Call Tracking: What is it & Why it matters.

A Complete Guide to Tracking Call Conversions

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Call Tracking Guide

Table of Contents

Introduction

With the ever-growing domination of mobile in our everyday life, most would expect that phone calls are gradually led to death. This way of thinking has urged businesses and marketers to put all their efforts- and investments must say- to tracking solely online customer journeys.

But the truth is that phone calls aren’t dying. Still here!

While counter-intuitive, prospective customers prefer to turn to their dialpads to address their questions when in the process of searching a product or service, instead of dealing with complicated inquiry forms. Each of these inbound calls that land to a business’s call center, is tied with such significant information, that definitely no business should ignore.

So, phone calls matter… A lot actually!

And the only way to tap into their importance is simply by including them in the data you track to assess your marketing performance. Here you will learn all you need to know about Call Tracking, the service that many businesses around the globe use to measure and optimize their phone conversions.

Ready for a deep dive?

What is Call Tracking & Call Analytics?

Call Tracking is the method that allows you to track marketing activities that drive calls to your business. This is done by pairing what we call a phone tracking number, with a source you wish to track i.e. Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Newsletters, Offline ads, etc. These numbers forward calls to your business, with no change in the process whatsoever, allowing you to even record calls or play whispers to agents prior to answering the call.

Marketing Sources to track inbound calls from
Marketing Sources

Call Analytics is the method to collect, analyze, and report the call data that is tracked by a call tracking software. Its value for marketers and sales teams is major since it provides very significant customer insights with regard to marketing performance that businesses can deploy to optimize the Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) of their campaigns and drive more quality phone leads and conversions. 

Static vs Dynamic Call Tracking

When you want to track phone calls from an advertising channel, where the phone is displayed in a static way, then we use Static Call Tracking. For example, let’s say we want to track inbound calls from a Facebook post or a print ad. We assign a different tracking number to each of them and if the number is dialed, we receive information about the source of the call. The tracking number that is displayed in both ads is static.

Static Call Tracking
Example of Static Call Tracking

On the other hand, Dynamic Call Tracking based on Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) Technology, is the method of displaying unique phone numbers on a website, based on a set of predefined rules according to the sources you wish to track. By adding a DNI script on your website, tracking numbers dynamically swap the number on your website and report the source of each call. Simply put, a visitor who clicked on a Google Ad will view a different number than a visitor who engaged organically.

In any case, the customer’s experience is completely seamless. They will interact with these tracking numbers, in the same way as they do with your existing phone number.

Local & Toll-free Tracking Numbers

Local Call Tracking Numbers are the most suitable choice in case you want to attract local customers. Many people prefer to purchase products or services from their local market. So, selecting a tracking number with a familiar prefix will give your business a head start.

Toll-Free Call Tracking Numbers, on the other hand, are free for your customers. They are preferred to demonstrate a national or a global perspective for your business, without charging your customers with the hefty price tag of long-distance fees.

Local and Toll Free Tracking Numbers
Local and Toll Free Tracking Numbers

How many numbers do I need?

The answer to this question depends on which mediums you want to measure and to what extent. If, for example, you want to track only the broad marketing channels such as Google Ads, Facebook Advertising, or LinkedIn you may only need a relatively small pool of numbers.

But supposing you want to track at a more granular level, looking at particular ad groups and campaigns, then you should use enough phone numbers to assign a unique identifier for each. For keyword-level tracking, you will need to base the size of the pool on the maximum number of concurrent visitors from Google Ads on your website.

In Google Analytics navigate to “Audience – Overview”, select hourly from the drop-down on the right side, Users from the drop-down on the left side and Segment with paid traffic only. From this report you should note the peak and the average session duration.  If for instance your peak is 200 users and the average session duration is 3 minutes the pool of tracking numbers needed is 200/(60/3) = 10 tracking numbers.

Estimate pool of tracking numbers
Estimate pool of tracking numbers

When a visitor arrives on your website, they will see a number from the pool. This number is uniquely assigned to that visitor for the duration of their session.  When the visitor is no longer active, the number is returned to the pool so it can be used by another visitor. When a call is received, your call tracking software knows which user viewed the number and can attribute the call to the user’s session. Along with the session you can attribute the call back to the campaign or search keyword that generated the call.

