The 5 W’s of Call Tracking


R.O.I. – three small letters that can make or break any marketing plan, strategy or even a professional. When it comes to investing in any type of marketing, figuring out what, if any, return your investment has is crucial to being able to sleep well at night. Whether its online efforts such as paid search, banner advertising, email, social or organic search or offline efforts such as print advertising, TV, radio or direct mail, knowing what avenues are truly converting into leads/sales/business is crucial to building a successful strategy. In this post, we will look at both the values of tracking phone calls as well as some great tools available to make this process as efficient as possible.


Call tracking can come in various forms and, like most Analytics programs, allows you to track the source and origin on all calls coming into your business. Both adwords-ad-exampleGoogle and Bing’s paid advertising platforms offer the simplest form of call tracking within their platforms. Call Extensions as they are referred to, allow you to add a phone number (or multiple numbers) to any of your ads and use either a Google or Bing forwarding number to track which ads and search terms generate calls to your business. This will help you better understand the full benefit of traffic driven to your business through the medium you are using.

While this feature works well, it does have limitations. For example, if you are a local business, Google’s platform does not yet have local specific tracking numbers. What this means is that if you use one of their forwarding numbers, your ad will be listed with a toll-free (800) or (888) number. In addition, with either of these platforms, you can only track calls that come directly from a paid search campaign. Fortunately, there are multiple programs available that allow you to provide tracking numbers for all of your marketing platforms. We will discuss these programs in more detail later in this post.




This answer is really pretty simple – just about everyone. For some companies tracking phone calls is a no-brainer. If you are a local, service oriented company (i.e. plumber, roofer, carpet cleaner), phone calls produce the majority of your leads and business, so knowing what avenues produce the most calls is crucial and should play a role in your decision of where to invest marketing dollars.

At the same time, even companies whose main source of revenue/sales is online transactions, there are still a percentage of people who will call in for more information, to ask specific questions or even to make over-the-phone purchases due to concerns with online security. Being able to track these sales and calls allows you to have a more true representation of what marketing efforts are producing a return.


With the right program, call tracking can be used for just about every effort you employ. Running a display campaign? Many of today’s programs provide an easy to implement tracking script that will provide a dynamic number insertion for visitors coming to your website from any online channel. In addition, many of them offer offline options and will provide you with unique numbers that can be used for offline channels. This will allow you to get a detailed and granular look at what efforts are producing calls.


Just like any tracking system, the ideal time to implement call tracking is at the beginning of a new campaign. But, it’s never too late to get started. Having as much data and information as possible helps you make the best decisions and properly perform A/B testing for any changes you may make. Even if you are not using different platforms, having a program in place allows you easy access to a wide number of unique tracking numbers as you begin testing additional avenues.


Why not?? Seriously, being able to know what avenues are producing results for your business is crucial to continued growth.


Although this isn’t technically a “W”, we couldn’t just tell you about this great technology and not share details on how to implement it and put it to use. Below are examples of both the paid platform call tracking as well as one specific call tracking program to help you get started:

AdWords Click to Call:

Installing Click to Call for AdWords is simple. It just takes a few clicks and the numbers are added to adwords-logothe ads within the same day. Just follow these easy instructions:

Step 1: Inside the AdWords platform,

Call extensions are set at the Campaign level so first choose the Campaign you would like to add Call Extensions to. .

Step 2: Choose Ad Extensions and then “View: Call extensions” under the drop down menu.


Step 3: Click the red button labeled “+ EXTENSION”.


Step 4: Click the “+New phone number” button located at the bottom of the selection box.



Step 5: In the pop-up box, add the main phone number you use for your business and select the “A Google forwarding phone number…” option. This is not required, but without it phone call conversions will not be tracked in the system. Google will automatically create a conversion for you in the system so there is no need to do anything additional.



Step 6: Once the Call Extension has been created, it will automatically be included with this campaign. You can always click the pencil icon next to the extension to edit it. This call number is now accessible to all campaigns. Keep in mind that changes made to an extension reflect in all campaigns using that extension.



That’s it! You are now ready to start tracking phone call conversions in AdWords.


While there are many great call tracking programs on the market, we have selected CallRail to use for callrail-logothis example. Their dashboard and interface are easy to use and we have found the reporting to be clear and quite accurate. The platform also offers the option of recording calls should you desire to do so.

Setting up call tracking with a remote program will take a little more work and knowledge of your website (for online use), but it will be well worth the time and investment.

To begin, you will need to setup an account with CallRail by viewing their Pricing and Options page. Basic accounts start at approx. $30/month and they offer a 14-Day free trial period.

Once your account is setup, the system will walk you through each of the individual options. We will not provide detail on every option, but will show one option so you can see the benefits and features it offers. For this example, we will use the Keyword Pool option which offers the greatest range of tracking.

Step 1: Once you have an account setup, login and go to the My Account section. To start, select “Create a New Company”:


Step 2: Once your company is created, you need to set up your first number. Choose the “Create a Phone Number” button.


Step 3: For this particular example we are going to use a Keyword Pool option, so you will select the following in the setup process:

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The provision of tracking numbers will vary based on the largest estimated number of unique visitors that will be on your site within any given hour (note that the number of visitors you choose will affect your overall monthly cost).



While you can specify campaigns with each number, we are using the Track all website visitors’ option for this example.



For this next screen, you can choose to either use local numbers specific to your area code or use toll-free numbers (note that toll-free numbers do incur an additional charge).




That’s it! Now your numbers are set and all you need to do is add the CallRail tracking script to any applicable pages on your website and you are ready to start tracking your phone calls. When you are finished creating the phone numbers, you will see the following message:


Follow the instructions in the link and the code will be added to your site that will dynamically create tracking numbers for all website visitors based on their source of entry.

When all is said and done, marketing is simply about successfully investing time, money and resources to drive business. Understanding how all of your efforts are contributing to your business can help set you apart from the pack. Being able to track how each strategy is driving business will allow you to leverage those platforms to drive more sales and business. Here at CM, we’re pros at figuring out what works best to optimize your sales, and setting up call tracking. Let us help.