Tracking Offline Marketing ROI using Virtual Numbers

January 8, 2020

For businesses, understanding the ROI of different marketing channels is crucial. They inevitably need this data in identifying the best performing campaigns, audience, and channels. But tracking marketing ROI is difficult for certain channels like print ads, radio ads, etc. This is why companies are investing more in digital ads rather than traditional advertising.

Does it mean that companies should totally give up on offline channels? No, of course not. These channels still work great for organizations especially when it comes to awareness and lead generation.

But how do you measure the effectiveness of a billboard or a radio ad?

Marketers often assume certain data metrics when it comes to outdoor advertising. However, the authenticity of this data cannot be trusted. While there are different ways to calculate the marketing ROI, today, virtual numbers are by far the best way to track the effectiveness of your offline campaigns.

What is a virtual number and how does it work?

You can consider virtual number as a normal phone number but with superpowers. They don’t require a physical phone line or a device for communication. You can program, route and track calls over the internet.

To get started you can purchase a virtual number from a cloud telephony provider like Exotel. The setup process will only take a couple of minutes. You can set up a custom call flow by adding a greeting and IVR input.

Are you still curious how virtual numbers can help you track marketing ROI? This is exactly what we cover in the latter part of this article. The aim is to use virtual numbers instead of mobile numbers as a CTA for inquires, app installs, registrations and more. To make it clear, let’s look at three different examples.

Drive app installs

Let’s assume your goal is to drive application installs. While adding a “Play store” button on a billboard advertisement might influence people to install the application, it’s clearly not the best experience.

Wouldn’t it be better if they receive a direct installation link? Using missed calls can do just that, and be a great way of driving application installs.

Let’s look at how it can be done –

  • First, use a virtual number as the CTA to download the application. 
  • When the customer gives a missed call on the number, an SMS is triggered.
  • The SMS contains a direct link to the application. Users can click the link to download the application. 

This makes for a better user experience as it removes the need for multiple steps. You can also use a similar approach for radio advertisements and other print advertisements. 

Generate leads

Are you setting up a booth in a national event? Or promoting your service through a billboard advertisement? You can easily leverage a virtual number to streamline your lead generation process

Instead of using multiple CTA’s you can use – 

  • You can use a missed call campaign to generate leads. Interested people can give a missed call to show interest in a certain product. As soon as the SMS is triggered, the contact details are assigned to an agent who then calls up the lead at a suitable time. 
  • Instead of a missed call, you can connect the person directly to an agent. This will increase the chances of conversion. Incase of agent unavailability, an SMS can be triggered saying “Our agents will contact you in some time”.


It’s incredibly hard to attract good talent. Hence a lot of the big companies are utilizing outdoor campaigns for recruitment. The same is true for attracting talent for blue-collar jobs like delivery executives. 

Organizations can easily use virtual numbers to show candidate-relevant jobs. A simple way of doing this is by – 

  • When candidates call the virtual number an IVR is played out. The IVR contains different requirements for the job. Depending upon the answers an SMS is triggered.
  • The SMS contains further details including the time, location of the interview, etc.

Best practices

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when using virtual numbers for tracking ROI :

  • Whenever you purchase a virtual number, make sure to select a number that is easy to remember. This increases the chances of conversion as people tend to remember and associate the number with your brand.
  • If you’re running different campaigns, I’d recommend you use unique virtual numbers. This will help you understand the performance of different campaigns or channels.
  • Make sure you personalize the calls by adding a greeting at the beginning of the call. Also to handle large volumes of calls effectively, ensure that call waiting is enabled. 
  • Apart from tracking the volume of calls coming in, ensure you create a sheet that you can utilize to find the number of conversions per campaign using the call data.


It’s very clear that tracking the ROI of outdoor campaigns is incredibly hard. But virtual numbers make it very easy to measure the effectiveness of an offline campaign. The simplicity of a call easily beats other forms of lead generation. 


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Himanshu Gupta
Written By
Himanshu is part of the content team at Exotel. He’s passionate about marketing, growth hacking & reading growth stories.

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