5 Reasons Why Call Tracking Matters

In order to get an accurate image of your marketing performance across different channels, you need to bridge the gap between online and offline worlds. To do so, you need to have a call tracking software in place. Knowing what inspires callers to reach a business with an intent to buy helps connect the dots and gain a clear understanding of the customer touch-points all the way across the sales funnel.

Enhance Marketing ROI

A Call Tracking software is a powerful attribution tool that helps businesses and marketers learn which ads, keywords, or campaigns drive the most quality leads and sales for them or their clients. Having a clear perception of what works well, they can laser-focus their efforts to optimize campaigns for more conversions, boosting marketing ROI. This can be a game-changer for every business, leading to a much better campaign and budget management, reducing customer acquisition costs, and the risks lying in the decision-making process.

In case you are running Google Ads for your business or on behalf of your clients, call tracking can reveal leads and sales at the keyword level. This means that a call tracking software can tie calls back to the keywords that a user clicked before they entered your website, providing also insights on campaigns, ad groups, landing pages, affinity groups, etc. Such information allows you to re-allocate your budget to those keywords that inspire customers to click and weed out the ones that don’t perform well, minimizing the risk of budget wastes. 

At this point, it should be mentioned that Google offers a free call tracking service, which offers tracking at the keyword level and it’s available only for Google Ads users. To learn more about its benefits and limitations click here.

Understand the Customer Journey

Mapping the customer journey is one of the biggest challenges for today’s marketers and businesses since they have to bridge the gap between online and offline customer interactions. Knowing only part of the customer journey is definitely not accurate and may result in misguided marketing actions. This means that marketers shouldn’t focus their efforts online, but also measure the impact of phone calls to the sales journey, as well.

This is the only way to get an omnichannel view of marketing performance and optimize your strategy based on them. Most call tracking software platforms integrate with CRM tools, such as Salesforce, enabling businesses to capture and store all the information about their customers to leverage them.  

Online & Offline Customer Interactions through the Sales Funnel
Online & Offline Customer Interactions

Improve Customer Experience

Customer Experience is a focal point and a critical success factor for every business. Meeting customer expectations and promoting seamless phone interactions through the sales journey boosts the perception of the brand and increases the propensity to turn callers into recurring customers. Call tracking can lend a helping hand on this.

Firstly, it helps find your target audience thanks to advanced demographic insights. Once you know it, you can then A/ B test to find out what resonates best with them and adjust your marketing activity so that your brand speaks their language. Secondly, following the customer journey across the funnel, you can map the path a customer followed prior to calling your business and you can tailor your conversations with them offering more personalized customer experiences.

By integrating a call tracking software with your CRM tool or other marketing automation systems, you provide your sales team with instant information about the caller (name, location, call history, etc.) so that they can personalize their interactions with them.

CRM Call History
CRM Call History

Furthermore, call tracking offers call recordings and transcriptions of the calls to monitor your call agents’ conversations with customers, train them when you detect that there is room for improvement and finally assess the effectiveness of certain call scripts you use over others to increase conversion rates.

Prove Value to Clients

Undoubtedly, the No1 priority for agencies and marketers is to prove the real value of their work to their clients. In case you’re a marketer you know this very well. Also, you should know how difficult it is to achieve this, unless you have a call tracking software in place.

Call tracking can be of great help proving the impact of your work and quantifying the contribution towards your clients’ businesses. This way, you can receive credit for leads or revenue they generate from the callers you bring in and finally keep your clients happy- which is the case.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you are running a Google Ads campaign for a sportswear brand. Prospective customers click on your ads and enter the brand’s website. Some of them find what they are looking for and click the “add to cart” button. Some others want to ask some questions to a sales representative before they proceed with the order. They close their browser and call the business. In this case, your Google Analytics will record users that bounced, while the truth is they are qualified leads that most probably completed the purchase over the phone.

