favorably, and be less likely to recommend the brand or company. Connecting bad calls has the same effect, as does the absence of or difficulty finding contact info/phone numbers. To aid mobile-driven conversions via calls, mobile campaigns should prominently feature phone numbers/contact info for consumers to easily connect and make a purchase.

Time is money, for both consumers and advertisers. After a mismatched call goes through, the consumer needs to continue searching for a solution, while the business ends up paying for a bad lead. In addition, a call center employee or local business owner may have just wasted five minutes on an unqualified lead when they instead could have been converting a qualified one into a customer.

Equally important: having trained staff, or the business owners themselves, adept at handling inbound leads can identify the good leads and quickly redirect the bad ones to optimize the customer experience and conversion opportunities. Also – so as not to negatively impact the analytics around call duration and conversions.

Identifying the Right Analytics
Smart mobile ad and search providers use call data to optimize their campaigns. Usually the program will set an established call duration, before which the advertiser will not have to pay for the call. That’s why it’s important to redirect those false leads in a timely manner. Finding that optimal window, however, can take some time. Providers and advertisers should review results after 30 or 60 days to see what times and channels are working and which aren’t, then readjust as needed.

Other metrics to consider:

— number of calls
— unique leads (versus repeat callers)
— time and day of the calls
— keyword analysis
— traffic sources
— phone type
— caller location
— cross-channel engagement

The Essential Components of Pay Per Call Success

1. Data sources
To optimize a call campaign, the advertiser needs to share as much detailed information as possible with the program provider about the business and its products and services. And although this might seem like a no-brainer, the information needs to be accurate.

For example, opening hours. If an ad lists a business open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Sunday, but its actual hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday, searchers who call during those closed times will either have unanswered calls, or they’ll find out the business is closed. A targeted mobile campaign should serve up ads for the advertiser only during its opening hours.

The same goes for location. A business in New York City listed at 725 Fifth Avenue should also include whether it’s in the borough of Manhattan or Brooklyn — as the same address exists in both places. And don’t forget zip codes plus longitude and latitude, as they’re increasingly important used with geo-location apps on smartphones.

Keywords are also key, for two reasons. First, they describe a business’s products and services. Second, those keywords can be used to filter ads and callers, and focus campaigns on high-performing categories or those that are underserved.

The keywords should drill down to sub-categories for optimal matching — for example: the main categories for a high-end beauty salon might include makeup, skincare, and specialty services, while sub-categories could include makeup lessons, eyelash extensions, wedding services, lifting facial, microdermabrasion, glycolic peel treatments.

2. Targets
Narrowing the scope of a pay-per-call campaign leads to better ROI. A local advertiser in a dense urban environment may want to limit its ad exposure to mobile searchers within a 3-mile radius. For those in the suburbs, a 15-mile radius might be needed to result in sufficient leads.

Using keywords, a campaign for the beauty salon mentioned above, whose services average $300, would not want to bid for searches on just “facial.” Targeting the ads for searchers entering “anti-oxidant facial” or “anti-aging lifting facial” will result in better matches, as those are typically high-priced services.

3. Trackable Numbers
An important way to improve pay-per-call attribution is to implement dynamic call tracking, also known as dynamic number insertion (DNI). DNI works by adding a snippet of JavaScript code in any type of online ad campaign — display ads, mobile, apps, directory, paid search keywords, search engines, social — and then automatically replaces contact numbers on destination pages with unique phone numbers to track response by channel and greater attribution beyond the ad click. The Path-to-Purchase study found that 73% of searchers prefer local numbers over toll-free ones, and Google reports an 8% increase of clicks on ads with local numbers.

When customers call those dynamic numbers, they are routed either directly to an advertiser or a call center for lead qualification, with resulting call analytics providing a more accurate picture of offline attribution and monetization opportunities. Combined with online, click-based analytics, this allows marketers to identify the channels that generate the best leads, and they can then redistribute marketing budgets to take advantage of those avenues with the highest conversion rates, leading to lower CPAs and increased ROI.

Mobile pay per call campaigns are probably the most powerful tool for attribution. As marketers seek to better understand the ROI of their marketing dollars, a digital campaign that focuses on mobile and pay-per-call will take them that much closer to tracking the complete path to purchase.

TelmetricsThe fourth post in the “After the Click” series will take a deeper look into tracking consumer behavior.