How to Track Phone Calls in Google Analytics: A Quick Guide

Laura Caveney
10th March 2021

If your business relies on a sales team to convert inbound calls from your digital marketing and website, then you’ll want to track the leads, conversions and customer journeys of the sales you make.


Proper tracking of your phone calls in Google Analytics can give you data like which channels, campaigns and even keywords are helping to drive inbound calls. But even better, you can learn which channels, campaigns and keywords are bringing in inbound calls that lead to sales. This will help you to optimise your marketing and concentrate on driving high-quality leads.

There are two main ways you can track phone calls in Google Analytics. The first is to use Google’s native call tracking tool. The second is to integrate your call tracking software with Google Analytics. Here’s how both work.


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, make sure you have call extensions and call reporting set up in your Google Ads account.

2. Next, create your call conversion in Google Ads.

3. Then, set up your call conversion length. This is what is considered a ‘conversion’. It basically means if someone calls but doesn’t get through, it won’t be counted. Or, if you know sales calls typically take a few minutes, then Google Analytics won’t track that call until it hits the designated length.

4. 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.

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.

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

conversion benchmark report - banner - (2)


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 

Ok, so call tracking is a great start. But what is it actually telling you? We know customer journeys are getting more and more complex. So as journeys get longer, marketers are being left with less insight and data on which channels and campaigns are working to convert their website visitors.

While Google can give you a rough idea on how paid advertising impacts your inbound calls, it doesn’t highlight deeper detail on what first attracted that lead, and ultimately, what converts them.


Why You Need Multi-Touch Attribution and Call Tracking Software to Track Calls in Google Analytics

Integrating a multi-touch 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.


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.


How Ruler can Help 

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 converted 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.


Start Tracking Your Calls and Customer Journeys in Google Analytics with Ruler

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. 

Book a demo Ruler Analytics