How to Track Calls in Google Ads

December 07, 2018

Tracking is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing. Campaign success depends on the account manager’s ability to analyze the right data, so they make the right changes, and repeat ad-infinitum until each goal is achieved. But improper tracking, especially with mobile calls, is an all too common problem with most accounts. Luckily with Google’s Search Network you can track calls, determine what aspects of your search campaigns (keywords, ads, etc.) are driving the most business, and capitalize on the best opportunities. 

When combined with conversion tracking and automated bid strategies, call details provide powerful insight as to which keywords, ads, and users work best to drive valuable phone calls to your business. Further qualifying your conversions allows Google’s machine learning algorithm to better hone in and achieve your goals. For example, B2B clients usually start online and move offline to speak to a customer rep before closing a deal. Capturing the outcome and importing this conversion data helps Google tie a specific value to a specific conversion. Unfortunately, due to privacy concerns Google doesn’t actually support call recordings. In order to do that you’d need a separate call tracking platform such as CallTrackingMetrics.

Call reporting relies on Google call forwarding numbers to track call details like: 

  • Call duration
  • Call start and end time
  • Caller area code
  • And even whether or not the call was connected 

These forwarding numbers are Google-owned and assigned to a particular ad and when a user calls this number they’re automatically rerouted to your actual business phone. When the user leaves your site the number is made freed up and recycled for other possible members in such a way that each user sees a unique forwarding number.

A unique aspect of calls are the fact you can count phone calls of a specified duration as conversions and use automated bidding strategies to increase the likelihood of these conversions since longer calls usually indicate more value to your business. 

Google Ads currently supports 4 ways to track phone call conversions:

  1. Users can be tracked when they call straight from ads – easy
  2. Call a Google forwarding phone number on your site – requires dev work
  3. Click on a number on your mobile site – requires dev work
  4. For more sophisticated tracking you can also import data like conversion outcomes and their values into Google Ads from another system such as customer relationship management (CRM) application. This feature is only available in certain countries. For a list of countries that support call forwarding numbers see countries – comprehensive

Quick and Easy

Tracking calls from ads requires a call-only ad or phone extension with “Call Reporting” on and set to “Count calls as phone call conversions”. To enable this, go into your call-only ad/phone extension and under “Conversion action” you can choose the conversion you wish to record. These ads will feature a Google forwarding number. To set your conversions reference how to create phone call conversions. 

Requires Development Work

When a user visits your website after clicking an ad you can also track calls from a click on a Google-forwarded number on your website. It’s a little more tedious to set up, in that you’ll need a call extension with call reporting enabled. To do this, you or your webmaster must add the conversion tracking tag to your website and a JavaScript snippet to replace your business number with a Google forwarding number. For help on implementing the tag see embedding the conversion tracking tag.

Requires Development Work

Tracking clicks on a number on your mobile site is basic in that it can only report on the clicks and not the actual phone call. To set this up, all you’ll need to do is include the conversion tracking tag to your mobile site and you’re set. To add tags to your mobile site see how to add tags to your mobile site.

Comprehensive method

This involves importing call data containing information on call outcomes and their associated values. By importing call conversion info into Google Ads, you can further qualify conversion actions by tracking when phone calls lead to sales or other valuable customer actions. This kind of conversion tracking measures calls that are initiated by taps on mobile ads, as well as calls that come through your website after someone clicks a desktop ad. However, it does not track manually dialed calls that result from desktop ads because Google requires a click to initiate it’s reporting features. It’s paramount that your team stay on top of things and properly tracks calls in a CRM system such as Salesforce or CallTrackingMetrics. For more info on importing your call data see how to import call conversions.

Now that you’re acquainted with proper call tracking methods you can confidently optimize your account because you’re feeding the Google’s machine learning algorithm with the right data for achieving your goals!