Call Tracking Dynamic Number Replacement and Cloaking

TL;DR

We don’t use cloaking.

What we do has a passing resemblance to cloaking, but we’re not messing with keywords, and not trying to lie about page content.

Cloaking

We’ve had some inquiries lately about cloaking, a black-hat technique that search engines (Google in particular) dislike. If you’re already familiar with the technique, feel free to skip to Do we use Cloaking?

What is Cloaking?

To start, here’s a three word description: cloaking is lying.

The techniques to accomplish cloaking vary greatly, but the result is the same. Cloaking is lying about a websites’ content, generally so the search engine will think it is more relevant than it actually is.  Google considers this to be violating their terms and conditions because when you click through to the site you get different content than you expected.

Is Cloaking Evil?

Normally? Yes, yes it is. Most technologies have legitimate uses, as very few are designed from the ground up to be evil – mostly because it’s more cost effective to subvert an existing technique than go through the bother of researching and developing something new from the ground up.

An example of not-evil cloaking was common back when Flash was the nifty new thing going around the Internet. Web pages would often serve up an HTML page to those users who didn’t have the capability to use the nifty flash sites. Technically speaking, this is cloaking, since the content given to users (Flash-based shiny goodness) didn’t match what the search engine bot would see. Now we have much more elegant ways of solving that problem, progressive enhancement and unobtrusive JavaScript are two examples.

Do we use Cloaking?

At CallTrackingMetrics we use two main techniques that look similar to cloaking at first glance: replacing phone numbers on our client’s websites, and hidden text in our own website.

We believe that our use of these techniques is not malicious, not deceptive, and thus do not constitute cloaking.

Replacing phone numbers

One of the key parts of our service is replacing phone numbers on a client’s website with dynamically generated replacements, based on characteristics of the visiting user. We do not consider this cloaking because the number that is being replaced is functionally equivalent (for the user) to the one number it replaced. Either number will connect the user to the company, so the user’s expectation is not violated.

In addition similar techniques such as A/B testing, extensively used by Optimizely, and IP Delivery, which used by Google and About.com to deliver more relevant content.

Hidden Text

In our own site, we make use of hidden text in various locations. One of the major uses is to attach authentication tokens to forms as a way of protecting form submissions. This is a very common technique, and is both build into, and the default behavior, of the web framework we use. This is information that is irrelevant to most users, and as such is not displayed.

In addition, we are working on updating those forms which do not have visible text labels, with hidden text labels, intended for consumption by screen readers. This serves to make the site more accessible, and is a best practice.

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Google Brings “Not Provided” To Ads- How it Affects CTM

As suspected, Google is moving to secure search for clicks on paid search ads. Google made the announcement yesterday:

“Today, we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on Google.com.Advertisers will continue to have access to useful data to optimize and improve their campaigns and landing pages.  For example, you can access detailed information in the AdWords search terms report and the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.”

What is affected in CTM? 

As your calls come in, we have traditionally immediately reported the search query the user typed into the search engine within the source detail column of the call log. That information will likely say “not provided” going forward.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 10.22.13 AM

 

Similarly, the search queries will increasingly show up as “not provided” in the calls by search term report.  

If this information is critical for you to receive right away for your calls, we recommend adding parameters to your URL’s in Adwords using ValueTrack. How to use ValueTrack parameters in your destination URL’s),

 

What wont be affected?

You will still be able to see the keyword that generated the ad click (as opposed to the actual query as described above) in the call log as well as in the calls by ad keyword report and this information will be available through our API, in our sync to GA etc. Nothing will be changing about that information. This information is just typically not populated for an hour or two after the call comes in due to the time it takes to get it from google.

Source detail of call

We will post more as we learn more!

Update (May 25th 2014)

We now will replace the (not provided) section with the adwords provided keywords.  Additionally, it’s useful to note that to get adwords data your Google Analytics account must be linked to Adwords in addition to your CallTrackingMetrics account.

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Security for Heartbleed Vulnerability

We’ve noticed a lot of activity and concern over the recent OpenSSL  Heartbleed bug.    This post is a review of the steps and actions we have taken to ensure our service remains secure.

Action by CallTrackingMetrics

CallTrackingMetrics has reviewed all services including some third party integrations to ensure that all properties under our control have been either patched or confirmed that they were not affected by.

Changing your CallTrackingMetrics password

We have no evidence that any customer data (including user names and passwords) was exposed.  However, if you have any concerns about your account’s protection, you should change your password.

1. Sign in to CallTrackingMetrics at https://calltrackingmetrics.com/login

2. From the main navigation click on your eChange passwordmail address and select Your Profile.

 

Regenerating your API access keys

1. Navigate to your account settings or agency settings page.

2. Click Reset API Access.

 

If you need additional help, contact us

 

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Spotlight On: Pacific54′s Instant Call Reporting

Pacific54

 

 

Across this year, we will be highlighting interesting things that our customers are doing with the CallTrackingMetrics platform. We hope that this provides potential and existing customers with ideas about how to use CTM reporting while also providing customers we work with the opportunity to promote their services. 

We start with Pacific54, an online marketing agency located in the trendy Wynwood district of Miami. They specialize in creating intelligent online solutions- anything from building websites to complex custom platforms.  They work with a range of customers including local businesses, startups & large enterprises like (KFC, Exteria, Keiser University,etc.)

The developers at Pacific54 leveraged the CTM API to provide their clients with a variety of reports to demonstrate the performance of their advertising campaigns while also giving them instant information about their leads. They used the CTM calls API as well as the FormReactor. 

