How to encourage stubborn SEO clients to implement call tracking


  • Call tracking is essential for clients that work in call heavy industries (trades, mobile services etc)
  • Consider negotiating a trade-off with clients that might be reluctant to invest in call tracking
  • Help educate the client about the importance of call tracking and its benefits


Rhys:                    My question to you is have you ever worked on a campaign without offline phone call tracking? I know that you’re obviously a big advocate for it, and it gives you all the data you need. It also helps you demonstrate a return on investment.

John:                     Yeah.

Rhys:                    Just about everyone knows that. I’ve had one or two clients that outright refused.

John:                     Yeah.

Rhys:                    They’re very attached to their number. And the campaign went amazing anyway, been working together for years. But what do you do if, let’s say a client is really against it? Will you ever take them on, or what’s the-

John:                     Oh, yeah, yeah. No, I’ve had plenty of campaigns as well, Rhys, where I’ve had that same situation where … and it varies between clients, I’ve found. Some, as you mentioned just then, say, “Look, we love our 1-800 number. We’re not going to change it.” Or, “I’ve got to have my mobile number because people want to know that when they call, they’re going to get me, and not some call centre in the Philippines.” I’ve had a lot of that. All you can do there is do your best to help the client. It’s all about education, right? Help the client understand why it’s beneficial for them to implement call tracking. Right?

This is something that it’s not a five-minute conversation. Often, it can be easier to convey that message during a presentation or in video format. This is why, just recently, you would have seen in the group, I’m working on the client portal, right, where once you onboard a client, they start working with you. They have their own dedicated portal, so they log in. In that portal, you can include short videos where you can provide training videos, in a sense. You can cover this stuff in depth, and help the client understand the benefits of implementing call tracking. I mean, at the end of the day, one thing that I’ve found is that some clients just need that little bit of help in order to get them over the line, right? They need that little bit of education. It’s like, “Okay, well, this is just another expense for us. What’s the point? We can just scribble it down, I’ll take notes in the spreadsheet.”

Once you explain to them the reasons why, and help them understand the benefits and educate them, some clients, that’s all they need. And they’ll say, “Oh, that makes total sense, John. All right, let’s do it.” Other clients, regardless of what you do and the amount of efforts that you make, they’ll just refuse. There’s really not much you can do about that. In those instances, it is what it is. I’ve certainly worked with clients where they’ve said to me, “No, John, we’re not interested in call tracking. It’s not going to happen. It’s just another expense that we don’t need right now.” And we’ll be three months into the campaign, and they’ll change their mind and say, “Shit, we can see the gaps in the data here during the end-of-month strategy call in your reporting.”

They’ll say, “Aw, fuck, it’s obvious that we need to add call tracking here, because we received a shitload of calls and we didn’t close any of the jobs.” When I speak to a client about call tracking, one thing that I have done a lot of, Rhys, to get people over the line; I mean, telling someone that call tracking is going to be beneficial is one thing. But when you can back it up with real-world examples of why, then that can be even more powerful again. I’ll give you an example of that. I had a client that had a young girl answering the phone. Right?

Rhys:                    Couldn’t close a door?

John:                    Couldn’t close a door. She was a young girl, she had a process, a set sales group that she was meant to follow, but she wasn’t following. It became apparent during the end-of-month strategy calls. I said to the client, “Listen, we sent you 400 leads here. How many did you close?” And he said, “We’ve only got 30 jobs this month.” We knew right away that there was something wrong, right? There was a massive difference in the numbers. And what actually happened is it turned out that the girl that was answering the phone, right, she’s picking up phone going, “Yeah, yeah, $180. Okay, bye.” Because she just didn’t give a shit. It wasn’t until the client implemented call tracking where they could see that their close rates were 10%. That client, that $150 spent to implement call tracking, has saved that business because he had no idea otherwise. Right? It was costing him more not to have call tracking in place.

That’s a story that I sometimes share with clients, just to give them a good understanding of, “Hey, look. If you’re not tracking and measuring this stuff, and you don’t know what’s going on, then that …” This is way outside of SEO. Right?

Rhys:                    Yep.

John:                     This isn’t something that business owners should do just for their own sake. Right? Regardless of whether what we’re doing.

Rhys:                    Yep.

John:                     But it certainly helps. It helps us, it helps them. They have better understanding of their business. One thing that I will say in addition to all of that, is that, look. You can either get them across the line, or you can’t. Some businesses you just can’t. If they say, “No,” and that’s the end of story, then you’re going to have to make it very clear that they need to track at their end, and they should be able to present you with some sort of report, right? Whether they pick up the phone and they ask the question, “How did you find us?” They enter it into a CRM and then they send you that report at the end of the billing cycle so that you can look at the numbers and go, “Okay, I can start to make sense of this.” The last thing I will say in regards to call tracking and clients that are reluctant to implement it, I have in the past said to clients, “Listen. Take the $500 out of this month’s SEO campaign and put it towards call tracking.”

Rhys:                    Yeah.

John:                     “Okay? Don’t pay me $2,500. Pay me $2,000. The other $500, get this call tracking set up.” Now, that might seem a little bit odd, but I know that if they get call tracking in place and I’ve got all of the data, that’s going to make me look even better again. Right? That’s going to help with retention rates, and over time, I’m going to make that $500 back all day.

Rhys:                    Point made.

John:                     Yeah, that’s another way of taking that angle. Selling call tracking on top of SEO can be challenging; I’ve certainly experienced that.

Rhys:                    Yeah, okay. Good to know. Good answer.

John:                    Look, you should only do this if you feel that it’s absolutely necessary. One thing that I will say is that some businesses, the customer inquiries can be really call heavy. Trades, especially plumbers, electricians. 90% of their customer inquiries are coming through phone. Right? Because people are like, “Oh, fuck, the lights aren’t on. What’s going on?” Ring-ring. They don’t sit down and browse the Web for an hour. If the fucking shower’s pissing water everywhere, you know what I mean?

Rhys:                    Yeah.

John:                    And if you don’t have that data, you’re missing out on a huge amount of information there that you can present in your work summary sheets and in the end-of-month reporting to say, “Okay, you’re putting a dollar in. You’re pulling the lever and you’re getting $3 out.” Because that’s how we track and measure.

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