Evaluating and Choosing The Right Call Analytics Vendor

In our webinar ‘Choosing a Call Tracking Vendor’ we discussed research and evaluation methods that come in handy when choosing the right analytics vendor for your business.

During the webinar, we received a lot of great questions; so many in fact that we weren’t able to reach them all during the event. We’ve outlined all the questions and answers below, and provided our slides here for your review.

Key Points:

  • Find out if minute usage and features like implementation, spam prevention, and technical support are included in your base costs.
  • Ensure your call tracking vendor integrates with the technology that your team already uses or platforms that you may use in the future.
  • Ask what the process of moving your phone numbers from one provider to another involves. How long does the process take and are there additional fees?
  • Use objective resources like G2 Crowd to see what users say about each call tracking vendor.


Erica Hawkins: All right, let’s get started. If you just got here, we are really excited to have you guys on the call today. The topic of our webinar is: Your 4 Step Guide to Choosing a Call Tracking Vendor. We’re going to be going over ways that you can evaluate and choose the right analytics vendor for your business.

My name is Erica Hawkins. I’m the Content Marketing Manager here at CallRail and I’m really excited about this topic because I’ve written a few case studies and blog posts and even Whitepapers surrounding this theme which is: How do you go in and evaluate call tracking vendors, compare them and figure out which one is best for you? We want to take a step back and give a really unbiased look at what features might be good for your business and what features analytics providers might offer that are going to make you want to actually signup with them and become a customer. I’ll throw it over to Ashley and she’s going to introduce herself as well.

Ashley Coleman: Good afternoon everyone. I’m Ashley Coleman, the Demand Generation Manager here at CallRail and, as Erica mentioned, we’re really excited to talk to you guys about this topic today. Given the nature of my specific job, I have the pleasure of spending a fair amount of time with the sales team here, which has really allowed me to overhear conversations with prospects that have given me some great insight into things like what questions people have when they first start researching call tracking, or what special considerations need to be taken into account based on specific business needs. Our hope is that after this presentation today you’ll feel armed in coming to the call analytics table, which means you’ll be equipped to ask the right questions and ultimately to make an informed decision when choosing your call analytics provider.

Erica Hawkins: Excellent. Before we get into the four steps in our guide to call analytics, we want to take a step back and explain why we think this conversation is even worth having. Why are data-driven marketers so interested in call analytics right now? We pulled this stat from BIA/Kelsey, and what it says is that currently, 93 billion calls are being driven to businesses from all mobile ads and online and that number is going to rise to 160 billion by 2019. That’s exciting because phone calls are high converting leads.

The issue people run into, though, is how to see what channels are actually driving these leads via phone calls to their business. Call analytics allows you to alleviate that blind spot and actually look and see what marketing channels are driving these phone calls. There’s that attribution angle that you really need if you want to effectively run marketing campaigns. On the other side of that, there’s call recording that call analytics provides, which allows you to actually qualify these leads and see how they’re being handled on the phone and if they’re converting to customers. That’s why it’s so important to marketers that are using things like, click to call, PPC campaigns with phone calls, or using landing pages with a phone number on them to use call analytics to attribute these leads back to the channel that drove them.

4 Step Guide to Choosing a Call Tracking Vendor

There are four topics we want to go over today. The first one is prepare. That’s what you should have ready when you get on the phone with a call analytics provider and what you should ask once you get on that phone call. The second is identify, and these are the features that you’re going to want and need when you’re looking for a call analytics provider. The third is personalizing your approach. That’s personalizing your call analytics research approach to your specific business and your specific business’s needs. The fourth is investigate. What third party resources can you look at or research to see how that call analytics company is being spoken about outside of the company to view how customers are basically reviewing and interacting with that company.

