Using Google Voice To Track Performance of Online Ads
At Blue Frog Gaming we spend a lot of time on metrics. One of the unique aspects of high-volume online businesses is that you have access to a wealth of data and ways to use it that a lot of traditional offline establishments don’t.
One of the best examples is the ability to track your advertising spend. John Wanamaker famously once said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” He obviously wasn’t making websites. Giving customers who view ads a special URL, then using that to set a flag in the database and make special reports detailing exactly how much Revenue Per User (RPU) one gets is de rigueur online. You’d be hard pressed to find any web-based business spending more than $10 a day in ads that doesn’t know how much revenue they’re generating with that money to the cent.
But what about offline businesses who advertise online while doing all of their sales from a brick and mortar establishment? I was recently talking to the ad director of a local chain of tire shops who mentioned that they need to find ways of tracking the customers who click through their ads and end up buying tires from the store.
Customers who come in via email or the contact form on the web aren’t too hard. You’d simply track them up through the point of contact the same way any online business would, then make sure whoever handles them in store puts the appropriate flag in the user system. But what about the surprisingly large number of people who still make their first contact the old fashioned way, via telephone?
That’s where Google Voice comes in. Google Voice (formerly Grand Central, which I was an early user of) allows anyone to get a second phone number which forwards to their original one. It has great built in message handling and call tracking, which would help an offline business track customers through that portion of the sales funnel.
Here’s how it would work:
Bob’s Tire Shack gets one Google Voice number for each of their stores. Bob purchases Facebook ads pointing to a special URL which then stores a session variable indicating that the user came from a Facebook ad. When a user clicks through to the contact page, it gives them the Google Voice number, given only to customers who came to the website through the special URL, rather than the store’s normal number.
When someone calls to set up an appointment Bob can then tell which number they called, and therefore whether or not they came from a Facebook ad. It will be much more accurate than simply asking people “how did you hear about us?”.
This could work across a variety of channels simply by getting different numbers, which Google sells fairly cheaply.