Many businesses, in their attempts to monitor their advertising, have signed up with a company that provides them with a phone number in an attempt to track efficacy. Tracking advertising is a sound advisement, as small businesses with a limited ad budget then have the ability to spend that budget more wisely. However, tracking your advertising efficacy through a dedicated phone line can be very detrimental for a plethora of reasons:
Local listings on all major search engines rely on many factors when ranking businesses in search results. One of the most important factors is the consistency of your “NAP” (Name, Address, Phone number) factors. Having multiple numbers listed as your main phone number breeds mass confusion on the search engines. Many of the companies who issue tracking phone numbers will share the information and change your number on one or more listing site, such as Google, Yellow Pages, Bing, and more. Some of these sites will even consider the second phone number to be a second location or another business altogether, and will create multiple listings for your business. As a result, the search and directory sites feel less confident that your information is accurate and are less likely to recommend you as a top listing.
Several of the companies that sell tracking numbers reuse old phone numbers. It is very difficult to wipe incorrect information off of the internet, and on listing sites, these phone numbers may still be attached to other businesses’ pages. This not only will be a little annoying for you when someone calls looking for the wrong business, but it confuses search engines even more and can even result in your page being deleted entirely.
Let’s say you have been assigned a number to track your Yellow Pages online listing. When this number is subsequently pulled to Google and dozens of other sites, is this actually tracking your Yellow Pages listing at all? The truth is that you have little control of where these numbers actually go and trying to track specific sites through a phone number is ineffectual. This incorrect information defeats the entire purpose of having a tracking number in the first place, not to mention causing your customers and/or patients more confusion than necessary.
In the event that you no longer wish to use these tracking phone numbers that are now dispersed all across the internet, who will change the number back? Completely fixing this issue typically requires a large amount of time and resources, as the company who you are no longer working with is not going to do this for free. This often leaves businesses at a loss of what to do about the frequency of their phones rining steadily declining as the number ceases to function, yet is still propagated around the web.
At this point you have probably come to the conclusion that tracking numbers are bad- but are there better ways to track advertising? Some of the best methods include various methods of asking your clients how they found you and charting that information wisely. We provide our clients with multiple avenues, including but not limited to a web greeter, comment cards, and/or Google Analytics to track advertising.
Whenever considering any type of online marketing, it is important to look at and consider any long-term effects a decision may have, no matter how great the opportunity may seem on paper. If you are approached with a proposal for advertising, whether it involves Yellow Pages, TV, Radio, or online mediums, please request a free ad evaluation from your NEXT! Ad Agency account manager. Your account manager will look into the opportunity, speak with the salesperson involved, and will report back to you with a comprehensive overview of the program and its positives and negatives.