  • Prepare for the call & know what you want to track
  • Identify what call features you’re looking for
  • Understand & personalize how call tracking fits into your martech stack
  • Research your call tracking vendors thoroughly

1. Prepare for the call & know what you want to track

The first is what to prepare before you get on the phone. This is really important. We’ve talked to our sales team about this, and they get excited because people are calling that want call analytics, but they run into this wall where they don’t know exactly what features they need or how they want to use call analytics. This is going to help you. This little cheat sheet should help you be prepared when you’re getting on the phone with an analytics provider.

The first thing you want to figure out is what you want to track. That might vary from online campaigns to offline campaigns. If you’re tracking something along the lines of a print or radio advertisement, you want to make sure that you’re choosing an offline campaign option and let the sales person know that’s what you want to track. You might also be tracking an online advertisement like a pay-per-click campaign or an organic search campaign or looking at landing pages that you have phone numbers connected to. If you are tracking an online campaign, the next thing that you’re going to need to be able to tell the person you’re on the phone with is how many website visitors you have. This is extremely important if you would like to do keyword level call tracking. That’s because each individual visitor to your website is going to be given a specific phone number and the only way to do that accurately is to tell the person how many website visitors you have so that the keyword that is connected to that phone call will be able to show up in your dashboard and you’ll be able to optimize your campaigns based on those keywords and put your ad spend where it’s actually working.

The next thing you want to figure out is the type of phone number you want to have. Is that going to be a local phone number? Is it going to be a toll free phone number? Or, if you’re already using your phone number in other campaigns, or online, or in print advertisements that you already have, do you want that phone number to come with you? Do you want to import in your own phone number? Make sure you know how much that will cost and if it’s possible for that company to do that for you.

Once you get on the phone and you’re prepared, you’re going to want to ask these three questions. We have, obviously, specific questions that we would ask if we were talking about our business that you might not ask when it comes to your business, but these are three that we thought are extremely important when it comes to call analytics. The first one is: What is included in the base package and what’s considered an add-on feature? This is really important because you need to know if you’re being charged for call volume, if you’re being charged for each individual phone number and how much more that is a month. Also, if you’re looking for certain features and integrations, make sure that you know if they come standard or if they come as add-ons. It’s extremely important to be straightforward with your interest in that with the person you’re speaking to so you don’t end up running an analytics campaign and being surprised at the end of the month about how much it costs. It’s great when a company has that information on their website, but if you want to talk to them directly make sure that you’re very clear on how much features cost.

The next thing you want to know is if they have tools in place to protect your business if your business shares sensitive information over the phone. We have clients that range from law offices to dental practices and healthcare facilities that do share sensitive information over the phone and want to protect their clients and want to make sure that information isn’t being shared. They want to run marketing campaigns, but they don’t want to do that at the cost of someone’s personal information. You want to ensure that that company offers things like call tracking that’s compliant with HIPAA, or has certain measures in place to make sure that the people that are on the phone are being protected and their sensitive information is being protected.

The third thing that is really important is making sure that they have something in place to prevent call spam. Not only that, but going a step further and seeing what they have in place to do that. What’s the tool that they have? Do they work with another party to make sure that these phone numbers are clean and that they’re not being used in other campaigns? It’s very important that you not only know that they have something in place to prevent call spam, but that you understand the tool being used and feel comfortable using it for your specific company.

Once you’ve had that phone call, it’s really important to do the research of figuring out what features you want and what features you need. Here are a few features that we think are beneficial to marketers and that they definitely need in a call analytics provider. The first thing is a free trial. Being able to get started on your own without having to speak to someone directly and being able to try it out before entering your credit card information is extremely important if you want to test it out and make sure that that service is right for you. Making sure that the interface is intuitive, making sure that they have all the tools and features that you need is super easy to do when you have a free trial and can test it for yourself. The next thing is a quick and easy set up. Do they have structures in place that allow you to start call tracking almost immediately? WordPress plugins for call tracking are great because it allows you to set up the plugin and then you have those numbers showing up automatically without having to speak to an engineer or somebody on your development team to make sure that’s happening for you. You want an intuitive set up so you can start call tracking as soon as possible.

