Written by Caroline Cox on Apr 20 , 2022

Not currently using call tracking? Here’s a guide to filling in this attribution gap.

Here, you’ll find:

  • An explanation of call tracking
  • A breakdown of various tracking tiers
  • How tracking can help optimize campaigns
  • The latest call-tracking updates

When it comes to connecting with companies, people want options. 

That’s why most businesses have a phone number, even if most marketing, communications, and customer service happens online. 

And it’s a wise choice, since reports show click-to-call rates are four times better than online conversion rates.

The question is: Are you taking full advantage of all that phone calls have to offer your business? 

As Marketing Land explains, “If your marketing strategy involves driving potential customers to the phone, you could be missing out on important attribution data as well as the best source of first-party customer data.” 

Basically, if you’re not tracking calls, you could be missing a key element in your conversion tracking. Here’s how to set up call tracking for your ads, and why you should.

call tracking for digital marketing

There are various solutions available when it comes to call-tracking options for your business. (Image: Unsplash)

What is call tracking?

Call tracking is the process of gathering information about the phone calls people make to your company. Basic tracking helps you make sure you’re attributing calls to your ads to help optimize campaigns. 

More advanced tracking allows you to accrue data that will tell you more about your prospects and customers. This includes their wants, pain points, frequently asked questions, and more. 

Phone calls can be a key part of your buyer’s journey. Call tracking serves to help bridge the gap between online and offline touch points, giving you a clearer picture of your prospects and customers.

Know your call-tracking options

There are various solutions available when it comes to call-tracking options for your business. You can choose from a variety of softwares and tiers depending on your budget and needs. 

hawksem call on GBP

You can include a “Call” CTA on your company’s Google Business Profile as well. (Image: Google)

Tier 1 tracking

The basic, standard level of call tracking is simply to track phone number clicks on your website. This allows you to properly attribute the click to your campaigns. You can set up this level of call tracking through Google Tag Manager. 

It will give you some basic data about calls to your existing phone number, such as when someone clicks the phone number on your website via their smartphone to call you. 

Tier 2 tracking

The next level involves implementing call tracking into your Google Ads campaigns. At this level, Google will assign you a forwarding phone number. If someone clicks on your ads, the number on your website will route to your Google forwarding number.

This level also offers more sophisticated call data. When you implement Google call tracking through Google Tag Manager, you can set parameters for what counts as a conversion, such as calls only over a certain amount of seconds. 

This way, you’re not counting irrelevant phone calls (like accidental clicks, spam clickers, and quickly unqualified leads) as conversions. 

Pro tip: While Google call tracking is free, the number you’re assigned won’t necessarily be permanently assigned to you. Further down the line, someone could call that number in search of your business and not be able to reach you. 

Tier 3 tracking

If your company has the means to invest in paid call-tracking services, there are a ton of benefits to be found. For one, you’ll be able to purchase a dedicated phone number that won’t be in danger of being changed. 

With call-tracking services, you pay for dedicated tracking phone numbers, including a ZIP code that matches your area. In terms of data, you’re able to record phone calls (the caller is given a heads up, of course). 

You can go back and listen to how customer service was handled and get more information about the callers. These services also allow you to capture customer contact information in the platforms

Top-tier call tracking can often tell you what caused the person to call, what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in, and it can even sync with other programs like Google Analytics, Salesforce, or your preferred customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Pro tip: Think you’ve got tracking covered with your call center? While these centers track things like hold time and client satisfaction, proper call tracking can provide valuable data for marketers that can help optimize and improve campaigns. 

call tracking to enhance paid ads

With the rise of mobile search, it makes sense that Google call-only campaigns would follow suit. (Image: Unsplash)

How call tracking can improve your marketing

Gathering data is only half the battle. After all, what good is all that data if you don’t take the time to analyze and leverage it? 

Call tracking allows you to review calls and pinpoint patterns. What are some common issues customers seem to have? What products or services are they asking about most? 

It can also help you make these calls more efficient by allowing you to personalize and tailor the call experience.

This type of tracking can help maximize ROI by painting a more complete picture of what’s driving people to your business. 

The future of call tracking

In fall 2020, Google began testing a new Google Business Profile feature dubbed “call history.”

According to Search Engine Land, the feature was “designed to help businesses see and respond to missed calls coming from Google Search and Maps.” 

With the rise of mobile search, it makes sense that Google call-only campaigns would follow suit. If you’re a business like a doctor’s office (or if you have a stellar customer service team trained to quickly solve problems), this ad type is worth exploring.

This way, you have the chance to catch someone’s attention and allow them to immediately connect with you, rather than risking them not finding what they’re looking for on your website.

The takeaway

In marketing, the more data you have, the better. If you’re not tracking phone calls on some level, you’re missing out on a key component of your conversion tracking. 

It’s the same idea behind tracking forms on your website. You want to track all ways people can contact you. 

The result: Improved customer service, better insights into why people aren’t converting via phone, help training employees, and a fuller picture of your buyer persona.

This article has been updated and was originally published in November 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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