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What Is Website Call Tracking and How Does It Work?

Published by Spinutech on September 4, 2017

What Is Website Call Tracking and How Does It Work?

Are phone calls important to your business? Would it benefit you to know who is calling your business, where they're located, and how they got your phone number? Would you like me to stop asking rhetorical questions?

If you answered yes to at least two of the previous questions, call tracking might be a good fit for you. Let's get straight to it.

What is Call Tracking?

As the name implies, call tracking allows you to track phone calls from your digital marketing efforts. While Google does offer a free call tracking solution by using a call forwarding number with AdWords, the setup is complicated and the features are extremely limited. Most businesses go with a third party call tracking service instead.

At Spinutech we use CallRail. It's easy to set up, intuitive to navigate, and provides detailed source tracking options. All call tracking services operate a little differently from one another, but most will share the features I'm about to cover.

How Does It Work?

Within the third party tracker (e.g. CallRail), we enter the phone number that currently exists on your website, most commonly in the website header, footer, or on the contact page. The tracker then provides a tracking number and snippet of code. Place that bit of code on your website and boom. The previous phone number is replaced with the new tracking phone number.

For example, our phone number is in the footer of our website. With the call tracking code placed, it would rewrite to a tracking number.

Once a call is made the tracking number immediately forwards to the original phone number. Cool, right?

Benefits of Call Tracking

The obvious benefit of call tracking to a business owner or marketing manager is the call details: knowing who called, their location, the duration of the call, etc. All of this and more can be found by logging into the call tracking software.

But the even greater benefit, at least to a PPC Specialist, is the ability to integrate with AdWords and Google Analytics, allowing phone calls to be tracked as conversions. For businesses focused on lead generation, this is huge.

To show just how huge it is, here's a before and after screenshot for an account that wasn't tracking website phone calls as conversions.

Once phone calls were added as conversions, we saw:

  • More than 4x as many conversions
  • A 70% drop in cost per conversion

(Just to be clear, the campaigns themselves didn't improve; adding website phone calls as conversions simply filled in the gaps of previously missing information.

FAQs & Reservations

Our clients frequently have questions and reservations about the use of call tracking. Here are some of the most common talking points.

1. How much does call tracking cost?

It depends. Most call tracking tools start around $30.00 per month. The tracking numbers themselves are often an additional cost, then you have to pay per minute used. Small websites that don't receive a lot of traffic are relatively cheap. Big, high traffic websites can be more expensive.

2. Will the original phone number ALWAYS rewrite to the tracking number?

No, not necessarily. The original phone number will rewrite based on the source(s) you choose to track. If you're only tracking calls from AdWords, the phone number won't rewrite for direct or organic visitors (and visa versa).

3. Can I listen to the phone calls?

Assuming it is legal to record phone calls in your country (I'm looking at you, Australia), in most cases, yes. Keep in mind that you may need to notify the caller depending on the laws in your region.

4. Can you rewrite local phone numbers or do they have to be toll free?

It is possible to rewrite either and replace them with either. There are separate costs associated with each.

5. How is this different from call extensions?

Call extensions are a type of ad extension which show a phone number with your ad. People can then call your business directly without ever clicking through to your website.

What we're talking about here is a phone call made after visiting your website. They're two distinctly separate actions, and they're tracked as two separate conversions.

6. If I have to spend money on call tracking, won't that mean that I have less total budget to spend on AdWords?

Yes, that is correct, but would you buy a puzzle with missing pieces? Call tracking is often a small price to pay for a significantly bigger picture of your digital marketing efforts.

Wrapping Things Up

Call tracking is important. If you haven't already, consider working with an agency to implement website call tracking for your digital marketing efforts. It'll give you a better idea of how your efforts are working, making judgement calls surrounding your advertising budget easier.