Thirteen months ago we sat in a meeting and discussed what Google would do in relation to call tracking.
We believed Google would eventually offer call tracking for AdWords, and this morning, they did. In that meeting there was no fear about Google’s move into call tracking. Instead we determined we were on the right course with Conversation Analytics.
The future of call tracking isn’t call tracking…it’s call analysis.
But, because today is the day that Google officially announced their call tracking intentions, let’s discuss it.
Essentially Google is now offering call tracking for AdWords. Let’s be clear about that. Google now offers call tracking. And in consequence of the announcement many across the web are, quite laughably, heralding the death of the call tracking industry. Here are some quotes from Twitter this morning:
“Did several call tracking companies just die before our eyes?”
“What does this mean for the call tracking industry?”
“How will call tracking providers respond?”
The entire marketing world is wondering: what will become of call tracking now? In this blog post we’re going to delve into exactly what Google is going to do and why we’re not all going to die.
In short: the reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated.
Google is now offering onsite call tracking for AdWords. From their blog:
Let’s say your Google search ads send people to your website where they research and learn more about your business. Website call conversions dynamically inserts a Google forwarding number on your website that measures the calls made by these customers. Whether they click on the number or dial it directly from their phone, you can attribute the call conversion and conversion value back to the keyword and ad that drove the customer.
They are offering call tracking to AdWords users. Now, some thoughts on what it means…
With one announcement, Google just legitimized an entire industry. Call tracking has long been the redheaded stepchild (no offense to actual redheaded stepchildren) of the marketing analytics world. No longer. Call tracking matters. It matters a lot.
Google’s announcement is generating substantial buzz about our industry. We’re thrilled about it. It’s not everyday that the entire marketing world is focused on call tracking. Today, they are.
Google is now a competitor in one area of the call tracking space. But this fact does not doom all call tracking providers. It just doesn’t. Google has competitors in various industries that do just fine. For example, Kissmetrics and Adobe offer powerful analytics tools that are, generally, more expensive and better than Google Analytics. They do just fine.
In short: Google’s entrance into an industry does not doom that industry to Biblical-level destruction. In fact, it legitimizes an entire industry and adds credence to our market position.
Remember that Google is only providing call tracking for AdWords. Organic calls, calls from non-Google sources, and offline sources cannot be tracked by Google’s new ‘website call conversions’ product.
Also remember that Google has long offered call tracking for mobile campaigns. This mobile offering has not harmed call tracking companies in the least. In fact, most mobile PPC users utilize call tracking numbers from a vendor (like us) and then plug them in as an ad extension.
One of the most intelligent things I read on Twitter this morning was this:
“Call tracking companies will survive if they can track actual sales from calls.”
That’s why, 7 months ago, we launched Conversation Analytics. It is a tool that analyzes call conversations–literally the words and phrases said on phone calls–to determine what happened on the call. It extracts data like conversions, appointment set, sale made, reservation made, lead score, missed opportunity, and even agent sales performance. It does all this automatically by listening to the words and phrases said on the call. It can tell what happened on the call.
Conversation Analytics is a speech recognition system on top of which we have layered hundreds of thousands of proprietary algorithms. These algorithms pick through the phone calls and extract every bit of useful data. We can literally pull out hundreds of pieces of data.
Long story short: call tracking isn’t our game anyway. We’ve known for a LONG time that call conversations are where the gold is located. The data found within calls themselves is incredibly valuable. Strictly speaking: we are no longer a call tracking company, we’re a Conversation Analytics company that happens to offer call tracking.
And this isn’t a new development. Eleven months ago we wrote an article in Search Engine Journal titled: Is Call Tracking Dead? It discussed the limited amount of data available to marketers with standard call tracking compared with the treasure trove of data available with Conversation Analytics. And our message hasn’t changed since then. Last week we presented a webinar hosted by Search Engine Land and Digital Marketing Depot entitled: Why Call Tracking is No Longer Relevant.
The entire industry is following our lead to care less about call tracking and more about call analysis. In the last 4 weeks alone, 4 different call tracking companies have announced variations of a tool they are calling ‘keyword spotting.’ They also use speech recognition technology to analyze calls, but instead of providing data like lead score, whether or not there was an appointment set, etc., they allow customers to search calls for 5-10 keywords.
These ‘keyword spotting’ technologies are not as robust as Conversation Analytics, but they’re a start.
The thing to note here is that the entire industry now recognizes that call tracking is not the end-all-be-all.
This is kind of funny.
Remember when local marketers and SEOers were advising their clients not to use call tracking because it hurt SEO? Yeah, that’s funny. We refuted their claims in a 33-page treatise entitled: The Authoritative Guide to Call Tracking and Local SEO. There was much tumult about the issue. Some insisted that call tracking hurt SEO.
Well…considering Google is now offering call tracking using the exact same method everyone else does…it’s safe to say that debate will die. (Too bad we wasted all this time writing the report).
As we said at the beginning of this post, we’ve known Google was going to do this for while. The CEO of Acquisio predicted this 6 months ago. We talked about it internally 13 months ago. We just didn’t know exactly when. It’s not like we’re stunned.
To say that we’re scared is silly. Conversation Analytics is our focus, it is our future. We’ve already started to turn our back on traditional call tracking (which is all Google came out with today). The future is call analysis. That’s what we’re doing anyway.