local media insider

Lead-generation tools every local media needs

Alisa Cromer

There are a few must-have technologies to grow digital sales that all local media companies should have in their arsenal to do what interactive media does best: targeting and conversion-tracking.These tools also help create higher switching costs – ie create high pain of switching media so advertisers do not want to leave. Here are some simple must haves for your digital toolbox:


For a small fee, roughly $10 to $25 a month per client, phone calls from online and off-line campaigns can be tracked. Any business that relies on call-ins (think businesses like doctors offices, beauty salons and restaurants that take reservations) considers a call-in to be an important lead.

Though local sales reps often do not want the accountability that comes with tracking results, they are usually shooting themselves in the foot. In almost every case (and I've personally tested dozens of these) the advertiser is getting more response than they are aware of, and in many cases are completely oblivious to stunning results.

Most small businesses do not “notice” phone calls until the range of 7 to ten per week for the simple reason that a call a day gets buried in the other phone activity, receptionists rotate or are uninterested, and multiple locations exacerbates the situation. So adding call tracking almost invariably raises the perception of response.

Managers who use tracking can also  "save" several accounts per year by asking the unhappy account if they can  tweak the offer and add a tracked phone number. One example was advertisement for  summer camp provided by a local YMCA organization.  To find out  "what happened" when the company got a call in, the manager called the number in the campaign and was connected to an overwhelmed receptionist who was obviously busy helping others at the front desk. She answered abruptly and never attempted to obtain information or an appointment.  Adding a  phone tracking number proved a call in rate of 10 to 15 a week, helped train the front desk and resulted in a $6000 buy.

In another case large stylish pure brand ad for a beauty salon in San Jose was registering 10 to 15 call ins per week with no offer. Those results gave the owner the confidence to invest $1000 a month in the campaign.

Call tracking is also a great way to test offers, such as free cut with color (consistently good response) versus 5% off services (consitently poor response).

Reports allow:
• After hour calls. Many businesses will want to follow-up on missed calls.
• Length of time on the call. A longish phone call should generate a key lead. For plastic surgeons, the doctor can spend an hour a week calling back potential patients to see if they have additional questions.
• Zip code areas. This is helpful in determining where to target future campaigns
• Caller-id. Allows the owner to match the call’ins with customers and create ROI.

Caveat: Use  call tracking with care for  businesses that are traditionally walk in, ie furniture stores fall into this category, make sure it is only “an option. “ T

he top companies supplying these services to media Call Source, Whos Calling and Call Track. We liked Call Source because it allows the customer to use a local phone number instead of an 866 line. The services are largely the same, so negotiate your best deal.

This is much friendlier than plain call-tracking for internet  and mobile ads camapagns. Essentially, click-to-call is call-tracking on steroids. It supplies immediate gratification for visitors while they are online and in the mood. Kelsey group estimated athat pay-per-call and click-to-call services will account for 26 percent of traditional directional ad revenues by 2010.

The Palm Beach Post, a Cox property, last year rolled out its Talk to Seller program, becoming the first newspaper to connect buyers to online classifieds advertisers using click to call. For that program, the paper won the Newspaper Association of America's Digital Edge Award for "Best Advertising Program, Circulation 100,000 to 249,999.  Cox is using Estara for click-to-call but there are a host of other suppliers. 

3.  Email data-collection
One of the most valuable uses of online advertising is building an email database for remarketing. This objective that may be even more important than making an immediate sale.

Since email is free, every name that goes on the list is  a valuable business asset. For businesses that use e-marketing encourage the business to come up with a aggressive promotions that build lists quickly. 

Surprisingly there are still a large number of local media companies who cannot supply e-mail data collection as a service. If you are one of these, there is no time too soon to set up this service.Constant Contact is a common supplier of both email and reseller email services.

Companies like Second Street Media and Shycast include email data-collection for contests. Although contest voter e-mail cannot be released directly to the sponsor, there are opportunities for remarketing to these voters by including discounts or other offers that allow them to “opt-in” directly to the advertiser’s list.

4. Splash pages
Very local media company must have some way to deploy a splash page with a variety of conversion tools.

Most small and medium sized advertisers have a hard time deploying a web page to match a specific campaigns and track results, so control of the splash page also allows the sales representative to have complete control.

Having said that, there are a number of easy ways to deploy a splash page that converts without creating a new page or using the clients web site: A coupon or a  directory profile of the business with the offer embedded (plus a click to call line) can also work.  Even the Facebook fan page, that allows visitors to “friend” in order to obtain the offer does just fine. Further announcements can simple be blasted to fans, just like email.

In a pinch, Ads-Up has a service that  build splash pages with full conversion  in 48 hours for a one time charge of $75. 

5. Text-messaging

If this is not on the road map, put it on! Allowing your clients to text discounts to an opt-in list of their customer adds more "switch resistance" and gives advertisers a reason to advertise:  Building their opt-in list. Groups of advertisers who text discounts can also be promoted as part of your discount service, adding a new product, but this is a great conversion tool in itself that advertisers want and need, and which sets your company ahead of the for geo-targeted mobile strategies  in the future. Companies in this arena are almost too numerous to name: Shooger and Verve are good places to start. 

6. Targeting 
No, this isn't a conversion tool, but it is a simple and increasingly important technology, and I'll tie it back to conversions at the end of this discussion.  This is one of the biggest values of joining the Yahoo Consortium, since it allows deep behavioral targeting based on what visitors have been viewing. Besides Yahoo, Zag provides simple pop-up boxes for tracking age, gender and zip code. If your local media company does not have one of these targeting devices, you are missing the market.  In a pinch: Use areas of the site that are editorially relevant to create "targetted audiences."  

Combining conversion tracking with targeting gives advertisers what they want, even more valuable, highly targeted buys. Check to see which areas of the site and zip codes conversions are coming from, what time of day and days of the week, and, if you have the capacity, age and gender. Advertisers can - and will - invest more heavily in audience share of these more highely targetted groups.  

Providing a number of ways for customers to contact a business  increases response rates. The above technologies are not new but standard internet processes and  must-have technologies for all local media organizations that aim to build digital sales companies.  Simply linking a banner ad to a web site will not do it. If you have additional vendors to recommend that supply these services, please send an email to alisacromer@gmail.com. 

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

call tracking, lead gen, lead generation, click-to-call, email