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Following on from my post about how to track on page website leads in Google Analytics, this post is here to show you how to tie in any leads via the phone with the callers' activity on your website.

With many businesses that do not have an online shop, the phone is often the biggest source of business but also one of the hardest to track.

Imagine seeing which users called you and finding out which keywords and traffic sources they used to get to your site.

By the end of this post you will know how to get this invaluable data too.

This is one of the areas most lacking in tracking as it has historically been very hard to correlate web activity with phone calls.

However, due to some ingenuity by clever people who know how valuable this data is, we now have the ability to track what source of traffic led to each phone call and even which search engine and keyword the caller used.

The only downside is that there is often a cost for this functionality, but it is well worth paying for in my opinion.

We use Infinity call tracking to gain data about how marketing activity online (and even offline) has led to phone calls. There are other services available to do a similar thing, but for the purposes of this post, I'll focus on my experiences with Infinity.

Phone call data can be integrated with Google Analytics, AdWords and even your CRM to fully track website activity and phone call leads from entry to sale completion.

The possibilities are exciting when you're able to see exactly which keywords led to conversions, the value of those sales and how users who convert via the phone interacted with your website before calling.

It is also very powerful to have this data in AdWords, as Google has realised and is rolling out in the US at the moment. 

How call tracking works

Call tracking for a website works by adding a small amount of code to the page and phone numbers on site. You then have phone numbers available that are rotated and each user sees a different one in the set.

When a call is made the tracking code is activated and tied with the user viewing that number and the results are then fed in to the data portals you set it up with. Cookies are set to ensure the data is kept alongside the entry source so it is all reported together in the portals. 

In addition to the code on the page, any pay per click adverts may need to be tagged with the relevant details to enable these to be passed on to the data portals.

Infinity has been kind enough to provide an excel macro that updates your ads for you, and if you don't have this just export all your ads to a spreadsheet and use the wonderful concatenate function to add all the information you need together.

The quantity of numbers that you will need for your site will vary depending on the volume of traffic that your site receives. You can also ensure that the first seven digits are always the same and only the last four change.

Call tracking can be set up with different types of numbers, including freephone and local. 

Implementation process for call tracking:

  • Organise package and numbers with call tracking provider.
  • Add code round phone numbers on website.
  • Add standard tracking code on every page.
  • Add tags to PPC destination URLs using a macro.
  • Set up goals in Google Analytics for call pass/fails.
  • Import Analytics goals in to AdWords.
  • Set up integration with a CRM or other system.

Tracking phone call leads against unrelated calls

To identify between phone calls that are actual leads and those that do not lead to anything or are on a different topic you have the ability to set a length of call as a goal.

For example, if a call is longer than one minute it might be much more likely to be a lead than anything under one minute. This would then be the time that you choose for a goal to be marked as successful after.

Anything under one minute would be a call fail and any calls over would count as a call pass.

Tracking phone calls as goals in Google Analytics

When a phone call is made the code executes a virtual pageview in Google Analytics and attributes it to the user's data so that the entry source and activity on site can be combined with the phone call.

The virtual pageview is also labelled with call pass or call fail so that you can identify which visitors to your site actually count as leads and which ones do not. It is also beneficial to include goal values for calls so that you can attribute a monetary return with the data. 

The goals can be set up like so:

Setting up call tracking goals in Google Analytics

Analysing prospects in Google Analytics

Now that you have your call data coming in to Google Analytics you can get a good insight in to how many users from each source actually pick up the phone, as well as where they have been on site, where they are based and which channels are resulting in calls.

Here's an example of some data you can get from the goals overview tab if you choose only the relevant goal and click source/medium:

Call tracking goal statistics

However, this doesn't really show you as much as you might want to know. I've created various custom reports to gain more data about phone calls.

The following images are both taken from this report, which if you're logged in to Google Analytics you should be able to save and apply to your profiles in just a couple of clicks, you will just need to update the goals used to the relevant ones to you.

This table shows which mediums led to how many calls and what conversion rate each medium saw for the goal.

call tracking by mediums in Google Analytics

By clicking View > Percentage you can easily see which medium led to what percentage of calls:

call tracking data in Google Analytics

You can create an Advanced Segment for the call goal completion which will then enable you to analyse the callers across all the data. This can be done through the page or goal for the call:

Advanced Segments for call tracking

With this segment turned on you can then look at data such as New vs Returning Visitors, Mobile visits, Landing pages and other core information. 

Integrating phone call data with Google AdWords

Once the goals have been set up in Google Analytics these can be imported in to AdWords as conversions and tracked within the AdWords interface.

This means you don't have to go to a separate portal to find all the information. AdWords accounts where phone calls make the bulk of the business have historically been very hard to optimise as you don't know which keywords and ad groups have led to calls and which haven't.

Now that phone calls can be reported alongside the keywords you will know which ones are not worth investing in and which ones have a strong lead generation.

As I mentioned earlier, Google is bringing out its own call tracking functionality. However the dedicated portal available with external companies that offer call tracking solutions is often more comprehensive than the data you can get from Google.

It also brings all sources together and provides more information about the caller, including phone number, length of call and more.

