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Click-to-call lines up leads for maker of billiards products

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Challenge: Long’s Billiards boasted 50 years of experience in the pool table accessory industry, the ninth largest showroom in the U.S. and clients such as AMF Billiards and Brunswick Corp. But the Hampton Roads, Va.-based manufacturer was nearly invisible to search engines, making it difficult to grow its business beyond the immediate area. Not only did it need a more visible site, it also needed one that generated more business.

Solution: Three months ago, Scott Long, CFO at Long’s, contacted Spectrum Web Solutions for help. The year-old Internet marketing consultancy, franchised under WSI, revamped the site with search engine optimization tools, Google analytics and a click-to-call feature that allowed site visitors to contact the company directly.

The site, www.longs-billiards.com, relaunched in October, and traffic has since quadrupled.

“This click-to-call feature that we have put on the Web site has been very successful in generating phone calls,” said Darren Kincaid, president of Spectrum.

The tool function differentiates between calls received from landline phone and those originating on the Web site. It also tracks the page a Web site call comes from as well as the length of those calls. That means Long’s can draw a direct line between its Web site and sales.

The click-to-call feature was originally provided to Kincaid, who resold it, from voice application company Ifbyphone, which has just released a new product that simplifies the click-to-call process. Customers of the Ifbyphone service insert the link www.phone-me-now/your-business-number into their Web site, e-mail or other programs; when clicked, the service connects the online prospect and business over the phone. Ifbyphone is temporarily offering companies that register with a credit card free use for the first six months as well as the first 100 minutes of each month free.

“We do for telephones what Google analytics does for Web sites,” said Irv Shapiro, Ifbyphone CEO and founder.

Results: For Long’s, the ability to quantify the effect of its Web site redesign paid off. Three months ago, most calls were local, but now about 30% originate from outside the immediate area, said Tony King, director of marketing at Long’s. He acknowledged a general increase in calls around this time of year due to the holidays, but attributed a higher volume of national calls to the relaunched site.

Although the new Web site has been active only a month, King predicted major internal changes.

“We’re thinking about cutting back our budget in other media and focusing on the Internet more than we were before,” he said.

The company will soon set up a service center in an area of Virginia where it previously had no reach just to meet demand.

“A year from now, it’s possible that we may be doing as much business there as we are here,” King said.

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