Contractors say that an online lead tracking service more than pays for itself in reduced lead costs.
Contractors say that an online lead tracking service more than pays for itself in reduced lead costs.

Ken Julian of Basement Systems–The Flood Busters in Baltimore can ruin an advertising salesman's day in a matter of minutes. While a salesperson's holding forth on impressions, recognition, awareness, and ad effectiveness Julian can pretty much tune him out at any time. That's because he has, at his fingertips, all the numbers he needs for him to know how effective his print and direct mail pieces are. He knows how many leads resulted from every ad campaign. He can't be snowed.

“I cancelled probably eight [advertising] contracts last year,” Julian says. He also shifted a boatload of advertising dollars into a community shopper that everyone told him didn't work. Guess what? “We found out it does,” he says.

Online Lead Tracking For the past year or so, Julian has used an Internet-based lead tracking and management system called Who's Calling. With this service, Julian can assign a different toll-free number to every ad campaign, coupon, or mailer. Who's Calling records every call, including those received after hours, regardless of whether or not the caller left a message. The program then automatically notifies him of all results by e-mail.

So far the company owners have only used the service for print (excluding Yellow Pages advertising), but Julian plans to try Who's Calling when he moves into TV and radio advertising later this year.

Julian can go online to retrieve missed calls for follow-up and check on all calling activity. He can view and download reports that analyze lead flow by parameters such as phone number, area code, and time of day. The service also allows him to download reports and call recordings within 60 days if he wants to keep a permanent record.

“It's been a big money saver,” says Julian, who reports that the service has him spending his marketing dollars more effectively.

Getting Back the Leads That Got Away Being able to retrieve missed calls using Who's Calling has paid off for Sylvain Contracting, a replacement company in Salem, N.H. President Marc Sylvain figures he sells at least an additional $12,000 each month, about the size of his average job.

“If someone calls, lets it ring twice and hangs up, or gets a busy signal, we capture that call and we can set that lead,” he explains. Three such leads will usually result in one sale, Sylvain says. And it's common to have more than three missed calls in any given month. These “extra” sales have helped the owner drive down overall lead costs: from $310 per lead in 2004 to $287 last year.

The service pays for itself many times over, both contractors say. It can be priced in several ways, based on the number of toll-free lines and, in some cases, usage. Sylvain pays less than $1,000 a month for that extra $12,000 sale, he says.