Call tracking for marketing using a virtual phone system

Call tracking for marketing using local phone numbers in a virtual phone system.
There was a time, not too long ago, when a phone call was the most common way a customer would contact your business. It’s true, a customer would actually pick up their landline phone and dial your number. Of course, back then call tracking wasn’t available to small businesses.

Then came the internet and customer contacts shifted to email and website forms. Web-based contacts are convenient for businesses because they are easy to manage and track—everything is digital.

When our phones moved to the web with voice over IP (VOIP) and virtual phone systems, phone calls came back in style, except now they were digital, too. Being digital, calls to a virtual phone number are easy to count and track, and so now call tracking could be available to any small business.

What is call tracking?

Call tracking is the process of determining how callers found your business by analyzing incoming calls. In its basic form, call tracking identifies the phone number called, the phone number of the caller, the caller ID, the geographical location of the caller, the time and duration of the call, and potentially a recording of the call.

How is call tracking used?

Call tracking is used by businesses to identify which marketing and advertising campaigns are generating inbound phone calls. Using multiple virtual phone numbers, a unique tracking number is assigned to each marketing campaign the business runs. When a call comes in, the business knows which campaign created that opportunity.

Who uses call tracking?

Call tracking is primarily used by marketers and advertisers to gather call data on the performance of their campaigns.

Is any personal information tracked?
Basic information about the call, such as date, time, and duration is certainly tracked. Public information about the caller is most often tracked, such as their phone number, caller ID, and the city and state location of the call. Private information such as a recording of the call may also be tracked and analyzed, though you should be notified of this during the call.

All this call data will be saved in a contact relationship manager (CRM) that is connected to the phone system. The BellesLink case manager CRM saves call data this way.

Should my business track calls?
Any business who markets and advertises its products and services should track their inbound calls in order to understand the ROI of its marketing and create a better call impression for its customers.

What are the types of tracking?

There are two main categories of call tracking, offline and online. Offline means tracking calls coming in from direct mail, signs, and print advertising. Online means tracking calls coming from webpages and digital ads like the ones you see in search engines and social media.

To set up and manage the multiple phone numbers used you’ll need to use a virtual phone system, such as Ring Central or Grasshopper. BellesLink is also a virtual phone system. Not all systems can track both online and offline campaign numbers, so evaluate your needs.

For many of the professional service businesses we work with, offline call tracking is the most important piece of the puzzle. Online campaigns typically lead to webpage visits or form completions which are trackable in other ways. In offline campaigns, the call to action for the customer is often “call us at…” and increasingly “text us at…”. Both of which are only measured with call tracking.

What do I need to set up marketing call tracking in my business?

Call tracking for marketing element icons

At BellesLink the majority of our customers are professional service businesses, such as real estate investors, who want to track their inbound calls from offline campaigns.

Our customers most often want to set up a direct-to-voicemail number that delivers a whisper message instead of a live-answer number. (More on this later in the post.) So I’ll walk through what you need to set up in order to handle that scenario.

You will need:

  1. A virtual phone system that allows you to set up multiple local or toll free numbers, each with its own greeting, whisper, and voicemail messages. The BellesLink phone system allows you to do this.
  2. A tracking number: a local or toll-free phone number with an appropriate caller ID added to your system
    Professionally recorded, or self-recorded, messages for a whisper greeting and a voicemail greeting.
  3. Your marketing campaign where your local number will be used. This could be direct mail, a print ad. or even your business card.

Let’s look individually at each of pieces you need to start using marketing call tracking.

1-A Virtual Phone System

A virtual phone system is the modern version of the old office desk phone. Today these are cloud-based web applications you can use to make and receive calls and texts on multiple phone numbers. Typically you can use these systems from both a web browser and a mobile app. Examples include Ring Central, Grasshopper, and BellesLink.

The essential elements in a phone system are:

  • Local and toll-free numbers
  • Customizable set up for each number including: caller ID, greeting messages, call routing and extensions, caller inputs, and scheduled call forwarding.
  • Call tracking tools

2-Tracking Numbers – Local or Toll-free

Many real estate investors run marketing campaigns that target particular neighborhoods. They will set up a unique tracking number for each neighborhood. When a call comes in they know, by the number, which neighborhood campaign the call is from. The number of calls from each neighborhood gives them a measure of each campaigns success.

