July 2013 -
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Archive for July, 2013

Tracking Phone Conversions

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in Tracking Phone Calls, Uncategorized

Monday, July 15th, 2013


I believe in the old adage of “Measure and it shall improve.” We get pretty excited around here when we see new ways to improve the measurement of marketing processes. While tracking phone calls has been around for generations, the technology of phone systems and the internet are rapidly evolving. We recently installed a fully integrated system for tracking our phone conversions and we are now working with clients to help them with this process as well.

Phones in many businesses can be the majority of the value created so leaving them untracked is just wrong. As an example I have an Adwords coaching client that has very refined tracking of his phone calls. He knows that for every form that is filled out on his website 8 phone calls are made. This means his cost per lead in Adwords is overstated by almost 8 times the real cost.

History of Phone Tracking

Phone tracking has been around for a very long time. Connecting calls to marketing investments started about the time someone thought of asking “How did you hear about us?” My guess is that was probably shortly after Alexander Graham Bell said; “Watson, come here! I want to see you!” Fast forward 137 years to radically changed systems that allows us to link advertising directly to a phone call.

Today’s Technology

Today’s technology varies in implementation, but it allows us to dynamically change the phone number given to the visitor on a website based on the source of the traffic. In our implementation we separated the paid and organic traffic from all other sources. You can take this concept even farther if you wish. As the complexity increases so do the costs, but at the most basic level I think every business should track paid traffic separately from other sources. It is very possible to break inbound calls down by campaign, ad group, or keyword although I have to question the value of this. Just because you can technically do it does not mean it makes good business sense to invest the time and money to make that happen. For most small businesses simply knowing the real ROI of your marketing investment is enough for the first generation of this technology.

Implementing Phone Tracking

What happens in this process is that you insert a snippet of code into the webpage and that sets the phone number based on the source of the traffic. The phone call then routes through the service and in our set up it whispers through the phone the word “paid” or “organic” based on the source of the traffic. This allows us to know how the caller got our number and what site they were looking at. We have an industry specific site for Plumbers because they are a big segment of our business, so when a call comes from that website the whisper word is “plumber” or “plumber paid.”

Connecting Phone Calls to Analytics

The phone system also integrates with Google Analytics using virtual pages. A virtual page is one that does not physically exist but is written into Analytics based on an event happening. In this case it writes a virtual page connected to the event of dialing the phone! The Universal version has a concept of a historical path in the data and can connect to prior sessions. This would allow us to see that a person arrived via an ad, read a few pages, came back as direct traffic, then as organic traffic, and then called us. This technology has lots of ways that it can be broken, like the use of another device, but it is evolving quickly and getting better with each generation. Since Analytics can be tied back to AdWords using goals triggered by these virtual pages we can get conversions in AdWords caused by a phone call event.

Phone Call Reporting

The tracking and reporting system allows us to go back and look at the summary of calls and their sources. If we chose to record the calls we can even listen to them as part of this reporting. This can help in the creation of a phone training program. There are many values you can get from these systems.

Phone Tracking System Costs

If you consider a phone call to be an event of value to your business then measuring it should be something you consider. The basic cost of the system we implemented is $75 a month and includes 1,000 minutes. The amount of minutes included in the plan is something to watch out for. In our investigation we found other services that looked cheaper but they either had no minutes or very few so if you had even a modest flow of calls they ended up costing more. The other variable to watch is the cost per line and the number of included lines.
The main point here is that the more we know the smarter we can be in the decisions we make. Leaving a large portion of the conversions untracked can result in erroneous decisions being made by the marketing team.

Enhanced Campaigns are coming to Your AdWords Account

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords expert

Monday, July 15th, 2013


You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why… because Enhanced Campaigns are coming to town.  While Santa Claus isn’t coming to town early, Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns are and they could be a lump of coal for some and a shiny new bike for others. Google has officially announced that Enhanced campaign conversions will automatically begin on July 22. What this means is that you’re about to enter a period where you need to pay extra special attention to the details in your AdWords account. This needs to be done to ensure that Google is not setting your wallet on fire and that you continue to receive the best possible performance out of your account.

Mobile Traffic

If you have seen that website visitors arriving through desktops & laptops are more likely to become customers than people who view your page on a mobile device, you need to pay extra special attention. In Enhanced Campaigns, all advertisers are automatically opted-in to having their ads show for mobile devices. If you have mobile traffic off you will need to reset this and it is a very different process.

From your account page, you will want to go to the settings tab then the sub-tab for Devices. Under that you can set the bid to a -100% for mobile devices effectively bidding zero for mobile traffic.

Bid Adjustments are the big area of change and if you fully deploy this you will need a calculator handy to figure out your bids. There is a matrix with percentage adjustments in the schedule, device types, and geographic locations. This is incredibly powerful but it can also be complex unless you are used to expressing your strategy in matrixes.  Add to this process the scripting automation and you can see that Google AdWords at its upper level is an advanced programming language. For example:

Modifier Type Bid
Base Bid $2.00
Schedule 2.40 +20%
Location 2.64 +10%
Device 2.50 -5%


Our staff attended all the training on this topic but as we know Google is a master at partial information so nobody knows yet the exact order of math. The new bidding options could be applied in order which could make our example range from the $2.64 down to $2.60. Figuring out Google’s new bidding order of operations is going to take experience with the system because so far Google is not talking.

Schedule Modifiers

This modifier has been around for years but the process of applying it is different. Many clients have a pattern to their week with certain hours being better than others. This modifier allows you to adjust for that. For example many businesses in the trades see a peak time Monday morning from 8am -10:30. Some of us believe this is the “Honey Do” effect where the customer is encouraged to call the service after the weekend is over. This makes that time period very responsive and many businesses like to increase their bids during that time.  Schedule modifiers have been in the system for a very long time and the new items of Location and Device appear to be based on that model.

Location Modifier

This is a new modifier and for every geo-target in the campaign, you can adjust your bids by the modifier. This should be useful for local service businesses that have a better response from certain cities and they are willing to pay more or less than their base bid. We often have had requests to target high income cities above others. This lets you do that.

Device Modifier

While the system has allowed us to turn on or off certain types of traffic previously, the enhanced campaigns take device modifications to the bid adjustment level for mobile traffic only. For those that really understand what is going on here this is a real problem because you can only adjust Desktop and Tablet in the bid but the mobile is in the modifier. We tend to think this is Google making sure that the house always wins. There are several very negative comments about the lack of this control on the other channels.

Call Extensions

Another new feature being updated (with a catch) is call extensions. There are two options; the first is to have your actual phone number featured. This sounds good, right? That is until you get into the detail and see that none of the phone reporting features are available with the usage of your own phone number.

To get any of the call reporting features activated, Google makes advertisers opt-in to Google Voice which happens to display an automatically generated (i.e. not your listed) phone number on your ad.  For call extensions, businesses are placed at a dilemma. Either they can have their actual phone number show but not get any further input on the quality of the calls or they can get access to this data but have people see a randomly generated number to reach your business.

With the upcoming Enhanced campaigns feature, there are some things Google is introducing that can help improve account performance, if you know how to properly use them. However, you will also need to be more careful to ensure that the new Enhanced campaigns feature does not end up setting your wallet on fire especially if mobile is not a good performer for your business.