Google has consolidated several awesome new tracking features into a single view in AdWords over the last week (some features have been there a while, but are now receiving more exposure due to a recent interface update) and we at Three Deep are in the process of putting several of these into action. The first thing that we will talk about today is the call tracking feature that they have recently added.

Ever since Google acquired Grand Central in 2007, I knew it was only a matter of time before they would start adding call tracking into AdWords.  For good reason, as phone calls to local or 1-800 numbers on a landing page can account for a large percentage of leads generated from a PPC landing page.¬† In fact, for some of our clients, phone calls have outnumbered free estimate request forms at a 2 to 1 clip.  Even for those clients where request forms still dominate leads, adding a unique tracking number to a landing page has allowed us to truly track the number of leads that we generate for clients.

Until now, we have always used a very robust business class call tracking technology that allows us to create and monitor thousands of tracking numbers from a single interface, all for a nominal fee per phone number tracked. These phone numbers have worked great for us, and with our call recording feature, we have been able to allow our clients the ability to listen to the phone calls generated by our program. This is a very revealing feature, and has proven to give great insights to our clients as to how their business is being run (as well as assign credit to PPC as the true lead generation source).

Leave it to Google to shake things up! Like they have done in several other markets, they took a service that is offered by several good companies, and given it away for free!  While Three Deep's service is relatively inexpensive, it does have a cost associated with it.

With Google's recent phone call tracking integration into Google AdWords, we are forced to evaluate whether our premium phone vendor will suffice now that we can receive a similar service for free. As a bonus, the results from the Google phone numbers are rolled into the Google AdWords conversion tracking feature; so we can consolidate conversions into one place, rather than pulling two reports together every month.

At this point, we are undecided on what to think about this new revelation, but we are sure of one thing; we will be trying this great new service in a small and tightly controlled environment and see if we like it better than our other call tracking vendor.  Once we weigh out the pros and cons, I'm guessing one service will clearly rise to the top.

Here is a quick list of pro's and cons for using Google's service:

Pro

  • Free!  25 numbers per account
  • Reporting may be better than other service
  • Consolidated reporting saves several hours a month
  • One interface to get a "quick view" of how our marketing is performing

Cons

  • Only 25 numbers per account
  • Reporting may be worse than other service
  • Can't listen to recorded calls
  • User must log in to Google AdWords to view calls.¬† We don't give out AdWords logins generally.
  • Unsure of call append data (can we tie out a phone call to a sale?)
  • Giving even more control and data to Google (don't they have enough?)

I am planning to let this experiment run for 2-4 weeks to see how it compares to our current premium phone call tracking vendor.  I will report back in this space to let you know how it goes!

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