Hear No Evil

10 Reasons Not to Track Phone Calls

by Andrew Miller on December 2, 2010

in Featured

In my day job, I find myself recommending and implementing call tracking solutions for a wider variety of clients than ever before.

But the more I bring it up, the more objections I hear. Some reasons are legit, others are pure ignorance. That’s not to say my clients are ignorant (quite the opposite, they ROCK) but sometimes their thought processes need a quick kick in the pants.

Here are the top 10 reasons I’ve heard NOT to track inbound phone calls. How many of these have you heard? Any I’m missing?

1. My customers only interact online and have no need to call my business

You’d be crazy not to have a phone number listed on your website. Some customers want to give you money but have a hard time checking out, signing up or finding a crucial detail on your site. Eventually they’ll give up and go somewhere else unless you make it easy for them to contact you for help.

2. I don’t think the extra investment in call tracking will yield any return

I have to call BS on this one! If you’re already spending money on PPC ads, SEO or other media, a small percentage invested in proper analysis of phone calls will make your paid campaigns much more efficient and more than pay for itself in no time.

3. I don’t get enough phone calls to justify the expense

This may be true if you only get a handful of calls each month. But don’t you want to get MORE phone calls? Even if you do it the old fashioned way with pen and paper, keep track of where your successful phone calls come from so you can focus your marketing efforts on those sources.

4. I already know how people find my phone number

Don’t bet money on a customer’s memory.

Where did your last 3 calls come from? A phone book ad you placed last year? A Google Maps search conducted this morning? A business card you traded with a stranger at a trade show last year? A direct mail piece you sent out last week? How can you be so sure?

5. I already know the outcome of all of my phone calls

Again, how can you really be sure? What about the calls that go to voicemail when you’re out to lunch or hang up during a long or confusing prompt system? Recording these calls can shed light on abandoned calls that could have turned into business.

6. I don’t have time to analyze the calls

If you only have time to listen to 10 calls per week, do it!

True, listening to hundreds of calls may not tip the work/life balance back in your favor but there are other ways to derive value from call logs. Many call tracking vendors offer automated or human-assisted voice transcription and data mining. If that’s not an option, commit to reviewing a sample of your calls. The qualitative insights you gain will be well worth the time.

7. Web analytics already tell me how many conversions I’m getting

Sure, any web analytics tool can report back to you on click-based conversions, leads, downloads and sales. But the moment a website visitor picks up the phone to call you, that conversion is not counted in your ROI calculations. You could be missing 50-75% of your leads when deciding how to allocate your marketing budgets.

8. I just want the phone to ring, all phone calls are created equal

Not so fast. Some of your marketing efforts could be generating a disproportionate number of customer service or unsolicited sales calls. These calls are less likely to result in new customers so you’d want to know this when comparing ROI across multiple traffic sources.

9. I don’t want to confuse people with different phone numbers

When they need you, they’ll find your number somehow.

This is probably the most common response I hear from hesitant businesses. I challenge them to recite the phone numbers of the last 3 businesses they called…or more than 5 people in their cell phone’s contact list. The point is, people don’t memorize phone numbers any more.

10. The people that answer my phones don’t care where calls come from

This is another common response, and I often recommend crafting a “whisper message” to help craft a more personalized response from your sales people. If the call came from a source promoting a special offer (i.e. a Facebook ad with a 10% off coupon), your sales people may be able to pick up some extra commissions by customizing their sales pitch to the offer and ad.

The Bottom Line

People are naturally resistant to change, especially when it might involve them having to do more work or wade through more data. But the problem is not that call tracking data are not valuable, it’s that the data are often not aligned with a client’s objectives or incentive structure. Find a way to package call tracking that helps them look good and you’ll soon gain their trust and hopefully their business!

(CC Photo Credit: Tim Ellis on Flickr)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Gretchen Nemechek December 2, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Another great post, Andrew!

