What We’re Reading: Phone Tracking, AdWords Complexity & Microconversions
I was working on a post about answering common client questions (ok, complaints) about PPC advertising, when I came across three posts that answered three of the questions just as well, if not better, than I could. Since I’m still going to write a short-form rundown (fear not!), I thought it would be good to share some of these great pieces with our audience. Although all of these articles relate to Pay-Per-Click advertising, there are some nuggets in them that are applicable throughout your marketing efforts.
First, Theresa Boiacco details some of the quick math involved with judging the value of phone calls on 3Q Digital’s blog. We’re really big on phone tracking over here at Digital Reach, and it was something that we wanted to get right from day one back when not a lot of agencies did it well. I really liked her piece, because it outlines a typical conversation that we frequently have with our clients regarding the value of phone tracking.
Measuring phone calls doesn’t have to be an exact science. In fact, it may never be. However, with the right educated guessing, you can be perfectly imperfect. The basic question that needs to be answered is: what is any given phone call worth to you? The fact that some portion of your phone calls are junk does not prohibit you from finding that figure. If a legitimate inquiry is worth $100, and 30% of all calls are legitimate inquiries, then any given call is worth $30. It’s $30 no matter how outrageous the other calls are. Of course, you could go through each call individually to evaluate their performance, but doing it all in aggregate is just fine for ROI purposes.
The limiting factor is that you have to know those general numbers. If you don’t know how many calls are legitimate, then you won’t be able to apply a fudge-factor to your tally. You also need to know what a good phone call is worth to you so you can determine what you are willing to pay for it.
The second piece is about the AdWords interface, by Robert Brady on Clix Marketing’s blog. I think he brings up a great point that isn’t often talked about in the PPC community, which is that for every bell and whistle that Google adds at our request, the interface becomes designed more and more for… the PPC community. Probably the biggest complaint that I get about AdWords from clients is that it’s gone from a 15-minutes-a-day hobby to almost a full-time job.
Our Head of Operations has often said that AdWords is easy to do, but difficult to do well. Guess which side Google’s sales reps emphasize?
However, I think Google is recognizing that the smaller advertisers who aren’t seasoned pros, or at least employing one, are basically bringing a knife to a gun fight. They know it’s not easy anymore, and that people that throw some cash on AdWords and see it light it on fire probably aren’t coming back. Even if it took the emergence of so many other options for small business owners to force Google’s hand on the issue, I certainly am interested in where they go with it in the future.
What’s the solution here? Personally, I wonder if this is a short-term solution to making AdWords easy to use and profitable for Mr. Small Business Owner to run himself. Past warning people when they sign up for AdWords that maybe they should think about it twice (and really, what company can be expected to do that), the only solution I see is two-fold: louder notifications that focus on ROI, and in-house optimizations that are more responsible.
Lastly, Ross Koon writes about the importance of using microconversions to get a complete look at your PPC success over at Rimm Kaufmann. These are smaller conversions that often don’t result in immidiate cash-in-hand for the business (think brochure download or video play), but do have some knowable value. Is the value of these microconversions enough to be shrugged off? Possibly. However, if you’re looking at measuring the full value of your advertising, then they can’t be ignored.
This is a topic that one of our favorite bloggers, Avinash Kaushik, has been banging the drum about for years both as a reason to justify your marketing spend and for “optimal awesomeness.” In our experience, most companies are only tracking one metric in their online marketing. Oftentimes, it arises from the same line of too-concrete thinking that leads to the same issues Theresa laid out in the call tracking article from above.
The more we are able to track marketing efforts, the more we are learning that the consumer doesn’t just pull a simple yes/no switch. Customers go through different processes, often called funnels, and it is important to figure out your conversion processes so you can optimize the funnel.
Is your website currently tracking anything unusual as a microconversion? Are you tracking your phone calls?