Offline phone call lead tracking

Call tracking software can also be combined with your offline advertising campaigns by using a dedicated number for that media and recording the calls from this within the portal.

This way you can see the volume of calls from each source in one place and quickly see which marketing method is bringing in the most calls and sales. 

Summary

Combining phone call data from all marketing channels enables you to understand your return from each channel much more easily.

And as long as this post is, it's actually relatively straightforward to set up, especially when the company has a dedicated and helpful support team to help you through this.

Personally, I hate to see businesses relying on the phone for sales but unable to track the source of the calls. Having used this tracking method justification to keep spending thousands of pounds a month on PPC can easily be made. 

Anna Lewis

Published 21 September, 2011 by Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis is a Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai and a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow Anna on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

6 more posts from this author

Comments (17)

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Matt Clarke

Matt Clarke, Ecommerce Director at B2B

Interesting post, Anna. I'd like to introduce something like this to my sites.

One thing we have done, which costs nothing, is to add some additional code to our back-end to track the revenue which arises from telephone sales. When a call centre person handles a telephone order via the back-end, it fires the usual GA e-commerce tracking and then calls _trackEvent and passes some information including the channel (telephone), the staff member's name, and the order total.

From this data we can report on total sales from telephone, total revenue, average telephone order values, and see how well individual staff members are doing at tele-sales.

Tying that up with actual call tracking is the next goal!

over 4 years ago

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Dan Taylor

One of the things that we changed when developing a call tracking solution at a previous job was to move from Goal Tracking to Events for calls.

The reason for this is that using goals requires fake pageviews which makes traffic figures inaccurate - as you can imagine if you call centre is taking hundreds of call a day/week.

Overall good post though :)

over 4 years ago

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Michael Turner

Tracking phone calls via keywords, campaigns and traffic sources and creating phone call goals is relatively simple.

However do you guys know anyway of tracking phone calls against urls? I.e. what page got the most phone calls. Assume my website has the phone number everywhere and dynamical changes per keyword, campaign etc.

over 4 years ago

Jonathan Kay

Jonathan Kay, Managing Director at 120 Feet

Great post Anna - thanks.

I've not heard of Infinity before but have worked with AdInsight, another UK vendor. This is what I wrote about them last Sept, http://www.120feet.com/web-analytics-reporting-gold-tying-a-visit-to-an-inbound-call/

over 4 years ago

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis, Google Analytics Analyst at Koozai

Thanks for the feedback.

@ Matt, that sounds like a handy method you've set up, integrating something like infinity will just top it all off and allow you to see the interaction with the site before the call was made, which we have found very enlightening.

@ Dan, that's a good point, currently the sites we have used it on have high value mid volume calls. If you want to have a report in GA where the traffic is not affected I'd have a profile for all the data and another one to exclude all pageviews generated by calls. Not ideal but could help.

Your method will have benefited from Events being able to be Goals in the new interface too, previously Events weren't as useful as they are now!

@ Michael, the reverse goal path report can help you here, often someone who calls doesn't visit many pages so you can see which key pages each caller visited.

@ Jonathan, thanks, we used to used AdInsight, but actually found we got a lot more insight from Infinity. They might have updated things since we used them, but if you want to compare the two have a read of our review of Infinity here: http://www.koozai.com/blog/search-marketing/infinity-tracking-review-1479/

over 4 years ago

John Braithwaite

John Braithwaite, Managing Director at Ergo Digital

Definitely better than nothing, but can be problematic in a couple of other ways:
1. Phone number recall will be shot to bits, in fact, you don't want them to remember the number (ideally) - but some will, and therefore may affect measurements. Of course you can de-dupe repeat calls, but only on the same number (and what happens if they revisit the site from another source anyway?)
2. We run a site where each advertiser has a phone number which is then automatically 'charged' for a lead. This route will mean that every advertiser would need a suite of numbers to allow the measurements to take place, so it only really works on one-advertiser websites (business sites) and not advertising sites (surely the more likely 'buyer')

There are cuter ways of doing this...

over 4 years ago

Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh, Founder & CEO at Infinity Call Tracking

Thanks Anna,

@ Matt, We have integrated Infinity into many client CRMs so that when the sale happens whether straight away or days later, they can send a call back to our system. We can record the transaction information ie ref, value margin and more.

@ Dan, Yes good point and we will be switching to events in the near future, as soon as the majority of our clients are using GA V5.

@ Michael, as Anna says you can use reverse goal path reports but we can also report on the most common pages that calls are made from within our portal; contact us for more info or a demo.

@ John, to answer a couple of your points:

1. We use the same number ranges so they look familiar to help this. Although our data shows that people use sites like directories and come back to the site and ring; often continue browsing while talking.

2. Your correct every advertiser would need its own number pool, but we implemented a custom solution for a large motor listing client doing this. Be happy to discuss with you in more detail offline.

over 4 years ago

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Ross Fobian, CEO - Co-founder at ResponseTap Limited

@Michael, AdInsight can do this through its own reporting or when configured properly also through Google Analytics. Our solution has a completely integrated web analytics and telecoms switch infrastructure which makes this possible.