Another beneficial element is not having to be under a contractual agreement. As marketers, we have seasonal campaigns sometimes so it really makes it easier to feel comfortable running a campaign knowing that you’re not under an exclusive contract with someone, that you can actually use call tracking without any pressure to stay with one provider. The next big one, like I mentioned before in the first slide about the stat from BIA/Kelsey, is call recording. Call tracking is great for attribution, it’s amazing, but without call recording there’s no way to qualify these leads and make sure that you’re getting the type of calls you want and that those people are actually becoming customers. Call recording is crucial for a successful call analytics campaign.

The next thing is dynamic number insertion. Really important because it’s what’s going to allow you to run online campaigns and do them at the keyword level and give you that detailed keyword data that you want. It’s also going to make it so that if you have issues and you’re worried about local search, like NAP consistency, that you’re only showing a number to certain visitors.

2. Identify what call features you’re looking for

The next thing is features you’ll want. These are features that are super beneficial, but aren’t those basic features that you’re going to be seeing across the board for analytics companies. The first one is instant notifications. If you’re in front of your computer, or you’re even on the go, you want to be notified when someone calls your business or calls from a specific call tracking campaign. Those instant notifications can be set up via text or over email or even as a popup on your screen, but it’s great to know immediately when you’re receiving a call. To go back on that as well is outbound tracking for quick lead response time. If you’re getting that notification and you’ve got a call coming in from a specific ad campaign, you can click a button or, if you’re on your phone and you receive that notification you can immediately call the lead back. Lead response time is so important so and you’re going to be able to convert people faster if you respond to them quicker. You want to be able to easily call someone back. The great thing about outbound call tracking is that those calls are going to show up in your dashboard as well. Not only what calls you received, but when those calls were actually responded to. You can see how your team is responding to leads.

In depth caller information is also very important. Being able to see when a caller came in, who that caller was, their caller ID information, even where they called from is really huge. It helps you to have context when you’re on the call with someone not only knowing exactly what campaign drove them, but who they are, even seeing what their business name is, is going to help you speak to them directly, figure out their needs better, and more likely convert into a customer.

he last one a want to talk about is multi-channel attribution. If you’re a marketer that wants to see how each of your individual channels are working. This is key because it’s going to show you that entire path to conversion. If a customer came in on one day and then they called, and then three days later they called and left a voice mail, and then four days later they downloaded a Whitepaper. You want to be able to see all of that. If you have integrations in place or if you have a call analytics company that’s going to show you all of your data in one place and show you the multi-channel attribution for each of the customer’s interactions, that’s the kind of company you want to go with.

One more feature that you’re really going to want is powerful reporting because if you can’t report on it, how are you going to show certain stakeholders or your clients how their call analytics campaigns are running? I’m just going to run through a few things that you’re going to want to report on in a call analytics platform, and that’s: Calls by day and time, being able to see how many calls you’re receiving and when you’re receiving those calls. Then there are other things that you’re probably familiar with from Google Analytics, and call analytics providers should have those too, and that’s: unique callers, first time callers. You also want to see calls by keyword if you’re running keyword level call tracking. Once again, you love the keyword data. I know we do. You want to be able to see which keywords are driving people to your site and are driving conversions. The next one is calls by landings page. For the same reason that we care about keyword data, we want to see what’s converting and being able to see how many calls a landing page is driving. Of course, custom reports that you can use with your own data and easily being able to export these reports so that you can show other people how their analytics programs are running.

3. Understand & personalize how call tracking fits into your martech stack

Ashley Coleman: The third step in this process is: Personalize your approach. There are several factors to take into account when you’re personalizing your approach and we’re just going to touch on a couple here. When broaching the topic of selecting your call analytics vendor, it’s important to consider your marketing technology stack as a whole. We really need to pull back and look at the big picture first because the best marketing and sales technology ecosystems are going to work cohesively in tracking attribution and then pushing those prospects through your lead lifecycle.