In case you don’t have a call tracking software in place, the signals you get as a marketer are that your campaigns are under performing, which is not true. But if you do use call tracking, you know exactly what performs well or not and you don’t run the risk to leave your leads and conversions unattributed.

Comparing Month to Month Call Performance
Comparing Month to Month Call Performance

Eliminate Unanswered Calls

It goes without saying that prospective customers reaching a business over the phone want their questions answered asap. You can imagine how disappointing it is to put them on hold or even fail to connect with them due to busy phone lines. If such happens, you have a few chances to make up for and call customers back the soonest possible. Otherwise, you run the risk to steer them to your competitors.

Lost Callers per Hour
Report on Lost Callers per Hour

No business can afford to lose prospects, thus such situations should be avoided by any means. The good news is that a call tracking software can help with this as well. This is done by sending real-time notifications (voicemail or email) for every lost call, so that call agents can take action as soon as they are available. In addition to this, most call analytics reports showcase peak hours and days allowing businesses to better organize shifts in order for the business to work at full capacity when needed. This way, incoming calls won’t be left unattended. 

10 Industries that Need it the Most

Call Tracking is nice to have for some businesses, but for some others it’s simply essential. These are businesses with complex or high-ticket products and services, that most of the times involve phone calls during the sales process. Here are 10 industries that need call tracking the most:

Marketing Agencies – Digital Marketers

As stated above, every agency and marketer is struggling to prove value to their clients. But to do so, they need to track every online and offline interaction their clients’ businesses have with customers. Tracking purely online conversions may provide a skewed view in terms of marketing performance and subsequently lead to wrong marketing decisions.

This is why every marketer should have a call tracking software in their marketing stack. To measure inbound calls, attribute them to the marketing activities driving them and optimize their efforts and budget to bring more customers and sales.  No matter how big or small the agency, call tracking helps deliver actionable insights to clients and at the same time reduce their customer acquisition costs.

Automotive

Automotive Shoppers

Nobody buys a car over the phone, for sure. But phone calls still play a critical role at some point in the automotive sales funnel. Maybe research is done online in the first place, but automotive shoppers prefer scheduling appointments over the phone as a next step in the process, instead of completing an inquiry form. And here lies a significant opportunity for every car dealership: To convert a phone lead into an appointment and finally close the deal. In order to increase phone leads and sales similarly, every dealership needs to have a call tracking software in place.

For the industry, inbound calls are probably the most effective and valuable lead source and should be measured to get accurate performance insights. Besides, bridging the gap between online and offline interactions, helps automotive businesses facilitate the customer journey facing a higher propensity to increase sales. 

Travel & Hospitality

Travelers

Room service is not the only thing keeping hotel front desk staff busy… It’s new, potential customers as well! When looking to book a room, after the standard Google search, someone will next call to check the availability. And call tracking is the only advanced way for the hotelier to figure out which source generated the call. Tour operators, car rentals, retreats, and spas all rely heavily on phone bookings.

This is why tracking calls is imperative for improving website conversions and optimizing advertising efforts. In any other case, travel businesses are flying blind and probably wasting budget on marketing activities that do not convert. Moreover, call tracking empowers businesses to craft their interactions with customers and offer personalized experiences. As Alex Shashou, Alice co-founder and President,  states “No hotel guest is the same, which is why, above all else, hoteliers must perfect the practice of personalization and deliver tailored experiences to every single guest.”

Education

Enrolling in a school is by all means a decision that requires a lot of research and consideration. Prospective students researching for a program often want to reach out to a human in order to quickly have their questions answered and to qualify their next school. For training and educational institutions, measuring the return on ad spend without a call attribution solution becomes nearly impossible. But in case they have a call tracking and analytics system in place, they can gain insights and adapt their strategy to generate more qualified leads and enrollments for their educational institutions.

Healthcare Practitioners

The world wide web might have changed the way people find a healthcare provider, but still what remains the same is the way they make an appointment: they pick up their phones and call. Be it a dentist, plastic surgeon, or psychologist, getting new patients to reach your practice is hard, and increasing competition further challenges how healthcare practitioners stand out.

