G5 search marketing has carved out a niche in the self storage sector. Its model has grown over the past few years with the general demand in the marketplace for more performance metrics in local advertising. Its suite of services now includes hosted Web sites, SEM & SEO services, call tracking, coupon management, and an analytics dashboard to tie it all together.
But its latest addition has been to integrate the same call tracking dashboard to print Yellow Pages advertising. The goal, according to CEO Dan Hobin, is to give advertisers more transparency around where their ad dollars are being spent. Comparing leads generated and cost per lead across print and online, he contends, is the best way to do this.
Under the Hood
Calculating call volumes is done by call tracking both in print and online (nothing new). Figuring out the quality leads to come out of those calls is the tough part. To do this, his team has listened to hundreds of phone calls to devise the average percentage that result in quality leads. That percentage is then applied to monthly volumes to come up with an extrapolated lead volume. Putting that against the ad spend per location results in a cost-per-lead figure.
Though this is an extrapolated amount, advertisers can drill down further — if they have the time — to examine all the calls they’ve received and what actual percentage were good leads. This happens through a media player within the dashboard that allows advertisers to listen to digitally recorded calls.
After urging Hobin to play a few of them, we listened to one self storage branch’s monthly calls. Among five calls, there were two good leads (there was also a Yellow Pages sales call we got to listen to). This was fairly consistent with his predefined formula that 50 percent of calls were quality leads in the storage category. Unexpectedly, his figure is better for online, with 66 percent of calls generating good leads on average.
There were a few surprises along these lines. The call volumes and quality leads coming from print were fewer than those online, in what is a traditionally strong category for print advertising. Hobin’s stated intention for more transparency has indeed led to shifts in marketing budgets away from print for many of his advertisers, he claims.
G5’s two categories (it also serves assisted living) and its geographic scope mean these data represent a small slice of the overall picture. This would preclude our own conclusions about the overall trends when it comes to leads generated from print vs. online. But for an individual advertiser using the G5 model and knowing his or her own details, it could be a powerful analytics tool.
This is especially true within Hobin’s sweet spot of midsize businesses with lots of regional locations. The data are presented in a sharp and intuitive way for analyzing performance across multiple branches or locations. The tool’s design in reaching this sweet spot could, however, limit its broader appeal to certain categories and business sizes.
For example, to get the most out of its feature set requires time and management that might only be possible for businesses of a certain size with dedicated marketing staff. But to be fair, that can be said about a lot of things.
Overall, it’s a powerful tool and it spits out lots of telling data that are interesting from the perspective of an analyst — probably much more interesting from the perspective of a regional storage company with 25 branches and lots of marketing “balls in the air.”
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