This is the most basic way tracking phone numbers are used in marketing and this model can be applied to any business. Toll-free numbers can be used the same way.

3-Recorded Messages

In our scenario we’re setting up a direct-to-voicemail tracking number, the call will not be answered live. So the recorded messages used in the number set up will do all the work of converting the caller into a lead. This is why we recommend recording your messages professionally, the quality is important. There are numerous affordable services to have your messages recorded. We recommend

A Whisper Message

The first thing a caller hears when our direct-to-voicemail number answers is a whisper message. It’s a message that identifies the business and greets the caller, but it can also do much more. A whisper message can deliver information that supports the marketing campaign connected to that tracking number.

For instance, a real estate investor might create a message that says, “Hi. Thanks for calling Ace Real Estate. We are specialists in the [campaign] neighborhood. We buy houses in any condition for cash and can close a sale in 30 days. We have lots of buyers interested in homes in the [campaign] neighborhood. If you’re thinking about selling your home please leave a detailed message with your… .”

Because you know the reason a person is calling that tracking number, you can be very specific with the information you provide, giving you the best chance of turning the caller into a lead. That’s the beauty of a whisper message.

A Voicemail Greeting

At the end of the whisper message the caller will be asked to leave a voicemail. This voicemail greeting should be friendly and professional, be in-sync with the marketing campaign, and set the callers expectation for a return call.

Continuing our real estate example, the voicemail greeting might say, “Hi. This is Mike with Ace Real Estate. I’d love to talk with you about a home you’d like to sell or buy in the [campaign] neighborhood. Please leave me a message with your name, number, and address, and I will return your call within 24 hrs. I look forward to talking with you.”

If the person who will return the call is the person on the voicemail message, then don’t use a professional service, they should record it themselves. BellesLink, like other phone systems, has an easy way for you to record custom messages yourself.

4-Your Marketing Campaign

The places you use your tracking numbers don’t have to be grand marketing campaigns. They can be simple things, such as a direct-mail postcard or even your business card. I attend a lot of business events so the phone number on my business card is a tracking number. If someone calls that number, I know it’s someone I’ve already met at an event. That little bit of information helps me make the most of the call when I answer it.

The same is true for any phone tracking number you use. The number will tell you why someone is calling, the caller ID in your virtual phone system will tell you who is calling. When you know who is calling your business and why it gives you a chance to make a better call impression.

Making a Good Call Impression

A “call impression” is how we describe a customer’s reaction to calling your business and campaign tracking number. It’s made up of their inbound call, your whisper message, and your recorded voicemail greeting. It includes everything a customer sees and hears from you, from your marketing to your call-back. The success of each part depends on the one before it.

At BellesLink we believe call tracking helps you make a good call impression because you can set up your direct-to-voicemail numbers to be in-sync with your marketing, you can script your messages to be friendly, professional, and deliver valuable information to the caller that encourages them to leave a message and become a warm lead. You can do all the things that are sometimes difficult to do on a live-answer call when you need more polished salesmanship.

To Create a Good Call Impression:

  1. Use a phone number that’s local for your campaign.
  2. Create a whisper message and voicemail greeting that is in-sync with your marketing campaign message.
  3. Be clear, friendly, and professional.
  4. Provide the caller with valuable information about your service before you ask them to leave a voicemail.
  5. Set an expectation for your call-back and meet it.

Call Tracking is Easy and Good for Your Business

As I wrote earlier, any business who markets and advertises its products and services should track their inbound calls to understand the performance of their marketing and create a better call impression for their customers. It’s easy to do and only requires a small amount of planning and set up.

The key component of call tracking is a virtual phone system, so that’s the place to start. There are several good services you can choose. For businesses that use people search to lookup phone numbers of customers they want to cold-call and also want to use call tracking for inbound calls, BellesLink is a great choice.

As we’ve all become tired and overwhelmed by the non-stop digital conversations in social media, instant messages, and text, we’re seeing a trend back to simple phone calls. People still like to talk to each other, that’s a good thing.