As more of them turn to digital marketing to raise awareness for their healthcare services, a call tracking, and analytics solution is a must for getting the most out of every campaign, reducing the cost of acquiring new patients, and excelling in the interactions with them.

Legal Services

Calls to lawyers are still one of the main ways people will initiate the process of finding legal help and unlike online contact forms, they can’t be measured if there isn’t a call tracking software in place. Understanding which campaigns are performing best driving calls to a specific law firm is some piece of knowledge that should be taken into account in order to increase appointments and avoid wasting budget in a niche that records high advertising costs. Finally, monitoring conversations through call recordings and transcriptions, you can spot weaknesses in communication and train your representatives to provide better customer service.

Financial Services

Financial products are some of the most complicated to decide on and finally purchase. Often times potential shoppers are left with more questions than answers and it comes as no surprise that the phone plays a critical role when consumers are in search of a mortgage, credit, insurance, or any other financial product. A call tracking software provides important customer insights to optimize marketing performance, but also excel at customer experience, training call agents, and providing more personalized customer services.

Real Estate

Real estate businesses rely heavily on phone calls, observing most of the times higher conversion rates against any other digital touchpoints. Whether at the top of the funnel or a little deeper, people in search of a home or business premises need to talk to a human and they prefer to turn to their dialpad to do so. This is why every real estate business that invests money in marketing activities among others should establish a call tracking software and increase its sales revenue.

Home Services

When a roof starts to leak or hot water stops running nobody waits to get help. They look for a local roofer or plumber to give them a call. Phone calls are highly involved in home improvement services. Taking into account that the majority of such businesses run Google Ads campaigns to reach new customers, a call tracking software can reveal the best performing keywords that drive prospective customers to call. Who wouldn’t tap into such insights to increase their customer base?

Home Services
Home Services with Click-to-Call option

Listings

For brands running listing, directory, and marketplace services, showing customers how many phone leads were generated is fundamental in accurately proving the return on their investment. In a sense, this helps respective businesses foster long-term and most importantly win-win relationships with their clients.

Unless your business is among the aforementioned industries but it does receive a considerable amount of phone leads, then establishing a call tracking software should be 1 of your top priorities. This will help you marketing-wise, pinpointing your most effective campaigns, but also will help you improve your customer service through call recordings and transcriptions of your inbound calls. 

Getting Started with Call Tracking

Call Tracking can really make a difference for businesses that rely on phone calls. However, to make the most of its advantages, you need to choose the proper solution that combines all the features and add-ons you need. Below we list the most significant features you should look for while qualifying call tracking service providers. 

5 Essential Features to look for in a Call Tracking Software

Global Call Tracking: First and foremost, you need to make sure that the service providers in your list offer toll-free and local tracking numbers for the country or region you are running your marketing campaigns. In general, there are software providers that offer a pool of local and toll-free numbers for many countries around the globe. You simply have to cross-check that your country/region is on their list.

Dynamic Numbers: Make sure that your call tracking software utilizes Dynamic Number Insertion Technology. This way, it can dynamically swap your business phone number with tracking numbers on your website and reveal the keyword, landing page, campaign, or any other source that inspired the caller to pick up the phone and call your business.

Reports & Analytics: Call Analytics reports are the be-all and end-all for every call tracking and analytics software, helping businesses unveil significant customer insights that should be taken into account while planning your advertising strategy. You have to make sure that the call tracking platform you select certainly includes acquisition and behavioral reports. Acquisition reports dictate your most effective marketing campaigns that drive valuable phone leads, while the behavioral reports reveal essential information for your target audience (demographics etc.).

Integrations: Integrations with other apps and tools (Hubspot, Salesforce, Zapier, etc.) are another point you should pay attention to while assessing a call tracking software. A call tracking software that sends call data to your CRM helps you map your customers’ online and offline journeys and adjust your marketing strategy in order to convert them more easily. Therefore, make sure that the tool you use integrates with the call tracking software you choose.

