Should You Track Calls?
If you offer a service then a lot of your enquiries likely come in by telephone.
Call tracking for Adwords allows you to see which visitors have called from within Adwords and Analytics, so it is linked to all the other Adwords and Analytics data for that visitor. The caller can be tracked as a conversion in adwords and a goal or event in analytics. This lets you see what is leading to telephone enquiries. Including which keywords, what devices the callers are on, what time of day they are more likely to call, their location, and so on.
If a high proportion of your enquiries are by telephone then being able to track what leads to good enquiries can vastly improve your campaign. The caveat is that you or the agency managing the campaign needs to be competent enough to use the conversion data correctly to improve the campaign. But if you or your agency don’t know how to use that data then your campaign is going to be very poor.
If you don’t track this then you will have either no data, or just enquiry form submission data, or vague conversions that don’t relate to actual enquiries very well. For example some campaigns track every one that visits the “contact us” page as a conversion. This is an awful idea and there is usually very little correlation between people visiting this page and actual enquiries. If you are using an agency and they aren’t tracking any conversions in adwords or just vague conversions then they are doing an awful job for you.
Tracking enquiry form submissions is okay but typically 75% of enquiries for a lot of service based firms come from calls. Plus enquiry form submissions are different, the quality of them is different, they are more likely to arrive out of office hours, and people may be more likely to fill in forms on a desktop than a mobile as it is easier. So basically your data isn’t as accurate if you only use this data.
In other words call tracking is definitely worth it. You could be get 4x more data than just form submissions and it can be used to more than double the performance of your campaign over time.
How Does Call Tracking Work?
Google offer a free call tracking solution and there are paid solutions. I discuss both further down. But they both work the same way pretty much.
A script on your website will show the visitor a virtual phone number. Then it avoids showing anyone else that phone number for as long as possible. So the next visitor will see a different phone number. The first phone number wont show to anyone else again for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
These virtual phone number forwards the call to your normal number. When someone calls one of those virtual numbers the call tracking system knows the adwords ID and analytics ID of the last person that seen that phone number. So they get marked as a conversion which is linked to all their other data in adowrds and analytics. Most providers claim their software is 97% accurate or more. There will always be some inaccuracy like if someone calls a long time after they visited the site or you get a random sales call or wrong number dial on one of the numbers.
Google Adwords Call Tracking
Google provide a free solution which isn’t always guaranteed to show. I use it with really small clients but I can see from call logs that it often doesn’t track most of the calls. Only tracking some of the calls and not the rest could potentially mess your data up, depending on what causes google’s call tracking to not work. Usually it doesn’t work if they don’t have a phone number available that hasn’t been seen by anyone recently. Which means it is less likely to work during busy periods. This is just my guess but it would mean your data would show busy periods as being quieter than they actually are.
Paid Call Tracking Solutions
Paid call tracking solutions are much more reliable. You have a dedicated pool of phone numbers. For example if your website has an 0161 number then the call tracking provider will reserve a pool of usually at least 20 x 0161 numbers for your site. So everyone sees different 0161 numbers when they visit your site.
The paid tracking also comes with many additional features which vary depending on which provider you use. The main features are the ability to record calls, to rate them for quality at the end of the call and import that data in to analytics, integration with your crm system so you can see which keywords lead to actual paying customers not just enquiries. There are lost of smaller features too including email notifications when you miss a call or based on certain rules, pre recorded greetings for callers.
Usually you pay a fixed monthly amount plus a cost per minute for your calls. Or you get a bundled number of minutes. Packages usually start from around £50 per month + vat.
If you are spending more than £300 per month or more on adwords and get most of your enquiries by telephone it is worth paying for call tracking.