Click 2 Call Forms

Pacific54 combined CTM’s FormReactor with Piwik to send their clients an instant email as soon as a web form is completed. The email includes rich details such as the visitors time on site, pages viewed, number of visits, location (based on IP), name of the caller (3rd party called ID lookup), and the keyword or referrer that brought them to the website.  Here is an example:

Example of Click to Call Instant Email

Example of Click to Call Instant Email

 

 

 

Inbound Calls

At the end of each call, Pacific54 also sends their clients an email with the caller details, name, audio recording, location on the map based on caller id so they instantly know the background on the lead that just came in.

This is what it looks like:

 

Inbound Call Email

Example of Email After Inbound Call

 

Weekly Emails

Finally, they leverage the CTM API to weekly and overall statistics about call volume so clients know the busiest times for their calls, month to month performance etc.

An example:  

Example of Weekly Performance Email

Example of Weekly Performance Email

 

What has the reaction been?

The guys over at Pacific54 report that the emails are easy for the clients to digest and they really help to emphasize the value of their advertising services. Its especially useful in service industries like lawyers, travel agents, and doctors where most conversions come in over the phone. 

Contact us if you have any questions about leveraging the CTM platform to create these types of reports.

 

 

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Announcing Call Queue’s and Outbound Calling

We have been busy! These latest enhancements to the CallTrackingMetrics software allow you to:

New Role Type: Agents 

You can now add users to the system with the new “Agent” role type. Agents are able to view just the calls in the

Adding New Agent to CTM

call log that they have answered as well as make outbound calls.  Each agent can have their own receiving number, picture, and schedule of availability. If no schedule is entered, it is assumed that the agent is always available to be part of a queue.

Agents can be part of a call queue and accept calls that way or you can assign an agent to a call using the “set agent” feature in the agent column of the call log. 

 

 

Call Queue’s (Now found within the numbers drop-down)

From this page you can:

Call Queue

Call Queue

Within a call queue, as calls come in, available agents can answer and can take the call by pressing 1 after the prompt. At that point, the call is considered answered and it wont be available to other agents.

The call log will automatically display the agent that accepted the call in the “receiving” column.

 

Outbound Calling (Now found in the call log)

Click Phone Button to Make Outbound Call

Click Phone Button to Make Outbound Call

While we have previously had the ability to return calls from the call log, agents can now initiate brand new outbound calls using the new orange “Phone” button found in the call log.

These outbound calls are listed in the call log with their audio recording with an outbound icon and are associated to the correct agent placing the call. You can also now view outbound calls by agent in the new calls by agent report.

 

Post Call Scoring (Now found within the calls dropdown.)

This feature allows you to customize the “score” column (previously named the “sale column) of the call log.  In this customization, you can choose to include fields like conversions, ratings, tags and notes. The scoring questions you choose will be presented to agents whenever they are viewing the call log to take inbound calls or place outbound calls so they are sure to complete the information in the moment. The results are all surfaced in the new calls by agent report.

Scoring Calls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calls by Agent Report (Now found within the calls reports)

This new report shows you stats by agent such as inbound calls, outbound calls, conversions, revenue, average talk time and average ratings for calls. Its a great tool to manage the performance of your customer service or sales agents.

Enjoy! And as always, let us know if you run into any issues using these new features or if you have any suggestions for future enhancements.

 

 

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CallTrackingMetrics At the IFA Convention

We just wrapped up our first exhibition at the International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention in New Orleans. It was a fantastic meeting where we got to meet executives from franchises around the world and learn a lot about the franchising industry in general. The franchising industry has such a need for call tracking given the service focus of a lot of their businesses and the nature of the franchisor/franchisee relationship. We are really excited to work with a number of franchises in this Association like Griswold Home Care, Tutor Doctor, and the Goddard School- and we look forward to building new relationships coming out of this meeting.

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CallTrackingMetrics Invites You to LeadsCon Las Vegas 2014!

We are excited to announce that we will be exhibiting our call tracking and lead management software at LeadsCon in Las Vegas on March 25 & 26. Come by the CallTrackingMetrics booth (#352) at the Mirage Hotel & Casino where we will have all our latest offerings showcased and our top executives on hand.

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A Special Thanks: $.50 Tracking Numbers from CTM

Wednesday Through Monday: 

Purchase US/CA Tracking Numbers For $.50! 

This is rare- we never do this: In honor of the shopping season and to say thanks to our wonderful customers, we are offering a special deal on US/CA tracking numbers.

Beginning at 12:01am EST on Wednesday November 27th, purchase new local OR toll-free tracking numbers* in the US or Canada for just 50 cents for the first month.  It’s a steal!! 

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Introducing CallTrackingMetrics for iPhone/iPad

CallTrackingMetrics is excited to announce the launch of its first mobile app:  now available for purchase in iTunes for Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Have you ever been on the road and wanted to check in on your call volume for the day or see how your latest ad is performing? Maybe you’d like to review the calls you missed, listen to the recordings and quickly call everyone back?

CallTrackingMetrics wants to make your life easier thats why we’re launching the CallTrackingMetrics Call App, a new way to interact with our tracking software.

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Streamlined Main Navigation

We rolled out an updated look to our main navigation this weekend in an effort to make things easier to find and more streamlined. We looked at the most frequently used aspects of our service and have tried to make them as easy to find as possible and organized more administrative components to the system into one new administrative dropdown.

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 3.12.08 PM

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