Call Tracking Add-ons
Call Tracking Add-ons

Add-ons: Call add-ons can really boost your call tracking setup, thus you shouldn’t disregard them. They are really helpful in the operational aspect of your business preparing call agents, routing calls to the proper sales representatives, and monitoring conversations so that you provide an enhanced experience to the customers reaching your business by phone. The most useful add-ons are call greetings, call recordings, whispers, transcriptions, voicemail, and call surveys.  

How Call Tracking Works

Call tracking works by assigning unique tracking numbers to those specific marketing assets you want to track call activity from. These tracking numbers can be placed in a static or a dynamic way: 

Static Tracking: In Static Call Tracking, you can generate unique tracking numbers from a call tracking solution and place them directly to the marketing sources (print ads, newsletters, Facebook posts, etc.) you want to measure in terms of inbound calls.

Dynamic Tracking: Dynamic Tracking works by placing a tracking script on your website, so that every time a user visits your web property, the code replaces the phone number that is displayed with the respective tracking numbers assigned to specific marketing sources. These numbers forward- seamlessly for the user- calls to your business and capture call data, providing detailed analytics about the calls.

Dynamic Call Tracking
Dynamic Call Tracking

How Easy it is to set up Call Tracking

If you feel uncertain about setting up a call tracking software on your own, you shouldn’t worry at all. Simply because most of the call tracking platforms available are designed in such a way that no advanced technical knowledge is required. In fact, a call tracking account can be set up and start receiving calls in a few minutes.

To facilitate the setup process in terms of adding the tracking code to a website property, the majority of call tracking service providers offer integrations with WordPress and Tag Manager.

WordPress – Using a WordPress call tracking plugin, you can set up your account quickly and dynamically swap your site’s phone number with the tracking numbers you have purchased.

Wordpress Plugin
WordPress Plugin

Tag Manager – Find your provider’s call tracking template at Google Tag Manager Community Template Gallery and set up your account in minutes to deploy dynamic call tracking on your website.

Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager

The Benefits of signing up to a Call Tracking Platform

Reading all these, a person with programming skills might think: “How difficult is it to create my own call tracking software?”

Well, the truth is it’s possible, yet not cost-effective to implement.

In case you are considering an option like this, you should think twice. Here are the 2 main reasons why you should turn to an available-in-the-market call tracking platform rather than developing your own call tracking tool:

Money & Time Saver: Time is money and money is power. Creating your own call tracking solution from scratch is a task that requires a lot of time, budget, and of course effort to get accomplished. On the other hand, there are quite many call tracking platforms in the market for you to choose based on your business needs and budget, that embarking on a project like this, is definitely a waste of resources.

Easy Setup Process: As previously mentioned, most of the call tracking platforms out there are really easy to set up and use. Literally, there are platforms that can start tracking calls within a few minutes. This way, you don’t need to ask for quotes or get guidance in order to finish a complicated setup process.

Call Tracking Pricing – 3 Points to Consider

Pricing is an important factor in the process of choosing a call tracking service provider. You have to make sure that you get all the features you need without having to pay a fortune for them. In the market, there are affordable and efficient call tracking solutions to measure your call activity. You only need to look for them. Moreover, what you should have in mind is that call tracking pricing is heavily dependent on the country where you are seeking to track calls.

For the majority of call tracking service providers, pricing comprises of the following costs:

Base Fee: As a general rule, call tracking SaaS companies offer different pricing plan options, scaling on business needs. Typically, there are plans for small businesses with modest needs in terms of features and add-ons, for businesses with more advanced requirements and for large enterprises that may need even custom solutions. Depending on the category your business belongs to and to what extent you want to deploy call tracking, you choose the most appropriate plan. According to your selected plan, you will be billed with a base fee on a monthly basis. Flat fees typically range from $15 to $250.

Cost per Τracking Νumber: This cost depends on the quantity of tracking numbers a business will use, according to which channels and to what extent (source or session-based insights) wants to track inbound phone calls. Additionally, costs per tracking number are dependent on the country or region you want to track call performance. In general and on a global scale, tracking numbers vary between $1 to $7.