What does your existing marketing technology stack look like? There are several platforms out there, so we’re just going to go over some of the most commonly used integrations that we see here at CallRail. Google Analytics and Google Ads (formerly AdWords.) Most of us are probably familiar with Google Analytics and Ads to some degree and integrating call tracking with these two can provide a more complete view of how your marketing efforts are working and where you might need to make some adjustments. If that’s your goal, you’ll need your call tracking provider to offer these integrations and understand how they’re actually built. Ultimately, you will want the ability to set up goals for calls so you can track them as conversions, and do things like create advanced segments just for those callers. You might even want to be able to use phone calls as a stage in a multi-channel conversion funnel.

The next one that we see often are CRM integrations. If your company uses a CRM, folding your phone call data into that will be extremely valuable. There are several CRM systems out there, as I’m sure you know. We personally use Salesforce here in house, as many people do, but you’ll want to evaluate how you anticipate your call analytics software speaking to your CRM, as well as considering your sales team’s workflow. That’s a big one. Some things to think about there are: How does it tie phone call activity to an existing lead and what does that look like? Do you want to be able to tie it to various campaigns that you’re creating within your CRM? You definitely want to work with your CRM admin before you get started here so you can get those questions hashed out ahead of time.

Another one is Marketing Automation platforms. This is where I geek out and this was a big one for us when we were going through the process of folding our call analytics into the bigger picture. If you have some similar priorities, you’ll want a clear understanding of how those two systems are interacting with each other and, again, some questions to hash out ahead of time are: How will the phone call activity match to an existing record? You might think that the obvious answer here is that it’s going to match on phone number, and some of them do, but some actually have advanced functionality where it can tie the phone call activity through the Marketing Automation’s cookie ID. Some of the integrations can actually check on both fields, so you definitely just want to make sure that you understand how that’s going to work.

Another question is: What information is pushed for a new lead? If you’re like me, you’re going to care about that lead source and being able to view everything at a high level within your Marketing Automation platform. When it’s all said and done, can I use these phone call activities to take actions like lead scoring, or even adding these prospects to a nurture program? At the end of the day, if you don’t see the integrations available that you’re looking for, the next step would really be to ask about web hooks and an open API. If you have those development resources within your organization, creating a custom integration might be an option here. Just be aware that not all call tracking companies have an open API and some might charge extra for that. Make sure you understand how that works. Before I move on, one more thing that I want to add is: You might not want all of your phone calls pushed to your integration. You want to ensure that you have some flexibility within your call analytics vendor’s settings.

I’ll just give you an internal example here from CallRail. We have call tracking numbers set up on our website and when people call in, they go through a call flow that gives the option of, “press one for sales, two for support, etc.” We really didn’t want those phone calls coming to support to be pushing through our Marketing Automation and CRM platforms every single time. We solved this issue by using a tagging functionality where we only push the sales calls that we really wanted to capture. That was a must have feature for us. You definitely want to make sure that you have some sort of flexibility there so you can customize what you are hoping to capture.

Next, consider your industry and how you might require a tailored approach. We’re going to talk about call tracking for agencies right now. This is just one example to get you in the right mindset in thinking about how your approach might be a little bit different based on your business. If you’re an agency, you’re probably familiar with the Google Ads term MCC, which is shortened for My Client Center. This was created for agencies that have separate client accounts and want to be able to access those various accounts through one single login so they’re not having to login to each client account every single time. You’ll want similar functionality in your call tracking provider as well. Ideally, you want to be able to navigate between client accounts and view that high level dashboard and billing info all in one place. Absolutely make sure you ask about that.

An additional element is a White Label option. Many agencies prefer using White Labeling with their call tracking platform because this allows them to use their own brand on their call analytics dashboard, emails, and even domain name. The benefit there is having the client constantly immersed in your brand across the board. Your client doesn’t even need to know that you’re using that specific vendor.

Another one here is implementation costs. Oftentimes setting up an agency account can require a little bit more guidance, especially if you’re new to the call tracking industry. There are many call tracking providers that are going to charge a separate implementation fee for this, so you definitely want to make sure that you understand how that works before diving in.

