How to Track Phone Calls in Google Analytics

Laura Caveney
6th August 2022

Linking your calls back to your marketing activity is best viewed through Google Analytics. We show you how to connect the dots between the two. 

You track your website visitors. And you track your form fills. 

So why aren’t you tracking your inbound calls?

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. 

This is no surprise. 

Most marketing reporting tools don’t have out-of-the-box solutions to call tracking. 

But, efficiently tracking your phone calls in Google Analytics can allow you to get to grips with key data that can: 

Sound good? 

Well, in this blog we’re going to break down exactly how to track phone calls in Google Analytics. 

So keep reading for: 

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 these 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.

It sounds simple enough, but it’s actually quite complicated.

Think about it like this. 

How can you link online activity on your website to an action taken (on another device perhaps)? 

We’ll get into how it’s done. But first, let’s take a quick look over why tracking your calls is important. 

With call tracking in play you can: 

Achieving each of these is paramount to a marketer looking to improve efficiency and drive more revenue at a lower budget. 

The limitations of Google’s native call tracking tool

Before we show you how to track calls in Google Analytics, it’s worth just running over some limitations of native call tracking with Google. 

Of course, it’s free, so bear that in mind!

Limitations of call tracking with Google Analytics:

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.

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 it when choosing to use Google’s in-app call tracking.

Conversions are counted by call duration 

Google Analytics only counts calls when they hit a certain 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 person who calls your business is going to be a good fit. 

As such, you’ll be counting leads for things like: 

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 Analytics can’t highlight customer journeys 

A user isn’t likely to land on your site and call straight away. 

While it’s great to track inbound calls, they’re just one marketing touchpoint in a longer customer journey. 

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.

How to track phone calls 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.

How to Set Up Phone Call Tracking in Google Tag Manager

Another way to track calls from your website is by using Google Tag Manager. 

Google Tag Manager allows you to easily add event tags to your website that can track when phone calls take place. 

Step 1: Create a trigger that fires when the click URL contains ‘tel’

Before you create an event listener in GTM, you need to use the markup “tel” followed by your company’s phone number to basically make it a link. 

If your phone number was 0000-123-1234, you would change the markup to href=tel:0000-123-1234 

Once you’ve done this, head to Google Tag Manager. 

Here, click Variables in the dashboard. 

Then click Configure and scroll down to Clicks and check all the boxes. 

Now, you can create your trigger. 

Click Triggers and then click New. 

Under ‘Choose Trigger Type’, select Just Links. 

Then choose Some Link Clicks

Select Click URL in the left box, Contains in the middle and then write tel in the right box. 

Name your trigger Phone Call Trigger and click Save. 

Step 2: Connect the trigger to a tag 

In order to actually use the trigger your just created, you need to link it to a tag. This allows your data to connect to Google Analytics. 

First, create the tag by selecting Tags in the sidebar menu and clicking New 

Then click Tag Configuration and choose Google Analytics 

Enter the following for the designated conditions: 

For Action, click + to see the list of options. Select Click URL

Here you need to select the Page Path variable. The end result should be {{Click URL}} Clicked On {{Page Path}}. 

Change non-interaction hit to True and under Google Analytics Settings, save your analytics variable 

Now we need to link the trigger. In Trigger, select Phone Call Trigger. Name the tag something you can remember and click Save. 

Then, publish your tag by clicking Submit. 

You can test the tag by clicking the phone number via a mobile device. 

Then, head to realtime reports and select Events. Your call should be logged alongside the page you clicked it from. 

You could then create a conversion goal in Google Analytics to see which channels drive phone calls. 

  1. Click Admin, Goals, and then + New Goal.
  2. Name the goal Phone Calls and Select Event.
  3. Put Phone Calls in the “Equals To” field and save it.
  4. In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition < All Traffic < Channels, set your date range, and select your Phone Calls goal to see the channels driving phone calls.

Why you should use call tracking software to track calls

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

Get full visibility of your leads with Ruler

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.

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