We are entering a new era in search engine marketing, where it's not just about how many people make it to your Web site, but whether or not they take action once they're there. Are they buying directly from your site? Are they calling your business to make an appointment? Are they sending information to their cell phones for later use?
One emerging trend is investment in services that drive and track phone leads directly from online search engine and directory listings, rather than click-throughs to a business's Web site. Local and national enterprises across industries are viewing this as a powerful way to get leads that are more qualified, while avoiding paying for fraudulent click-throughs to a Web site or landing page -- a growing problem.
According to the Kelsey Group, a leading market research firm in the local search and directory space, "One antidote to the real or perceived problem of click fraud is to move from a click-based billing model to a cost-per-lead or cost-per-action model."
By allowing companies to track phone calls back to exact keywords, call tracking technology facilitates a cost-per-lead model that delivers real-time leads to merchants in the form of phone calls, and creates a much more complete cost-per-lead analysis for online campaigns. Call tracking allows marketers to assign unique local or toll-free telephone numbers to individual ads or listings, and generate real-time reports on all call activity, record calls for quality assurance, and route calls dynamically to multiple locations.
Thanks to call tracking, marketers, publishers and advertisers benefit from a new level of accountability in both online and offline campaigns:
Another avenue for extending the utility of local search is offering customers the ability to save and share ad listing information in a variety of formats. Increasingly, publishers are offering SMS-based "send to phone" features that allow users to store online business listings to their mobile devices. However, a number of technologies exist that offer consumers the choice of saving this information in a number of formats including SMS, email, address book, fax and social bookmarks. These technologies help in cases where there's a latency in conversion, because even if the consumer chooses not to act immediately, they have the ability to save your information in their preferred format, and marketers can still track whether the consumer decides to call or not.
Search marketers have figured out one of the hardest parts of the equation, getting people to notice their offerings. However, once they've gotten people to take that first look, the majority of actions are not tracked. Leveraging tracking and monitoring technology that goes beyond tracking clicks will get marketers one step closer to not just getting credit for traffic, but for capturing quality leads.