4. Research your call tracking vendors thoroughly

The final step in the process is: Investigate customer testimonies. The first thing you’ll want to research here are going to be case studies for your specific industry. Case studies can be really beneficial throughout the evaluation process, and you should always, always, always be sure to ask your sales rep to provide case studies to you that are relevant to your business, which will highlight where your company has the potential to benefit the most from call tracking. Really good case studies are going to provide you with hard metrics around how call tracking was leveraged to accomplish things like increasing workflow efficiencies, increasing conversions, and decreasing ad spend. The best part about having access to relevant statistics like that is being able to leverage that data when you’re making your case to your internal stakeholders on the value of call analytics. It’s much easier to get the green light on these types of tools when you show you’ve done your homework and you really understand the benefits of it.

The next to-do is checking out some software review sites. These sites are a great way to start understanding each call tracking vendors strengths and weaknesses. They’re like a Yelp for software, which is really cool. G2 Crowd is one of the more popular software review sites out there and they not only provide reviews from specific users, but it allows you to compare platforms and get that side by side ranking comparison on things like usability, maintenance, support, and product direction, to name a few.

Lastly, you can always depend on peer reviews. Don’t hesitate to leverage your network to get feedback from people that you already know and trust. That’s what we have LinkedIn for after all. I personally have tried to spend a lot of time building up a network of digital marketing professionals that I can talk shop with for this exact reason. If all else fails and you find yourself in need of a recommendation from a digital marketing professional, I am certainly happy to provide you with one.


Erica Hawkins: All right, so we’re going to get into some questions. Like I mentioned before, if you would like to have one of your questions answered, just drop them in the box underneath the audio and type your question there. I guess we can go ahead and we can start, Ashley. Do we have any questions that we’d like to go over?

1. What are the laws surrounding call recording?

That’s actually a very good question and one that we get quite often. Call recording laws vary from state to state. Some states require one party consent and others two party consent so it’s important that you know what the laws are regarding call recording in the specific places you’ll be doing business. Also, make sure that your analytics provider allows you to disable and enable the call recording function, and also set up pre-recorded messages to inform callers they will be recorded.

2. Will using call analytics have a negative impact on my NAP consistency?

NAP Consistency is very important to Local Search Marketers –  which make up a big part of our client base, so it’s also very important to us. If you decide you want to track all calls to the business, there is a way to do this without interfering with your hard-won NAP consistency. Here’s a great blog post with more information on call analytics and NAP consistency.

3. We run multiple campaigns and some of them seasonal. How long after the campaign ends will call data be available?

We can’t speak for all analytics providers, but here, at CallRail your call data is available forever. So if you end a campaign and want to go back and compare a current campaign with that data you’ll be able to access it. Those call recordings and analytics on how campaigns performed are still there so they can go back and compare them to current campaigns, or just reference how a campaign performed initially.

4. What about taking credit cards over the phone when being recorded?

While we can’t offer you legal advice, we would suggest taking payment over a secure website as oppose to taking personal information like credit card details over the phone.

5. Do you issue local phone numbers by area code or city?

We determine locality based on area code and prefix (the first 6 numbers).

6. Can I take my CallRail phone numbers with me after I finish running a campaign?

Yes. Here at CallRail you have the ability to port phone numbers in and out, which gives our customers the confidence they need to use their phone numbers online and in print, knowing that they have ownership of that number.

7. How would you say you’re different than companies like CallTrackingMetrics and Invoca?

CallRail is the market share leader with more deployments than any of our competitors. On top of that we have the highest customer satisfaction in the industry. What our customers that come from CallTrackingMetrics have told us is that our software is so much more intuitive to use and we are much more helpful in getting them up and running.

Unlike Invoca, CallRail has no implementation fees and does not require that you commit to a contract. Our software is so easy to use you can be up and running by yourself in less than 10 minutes.