How to Track Phone Calls in Google Analytics

Laura Caveney
28th February 2022

Understanding your call tracking analytics can only be properly achieved by tracking phone calls in Google Analytics. 

If you generate business via phone call, then you’ll want true visibility of that, just like how you track organic traffic. We found that 50% of marketers use phone calls to convert website traffic into leads. And of those, 62% struggle to track phone call conversions. 

And it’s no surprise. There is limited call tracking availability in the usual reporting tools marketers have access to. But, efficiently tracking your phone calls in Google Analytics can allow you to get to grips with data that can support an increase in efficiency in your marketing strategy and help you cut back on wasted budget. 

In this blog, we’re going to show you the two main ways to track phone calls in Google Analytics: 

Let’s get stuck in. 

⚡️ Pro Tip

Want to get a better sense of all your conversion points and the roles they play in your customer journeys?

Download our complete guide to tracking customer touchpoints.

What is call tracking? 

Call tracking is software used by marketers to trace and record inbound calls to their company phone line. 

Using call tracking software allows businesses to understand how many leads they’re generating via phone call, and to link inbound calls back to marketing touchpoints. 

Related: Complete guide to call tracking

With call tracking analytics in place, marketers can make smarter decisions about their marketing outputs.

How to track phone calls from Google Ads in Google Analytics

You can directly track phone calls from paid advertising using Google’s own phone call conversion tracking tool. It’s a great way to track how your paid advertising is working to drive inbound calls. And it’s pretty easy to set up too:

1. Firstly, click the spanner icon in the top right-hand corner of your page.

2. Under Measurement, select Conversions

3. Next, select New Conversion and choose phone call

Select Calls from ads using call extensions or call-only ads, then click Continue.

4. In the Goal Category section, select a conversion action. This will allow you to segment your conversions in reports.

5. Name your conversion and then select a value. You can assign a set value to calls or select Don’t assign a value.

6. Next to “Count”, select whether to count every or one conversion per ad click. Google advise that “Every” is best for sales; “one” is best for leads. 

7. You can then set your call length, conversion window and attribution model. Call length is the minimum length a call needs to last to be counted as a conversion. The conversion window allows you to select how long after an ad click you want to track conversions. Lastly, the attribution model allows you to pick a set model type. If you have enough data, choose data-driven.

Related: Learn more about data-driven marketing

8. Click Create and continue.

Next you’ll need to set up your conversion tracking tag. You’ll need to add code to your website to essentially allow your Google Ads and your Google Analytics account to talk to one another. You can view instructions on setting this up here.

Once all that’s set up, you’re ready to start tracking your phone calls in Google Analytics. It usually takes a few hours for the code to start working and filtering calls too.

But remember, this service is free of charge from Google and so is a great option if you’re using paid ads to drive conversions.

The limitations of Google’s native call tracking tool

While Google’s call tracking tool is a great way to get started with tracking inbound calls as conversions, it does have its limitations. Of course, it’s free, so bear that in mind!

Conversions are counted by call duration 

While it’s better to count longer calls as a conversion, as opposed to every call, this still isn’t completely accurate.

Not every lead is going to be a good fit. As such, your conversion rates and associated metrics will be unreliable. Your cost per conversion and your return on investment will both be skewed, so it’s important to remember this when reporting back on your campaign effectiveness.

Google’s call tracking is only available for paid ads 

While call tracking for ads is probably one of the better channels to have it on, it means you’re missing a lot of data still. Just think how many inbound calls you’re probably generating from organic, or social.

Not sure which channels are your best performing for conversion rates? We analysed millions of data points across 14 industries to find key data on conversion type, share of calls and forms and more.

⚡️ Pro Tip 

Not sure which channels are your best performing? We analysed millions of data points across 14 industries to find key data on conversion type, share of calls and forms plus more. 

Download our conversion benchmark report and see how you compare to other players in your industry.

And remember, while Google will track a direct call from a PPC ad, what about someone who returns a few days later? This will sway your ROAS even further so is important to think about when choosing to use Google’s in-app call tracking.

Google can’t highlight customer journeys 

Data-driven attribution with Google Ads can help you get an idea of how certain customer journeys lead to more leads and sales. But it takes a lot of work to set up correctly and relies on you getting a lot of data into your Ads account. And usually, getting a lot of data means spending a lot of money.

Related: Read how to track full customer journeys

So, more often than not, businesses rely on another attribution model type which leaves them with isolated data.

Integrating call tracking analytics using Ruler Analytics 

Integrating a marketing attribution tool like Ruler Analytics will give so much more insight than just the number of inbound calls.

You’ll be able to track each and every lead, plus every touchpoint as they move along their customer journey.

Instead of taking a guess at where leads are coming from, you’ll have all the data you need, where you need it most.

source report Ruler Analytics


👉 Book a demo to see the data in action 

Why you need multi-touch attribution 

Ella visits your website. Let’s say she comes from an organic search. They read your ranking content and then they leave without converting.

You then set up a PPC campaign to retarget web visitors. The same user sees this advert and clicks, but again, doesn’t convert.

track phone call customer journey example

Meanwhile, another user does convert into a lead, calling your business. But that’s it. They never convert into a sale. While Google counts them as a conversion, your sales team marks them as unsuccessful.

Already, you can see where this is going.

Meanwhile, Ella returns 2 days later, via a direct search, as she already knows your brand and website. Here, she converts into a lead via a phone call. A few weeks later, she converts into a sale.

track phone calls customer journey conversion

So what’s the problem here?

Well, for one, you haven’t tracked that user because they finally converted via a direct search meaning Google’s in-app call tracking tool would not have fired.

Secondly, your ROAS is not accurate as this user was influenced by your PPC campaign but you have no proof of it. Finally, your organic content gets zero credit for bringing in the user in the first place as you can’t track the original lead source.

Related: Complete guide to marketing attribution

How Ruler can help you get full visibility of your leads

Ruler works like this. That user that came from organic, would immediately be tracked. Their lead source data and other marketing details will all be held in Ruler’s cloud.

So, when they visit again via your PPC ad, Ruler will add that information into the profile.

Finally, when they convert into a lead, Ruler fires all the data it holds over to your CRM. So you can see exactly where your leads are coming from.

But it doesn’t stop there.

When the lead converts a few weeks later, Ruler scrapes the revenue data from your CRM and attributes it to the correct channels, campaigns and keywords in your marketing analytics.

It means you get a true oversight of what in your marketing arsenal is working to bring in revenue, not just conversions.

Want to get started with Ruler Analytics? Book a demo with our team to find out how you can access all the lead and revenue data you’ve been missing. Or, learn more by reading our complete guide to call tracking and our guide to marketing attribution.

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