Cost per Μinute: There is a usage fee that is calculated based on rates that are charged per minute (for the region of your choice), multiplied by the volume of incoming calls your business gets. Generally, cost per minute talked comes at a range of $0.01 to $0.50. However, apart from the region or country, one more key differentiator in call rates charged is the destination a call is routed. Normally, inbound calls forwarded to landlines cost less than those routed to mobile destinations.

On the other hand, there are call tracking platforms, like Nimbata, that charge per answered call, not per minute talked. Taking into account that a typical call to a business for information on a product or service will last at least 2-3 minutes, pay per answered call might be the most beneficial pricing option. In any case, once you know the average duration of the calls reaching your business, you can evaluate whether pay per minute talked or answered call is the most suitable pricing option for you.

Call Analytics Reports

Real-time call analytics reports allow you to evaluate your marketing performance on the spot and quickly adjust your strategy and budget to increase your conversion rates. Most call tracking platforms provide various reports – each conveying different but meaningful insights. It all depends on what you’re looking to do with the data. A few of the more common reports may include:

Source-Based – Similar to how GA documents views or clicks, such reports would highlight how many calls are resulting from organic search, PPC campaigns, social media, etc. These come in handy when trying to understand what drives calls to your business at the aggregate level.

Session-Based – Taking source-level data a bit deeper, these reports begin to investigate specific activities leading to calls. Session-based activities can include specific keywords, campaigns, creatives, device types, or even landing pages. They are a great tool for optimizing marketing spend.

Call Analytics Dashboard

Caller – These reports are useful in understanding who is calling you. They allow you to gain visibility on how many new (vs. repeat) callers reach your business every day, on their geography, caller-id prefix, and more.

Calls – Understanding the dynamics of your call center or agents is also important. Such reports can help you examine agent performance with respect to who hung-up first, call duration, the best day of the week, and optimal times of the day.

Most call tracking platforms allow users to export call data in excel and CSV format in order to create their own, custom reports. If you aren’t keen on this choice, you can grant customers or team members view-only access to your account and share with them important caller insights. Simple as that! 

Integrations

As stated above, call tracking integrations can really make your business life much easier, sending call data to the CRM or marketing automation tools you utilize to monitor performance. In other words, you don’t need to sign in to your call tracking account, but find all the information stored in your favorite tools. This is why you should pay extra attention when in the process of choosing a call tracking platform. To make sure that the tools you deploy are in the list of your call tracking provider.

Here is a list with the essential and most common integrations marketers are seeking for:

Google Analytics – Each time a call is placed under your call tracking account, the platform sends an event in your Google Analytics account. 

Google Analytics Integration
Google Analytics Integration

Google Ads – Call data are sent to your Google Ads account to help you attribute call conversions back to keywords, campaigns, or ad groups.

Google Ads Integration
Google Ads Integration

Google Sheets – All the inbound calls your tracking numbers receive are pushed in real-time to the Google Sheet of your preference.

Google Sheets Integration
Google Sheets Integration

Facebook – An easy way to monitor your call conversions from Facebook campaigns and view them directly in your Facebook Ads Manager.

Facebook Ads integration
Facebook Integration

Hubspot – Identify which marketing campaigns are inspiring prospects to pick up the phone and act. Create new contacts to your Hubspot account every time a call event is recorded and tie them with all their respective tracking details.

Hubspot Integration
Hubspot Integration

Salesforce – Sync your call activity automatically and view all information directly within your Salesforce dashboard.

Salesforce Integration
Salesforce Integration

Zapier – Integrate your call tracking account with more than 2.000 web applications and send data to your marketing tools.

Zapier Integration
Zapier Integration

Bing Ads – Keep track of your pay-per-click ad campaigns, drawing insights on specific ad groups and keywords that inspired customers to call your business.

Bing Ads Integration
Bing Ads Integration

The Bottom Line

Even in the digital era, many businesses own part of their sales revenues to phone calls. If part of your customers starts their sales journey online and ends to order over the phone, a call tracking software will ensure that you don’t waste budget and resources on marketing activities that don’t resonate with your target audience. Now you know what to do! 

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