These are indeed reasons we see as well and your post helps de-bunk these reasons. As many of our clients work through performance marketing networks to promote their businesses, we see a number of additional reasons why marketers “think” they don’t want to track calls or use phone numbers in their promotional efforts.

Here are a few, with our answers to why these concerns need not prohibit a business from getting started with call performance marketing:

1) We’ve tried pay-per-call before, but got some low-quality calls. We don’t want to flood our high-value sales agents with low-quality calls.

RingRevenue: Call performance marketing platforms (pay-per-call/call tracking) are designed to solve this challenge. By enabling advertisers to define exactly what constitutes a “high-quality” call, they can be sure they will only receive calls that meet their criteria. Sophisticated quality filtering capabilities allow our platform to only connect “high-quality” calls.

2) We don’t want to pay commissions for every call–only the good ones.

RingRevenue: Call performance marketing allows advertisers to set the price and what constitutes a commissionable call. When publishers sign up to promote an advertisers campaign, they see this criteria. Only the calls that meet the advertiser’s criteria are connected to the call center.

3) We already get plenty of calls. Why would we want to pay commissions to receive more?

RingRevenue: For most advertisers, calls convert into customers at a much higher rate than clicks. Making call-based campaigns available to publishers through performance marketing networks allows advertisers to achieve a much higher distribution and on a performance basis. When publishers can drive calls and clicks, they are able to send through a larger percentage of highly-qualified traffic resulting in a better ROI and higher sales for advertisers.

4) As a marketer, I am not in charge of the call center. I don’t want to deal with any call center integration or get my engineering team involved.

RingRevenue: The call tracking solutions available on the leading performance marketing networks (such as Commission Junction, Google Affiliate Network, LinkShare and ShareASale) do not require any call center integration. All of campaign management, number provisioning and analytics are directly available within the platform. No need to get engineering or the call center involved. They just need to be ready to answer the phone when the high-quality calls start to come in.

5) We manage some of our advertising through our performance marketing channel, but also do a lot of direct promotions. I don’t want to maintain multiple separate call tracking solutions.

RingRevenue: The call performance marketing solutions (pay-per-call) available through the performance marketing networks also allow for advertisers to set up and manage direct advertising. Obtaining unique trackable phone numbers, and managing all of the real-time analytics and campaign performance can easily be done from a single user interface.


Andrew Miller December 2, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Most of these reasons sound like excuses, not rational thoughts. Good to know we’re not the only ones running into this. :)

Most of these objections/pain points could be overcome by pitching call tracking/pay per call benefits to overlap the customer’s incentive structure (internal or external).


elan@ifbyphone December 3, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Andrew –

This is one of your best posts yet. Keep up the good work.
Here are 2 more reasons to add to your list:

1. “Each of my franchise locations already has its own phone number. If I use call tracking numbers to measure response rates to a national ad campaign, then I lose the ability to forward callers to the store in their area.”

If you select a Call Tracking solution that also provides control over Call Routing, you can measure response rates and still forward calls to the nearest franchise location.

2. “I don’t need a paid version Call Tracking, because Google AdWords provides Call Metrics.”

Google Call Metrics is a great free tool if all you want to do show phone numbers in your AdWords text ads. However, if you want to use Call Tracking numbers across Bing/Yahoo, Social Media sites, or offline advertising, if you want to track results to the keyword level, if you want that number to also appear on your website when a visitor clicks on the ad, or if you want complete control over how you forward the phone call, then it’s worth investing in a paid Call Tracking solution that demonstrates ROI.


Andrew Miller December 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the AdWords Call Metrics a paid feature at some point, possibly integrated with Google Analytics.


Stephen Cravens December 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Fantastic post, Andrew, and great responses from the call tracking community. I concur, plus would add that trying it out is completely risk-free. There are call tracking providers who offer the service completely pay-as-you go with no set up fees. We always say, spend 5% of your ad budget on call tracking to know that the other 95% is working. If the nature of your sales process consists of consulting, upselling, or “closing,” tracking calls is imperative.


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