Foundations Recovery Network wanted to know if it got its money's worth advertising on Google.
Until last year, Foundations didn't have a full grasp of its marketing campaigns because its call-tracking software wouldn't transfer statistics about phone calls generated by Google AdWords into Google Analytics.
Foundations' search engine marketing strategist, Zander Jones, likes the number-crunching powers of Analytics. Paying as much as $42 per click on a keyword through AdWords, Jones didn't want to keep stumbling in the dark if he couldn't measure ROI in Analytics.
There's a lot of online competition in the substance abuse recovery field, with information on scores of treatment facilities readily available across the Web, said Jones, who works in the company's Nashville corporate headquarters. It's important to stand out when people search the internet for a place to seek help, he said.
The company treats patients with a dual diagnosis of substance addiction and mental health disorders at four facilities in California, Georgia and Tennessee. With Adwords, Foundations pays Google per click on an advertisement on a search results page -- displayed after a particular keyword search -- which leads the web user to a company website with a displayed phone number.
AdWords doesn't come cheap for organizations treating addiction. The keyword "recovery" costs $42.03 per click, and "rehab" costs $33.59 per click, placing them in the top 18 most expensive advertising keywords of 2011, according to the internet marketing company WordStream.
Jones also purchases a bunch of other keywords, including "addiction treatment," "alcohol rehab," "drug rehab" and "addiction rehab."
Foundations had used a company that offers phone numbers, cost-per-click metrics and call-tracking software shortly before Jones was hired in 2010. But that service didn't allow him to move statistics about calls that came from AdWords-designated phone numbers into Analytics.
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He needed to measure AdWords phone calls alongside organic Web hits in Analytics to have a full picture of a marketing campaign. Last year, Jones sought out new call-tracking software because he wanted to more effectively measure the value of paying for those words.
As with the old program, any new call-tracking software had to provide a phone number not just for each term, but for each person who called after searching a term. In other words, two callers couldn't have the same phone number for the same term; otherwise, data for a particular keyword would be skewed. That means Foundations needs as many as 60 phone numbers available at any one time.
"One phone number, say '555-5555,' may be used for 'drug rehab' at 3 o'clock, and later in the day it could be used for 'alcohol recovery,' " he said. Jones also puts a "little bit of code" on a keyword and its affiliated phone number, so that a customer is associated with both after calling Foundations.
Dropping the old program, Jones chose Ifbyphone, a Chicago-based company that offers call-tracking Software as a Service (SaaS). Ifbyphone's SourceTrak integrates with Google Analytics, enabling Jones to measure keyword-triggered phone calls and providing the many needed designated phone numbers.
"How do I take a phone call -- something that's offline and can't be recorded with a computer -- and measure it?" he said. With SourceTrak, each call is logged as a virtual webpage visit. Google Analytics labels the virtual webpage as a visited page, he said.
Analytics through SourceTrak lets him see if prospective customers were unique Web visitors or callers who were led by a keyword on Google. (Foundations also uses Microsoft Bing to advertise, but the largest amount of advertising time and money is devoted to Google.)
"We can take an offline conversation that isn't used by a computer and put it alongside things like website visitors and emails. That's valuable," Jones said.
The setup of SourceTrak went smoothly, Jones said, but he does have one quibble about its integration with Google: AdWords has an editing function that allows for the mass editing of keywords, but on the SourceTrak side of the program, he sees only a "big pool of words" that doesn't allow for a big edit, he said. He also can't run a search in SourceTrak that would allow him to see if he used a particular term and if it's still in use.
Jones wishes the program would allow him to categorize words, such as placing "alcohol" and other related terms under one heading.
But Jones appreciates how he now has a complete measurement of Web visits that includes keyword-triggered phone calls.
He can see which geographic regions respond to certain keywords and can advertise accordingly. For instance, when flights in New York and New Jersey were canceled because of Hurricane Sandy, he knew that residents in that area wouldn't be booking trips to Foundations' rehab facilities, so he temporarily halted ads there.
"I can see where most phone calls generate," Jones said. "If I don't have that information, I don't know which words turned into phone calls. Was it from Ohio or Washington?"
Albert McKeon is on Twitter: twitter.com/TechTarget_Al
This was first published in January 2013