@Jonathan, thanks for the mention!

@Anna, you previously used our Classic call tracking product which could not track individual visitors. Our AdInsight Clarity product is a huge leap forward. I am glad you are finding the call tracking data useful!

@John, we handle your first point using various bits of technology and also cater for people switching from one marketing source to another. As with any solution like this it can never be 100% accurate, but it goes a long way to get there. As for your second point you are correct; each advertiser would need a suite of numbers, but there is nothing wrong with this so long as they are being used. It would be interesting to know what you think the ‘cuter’ ways are?

over 4 years ago

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Craig Sullivan

Hi,

We've been doing this on a load of our sites for a while now. We simply generate the numbers ourselves and track from there. And this can sometimes be simpler than using a 3rd party service.

However, if you really want an easy way to get lots of rich data (geo-caller-id, keyword, campaign, offline data) then a 3rd party solution can do a lot of the heavy lifting.

I'm presenting at Jump next week on this whole topic, so here is a list of the products I've looked at and the coverage they offer internationally.

One last thought - the future of all of this stuff is being able to experiment and gain insight. In future, I fully expect to test music, messages, prioritisation of calls, routing, local numbers and the like, with total integration in my analytics package. To me, phone is another channel that is under optimised with businesses and ripe for experimentation.

The ones marked with * are my picks if you're looking:

Mongoose Metrics*
www.mongoosemetrics.com
UK, USA, Canada

Freespee*
www.freespee.com
UK, SE, FI, NO, DK LT, PL, IE, CV, SL, AT, NL, DE, UK

Adinsight*
www.adinsight.co.uk
UK

Infinity tracking*
www.infinity-tracking.com
UK

Optilead*
www.optilead.co.uk
UK

Switchboard free*
www.switchboardfree.co.uk
UK

Ifbyphone*
www.ifbyphone.com
USA

Freshegg*
www.freshegg.co.uk
UK

Jet Interactive*
www.jetinteractive.com.au
AUS

TheCallR*
www.thecallr.com
USA, Canada, UK, IT, FR, BE, ES, NL

Call tracking metrics
www.calltrackingmetrics.com/features
USA

Avanser
www.avanser.com.au
AUS

Hosted Numbers
www.hostednumbers.com
USA

Callcap
www.callcap.com
USA

over 4 years ago

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Juhani Polkko

Thanks Craig for the good overview of supported countries by each provider! I just would like to emphasize that for our part the list includes countries that Freespee has existing business partners in (as we are not in direct relationship with advertisers/SMEs). Technology-wise we cover most of Europe.

We also now have several partners in the U.S. now as well.

Best,
Juhani
@freespee

over 4 years ago

Richard Teahon

Richard Teahon, Freelance writer and SEO at Link-Optimise.com

The trick with a good call tracking system is to ensure it can cut through the jargon that visitor level and keyword level call tracking can produce, and a helpful after sales service for custom report configuration is a must have too.

Nice post.

about 4 years ago

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delacon

Thanks for sharing this kind of infomation I was looking the same and found your post I may be helpful for the latest technology for mobile phones.

over 3 years ago

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Aaron

Thanks Anna. 2013 marks time to bite the bullet and close the loop on lead tracking :) I am starting with Calltrackingmetrics and I love their Google API.

Aaron

over 3 years ago

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Brenden

I have a apartments.com sort of site I am launching and want to be able to track how many phone calls each apartment gets per month through our site. I dont want to pay the high price by ifbyphone for setup, buying numbers, carrying numbers and then paying 7.9 cents per minute after 750. All I want to do is see how many times a number is called. Is this doable?

about 3 years ago

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Eric Lafuente, Founder at Callsmap

Vous êtes Emarchand ou Retailer ?

Vous utilisez plusieurs leviers d'acquisition de trafic Online et Offline?

Choisissez Callsmap pour optimiser vos flux d'appels entrants et identifier quelles sont vos meilleures sources de visiteurs qualifiés !

http://www.callsmap.com/

over 2 years ago

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Katie Jameson, Sr Marketing Manager at ResponseTap

AdInsight has rebranded as ResponseTap. Our Call-based Marketing Automation takes call tracking to another level and amplifies the depth and breadth of data across the end-to-end customer journey creating relevance and insight at every click. The addition of the telephone call to your online metrics lets you see the whole journey, ultimately improving the customer experience and enabling valuable sales attribution back to your marketing spend.

Since rebranding we’ve helped some of our clients:
• Increase online revenue by 30%
• Save 42% of marketing spend by reducing ineffective advertising
• Reduce PPC cost per lead by 80%
• Increase sales only calls by 120%

Take a look for yourselves: Responsetap.com

over 1 year ago

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Stan Wayne, Content Manager at Ringostat

Understanding your customers offline and knowing what makes them take that decision helps create a stronger environment of trust. According to the research at Ringostat intelligent call tracking service, more than half of e-tailers’ transactions are made by phone, reaching 100% for some business models. Inbound phone calls are the huge source of customers and sales, yet underrated. Why does this happen, really?

11 months ago

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