Marketing strategies continuously evolve. For your business to stay ahead of the competition, it must stay current with the latest trends, techniques, and technologies.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing engages customers through unpaid strategies, such as content marketing, social media marketing, and SEO. Unlike traditional marketing, inbound marketing helps businesses attract interest instead of pushing messages, such as advertising, about products and services to people who may not be interested.

Inbound marketing relies primarily on HubSpot's methodology of "attract, convert, close, and delight." That sums up the process of attracting strangers, nurturing them into customers, then converting them into loyal followers and promoters of your brand.

Why Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing tactics have a proven track record of success, with a close rate of 14.6% on average. Rather than relying on traditional outbound marketing methods like direct mail, spam email, and telemarketing—which have a close rate of 1.7%—inbound marketing lets the customers come to you.

This marketing strategy helps to establish trust, secure long-term business and build a loyal brand following. That's not to say traditional marketing methods are obsolete; rather, it just means there is an entire other strategy to explore.

But how do you naturally attract customers? By giving them valuable information they want or need. Keeping your customers top of mind ensures you deliver valuable, quality content they crave; and that keeps them coming back for more.

What Is Call Tracking?

Call tracking helps businesses to track and analyze their customers. Aside from basic important information, such as the location, time of day, and duration of each phone call, call tracking offers data about the sources of incoming calls. That data is then fed into analytics, allowing you to accurately analyze how well your campaigns are performing—not just online but over the phone as well.

By inserting tracking numbers into your online and offline campaigns, you're able to see which efforts are the most successful at driving phone calls—and business.

Call Tracking and Inbound Marketing

Call tracking is one of the most powerful tools available to aid in your inbound marketing efforts. It gives clear-cut, actionable data about any campaign, enabling businesses to better optimize their inbound marketing strategies.

Alongside the Web analytics you likely use with your campaigns, with call tracking you can see which inbound efforts are driving phone calls—a key metric that's often overlooked, despite its importance.

People who call your business are arguably your hottest leads. Knowing exactly how they find you gives you the ability to better pivot your tactics to attract and convert more customers to boost your inbound marketing ROI.

Without call tracking, it may seem like your inbound marketing tactics aren't working. For example, you may see that only a few people have filled out an online form that they arrived at from a content marketing campaign. But what if that same campaign caused dozens of people to call you instead? That data would otherwise be lost, and it would seem that your efforts aren't paying off; in short, you'd have faulty information to work with when optimizing your inbound strategy.

With call tracking, that data is no longer lost. You're able to correlate phone calls with inbound campaigns to give you a better understanding of what's working and what isn't. It's the missing piece you need to complete your inbound marketing puzzle.

In addition, call tracking makes the analysis process much easier. Inbound marketing encompasses numerous campaigns and moving parts, and it can be difficult to track everything at once. With call tracking, you're able to track each campaign individually to gain an accurate perspective of your performance.

Specific Inbound Marketing Tactics

Call tracking is useful in just about any facet of inbound marketing. Here are just a few examples of how call tracking can enhance your inbound campaigns:

  • Content marketing campaigns. If you have a campaign using a whitepaper or an e-book, you'll want to get an accurate and comprehensive picture of corresponding conversions—and the only way to do that is to also use call tracking. Put a tracking number in all touchpoints of your inbound campaign, including the deliverable itself, to evaluate its performance.
  • Automated email marketing. Place call tracking numbers in your email marketing deliverables to determine how effective your emails are in driving calls. You can get as granular as you want; for example, you can place one call tracking number in the first email in the series, then switch to a new phone number in the next email to compare the performance of the two. Doing so helps you to better nurture your leads to get them to convert.
  • Social media marketing. Add call tracking numbers to your social media campaigns to track their performance. Knowing which social media outlets and tactics drive phone calls will help you significantly improve your social media presence. Call tracking is especially helpful for businesses with Call Now buttons on their pages.

An Example of How Call Tracking Might Work

Let's run through an example of how call tracking would tie in with an inbound marketing campaign.

Imaging your company is a winter sports e-commerce store that's trying to attract and convert more leads into customers. Since winter is quickly approaching, you decide to create an e-book titled "A Guide to Purchasing Your First Pair of Skis." It contains valuable, worthwhile information for your target consumers—most likely beginner skiers who aren't sure how to go about sizing and buying their first pair of skis.

To promote your e-book, you create a landing page with an online form to capture email addresses. When visitors fill out the form, they'll be able to view and download the e-book. That landing page can feature a tracking phone number, which can (and should) be included in the e-book itself.

You decide to promote your e-book on your favorite social networks, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. You can get very specific with call tracking by creating different tracking numbers for each platform, allowing you to see which social networks are the most effective at driving calls for this campaign.

Since you require leads to give out their email addresses before downloading the e-book, you'll have their information on file for automated email marketing campaigns. You can insert a tracking number in the emails included in your marketing automation funnel, allowing you to effectively track leads and analyze the results of the email automation.

* * *

Doing inbound marketing is great, but integrating call tracking with it makes inbound all the more powerful. Inserting tracking numbers into your inbound deliverables will give you the data you need to accurately track the performance of your campaigns and create a winning inbound strategy.

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The Essential Role of Call Tracking as an Inbound Marketing Tactic

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image of Mark Sullivan

Mark Sullivan is director of demand generation for CallRail, a call-tracking and analytics company based in Atlanta. He speaks and writes about local SEO, marketing workflow tools, call analytics, and advertising metrics.

LinkedIn: Mark Sullivan

Twitter: @mpsulli