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Why Click-to-Call is a Flawed Metric

August 13, 2019

Click-to-call campaigns are everywhere. Your dealership is likely running several now. As such, you’re familiar with Google reports that show your click-to-call rate and cost-per-click. You likely base some of your future ad spend on these metrics. But what if I told you this is flawed data that doesn’t accurately reflect what makes your phones ring?

The fact is, there is a discrepancy between the “clicks” Google reports and actual real-life phone calls. The discrepancy is due to the mechanics of how click-to-call works. When you tap a click-to-call button, you are not instantly making a call. The number will show up on your mobile phone screen, but you have to tap again to connect the call. Between those two steps is where the discrepancy in reporting comes into play. 

Take an example from the online advertising agency StubGroup. Over a three-month period, the agency compared the number of clicks from campaigns for a wide range of client accounts to the number of phone calls Google tracked from each campaign.

It found there were 18% more clicks than calls from click-to-call campaigns. That's a significant discrepancy! Not only does that throw off conversion rates by 18%, but it also means the clients' actual average cost-per-call was 18% higher than Google metrics reported.

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It’s also important to note that just because the phone rang, it doesn’t mean it was in response to that advertisement. Ads placed for variable ops still generate as much as 80% call rate for fixed ops. That means if the dealer is using click-to-call in calculating ad ROI, this data becomes unreliable, and each of those calls needs to be listened to in order to see the actual return.  

Of course, I’m not suggesting you abandon click-to-call campaigns. Far from it. What needs to change is how you measure the effectiveness of those campaigns. Instead of focusing on the number of clicks and cost-per-click, the metric that matters are real-live phone calls.

How do you measure this metric? The most effective way is with Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI). A DNI solution assigns every individual accessing your webpage a unique phone number, so you know the exact online path the consumer followed to find you. The best part is that DNI can be funneled through Google Analytics, so it's easy to track and review the results.

DNI reports actual phone calls and where they originated so you know which campaigns are delivering real phone-calls, not just clicks. This information is invaluable when it comes to planning. You can confidently shift ad spend to campaigns that trigger phone calls, and away from those that don’t.

Budget decisions should be made on sound metrics. You should set up tracking numbers and consider implementing a DNI solution so you can attribute every phone call to its original lead source. If you don’t, you may be throwing money away on campaigns that look good in Google Analytics but rarely make your phones ring.


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