What is call tracking and how does it work?

Category: Call tracking

Most businesses and marketers measure success based upon a series of digital analytics, such as organic visits, page views, and – obviously – goal conversions.

Only doing this means you might be severely underestimating your leads and enquiries. It’s safe to say we spend the most part of our day on the internet, but not all business is scored online. Many people still pick up the phone, and this is major source of new leads.

Call tracking software tells you which of your marketing efforts are successfully generating calls, and which are failing. Call tracking is also useful for your SEO.

How do you track your inbound calls?

Your company phone number is probably plastered on your website, in magazines, in your Google Ads campaigns – it may even appear on billboard ads.

But how do you know which of these marketing methods are generating the calls to your business? How are you tracking conversions? In case you don’t already know, here’s how call tracking works.

Let’s look at an example problem.

I’ve noticed a damp patch in my home. I don’t want it to get any worse, so I’ll see if I can get an expert in right away. I type a Google search using the keywords “damp problems”:

Damp problems search.

I spot Dr Damp, the first one with a phone number. He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about:

I can either just call him on the listed number – or click through to his website, find out more about his credentials and then call him. Traditionally if I call him from his PPC ad without clicking he won’t know I’ve converted and as a result, he may think his AdWords campaigns aren’t working well and cancel them.

This would be a mistake, because the ads are profitable. He’s making use of AdWords extensions which is good practice, but he can’t see the full ROI if he’s not combining call and conversion tracking for pay per click.

If I do click through and check out his website before calling, he’s got no idea what keywords made me click on his PPC ad and then call him. He can only see what got clicked on – which doesn’t always result in a call and a sale.

Yet there is a way to measure and fully track your marketing.

It’s called call tracking. The concept is simple. You use and track a different telephone number for each of your campaigns. The call tracking software records the number of calls you receive, the keywords used and PPC ads clicked that result in a sale and you get a genuine view on how your campaigns are working.

What does call tracking do?

But how does it do this? Imagine that our Dr Damp is running three marketing campaigns for his site.

  • He’s running an online pay per click campaign that is driving traffic to his website
  • He has paid for an advert in his local newspaper.
  • And he’s also advertising on the side of local buses.

By setting up call tracking he can compare enquiries from all three channels.

Campaign Cost Number of enquiries
Pay per click advertising £1,500 10
Local newspaper £1,000 2
Side of the bus campaign £2,000 0

Call tracking data allows him to see which campaigns are generating conversions. He can even see the time and date of the call; More importantly, he can track the return on investment (ROI) of each marketing channel.

It’s clear from the table that the side-of-the-bus advertising hasn’t been working well. He might want to stop doing that and redirect his spent into pay-per-click advertising instead where he’ll generate more enquiries.

What are the benefits of call tracking?

With call tracking you can monitor which areas of your marketing – digital and offline – are performing well and which areas need improvement.

Call tracking works well for:

  • Organic search engine traffic: you’ll be able to determine which landing pages are generating calls to your business.
  • Pay per click campaigns: you can see which keywords and adverts work best.
  • Digital advertising campaigns: By using a different telephone number on each ad you run, it’s possible to see which display adverts perform best, too.

Alongside this data collation, you’ll be able to review calls, providing you with insight on your company’s customer service. This will highlight improvements that your sales team can make when handling inbound calls.

Call tracking shapes the bigger picture on ROI

Data is only helpful if you’re putting it into action, of course. Call tracking allows you to fill in the gaps of your lead generation. For most businesses, goal conversion rates are generated by Google Analytics and this isn’t a fair comparison if conversions are coming from telephone enquiries.

If you know where exactly conversions originated, you can accurately measure your ROI – and ultimately this is going to help streamline your budget.

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics and content management.

Man and woman using laptops.
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