Google is very good at tracking a lot of valuable information for a website, but a robust modern business includes channels beyond a simple web score. A good sales funnel includes other means of contact, up to and including phone calls.
How do you know where those calls come from? Asking your sales team to ask potential customers where they found your phone number could be needlessly distracting, and maintaining different phone numbers for different marketing channels gets expensive. Imagine trying to track different phone numbers for different PPC ad variations.
Thankfully, Google Ads includes call tracking, once you configure it. It's actually quite simple in its execution. You have a phone number, either in your ads directly or on your website, tagged with a Google call extension. When a customer views your ads — or clicks through them to your website — the phone number they see is a Google forwarding number. When the user calls this number, their information is tracked and their call is forwarded to your business number, to be answered by your sales team.
There are two different ways to set up Google call tracking. One applies to your website and works when users click through Google Ads. The other applies directly to Google Ads, where the goal conversion is a phone call.
Before You Begin
Before you can set up call conversion tracking, you first need to have a website for your business, a business phone line, and a Google Ads account, as well as Google Analytics installed on your site. You will also need to set up at least one Google call extension.
Additionally, call extensions and call tracking are only available in specific countries. Different countries have different number formats and different costs. Directions for setting up a call extension can be found here.
There are a few options to consider. When you create a new call extension, you will need to enter your business phone number. You can turn on call reporting and conversion counting in this step, and you can choose if you want to optimize your call tracking for mobile or not. Additionally, you can track calls based on a daytime schedule if you like. How you configure all of this depends on your specific business setup.
Setting Up A Call Conversion Action
If you want to track calls as conversions, you need to set up a call conversion action in your Google Ads system. Step-by-step instructions are available here. Again, there are some options to take into consideration. You can choose whether you count conversions as "one" or "every." The "every" setting tracks multiple conversions per click, while the "one" setting lumps all conversions from a click into one.
You must also specify the length of time a call must last to be counted as a conversion. That length will depend on your sales process. After that, choose a conversion window. This is how long after an ad click the conversion will still be recorded. It can be anywhere from 7 to 60 days. Finish the configuration and you will be given a tracking tag.
At this point, if you haven't installed Google Analytics on your site, you will be asked to do so. You will also have to add a tracking tag to your global tracking code snippet, as explained in the installation process. You will also need to add the tracking code to your phone number in your site code. This is the code that detects if a user is coming from an ad or organically, and it adjusts the displayed forwarding number appropriately.
Tracking Calls From Ads Directly
In order to track calls from ads, you simply need to create a new Google Ad as a call-only ad. These ads appear only on devices that can make phone calls, and tapping on them will initiate a call rather than direct a user to a website. Your ads have two headlines (your business name and phone number), two lines for description and a display URL. You set these up the same way you set up any other Google Ad. This page includes the technical specifications for these ads, like character limits and number formatting.
Once you set up call tracking, you'll be able to gather even more information about the kinds of leads you're gathering from your advertising. More information is always useful for future optimizations, so there's no reason not to do it.
I've found that setting up call tracking not only gave me more information on each of my ads, but more importantly, it told me which keywords were generating clicks but weren't resulting in conversions. I find that Google Ads has its own "80/20" rule, where 80% of the results tend to come from 20% of your keywords. Without setting up proper conversion tracking, it's impossible to know which of those keywords are actually providing results.
Tracking my phone's silent connections