What Is Call Attribution and Why Do I Need It?

min read
What Is Call Attribution and Why Do I Need It?

Most marketers know the importance of attribution. It’s how you show that your marketing efforts are generating ROI, and of course, it’s how you get credit for all of your work. How else are you going to justify that raise you’ve been hinting about, right? But while you are likely highly skilled at getting digital attribution; whether it’s multi-touch, first touch or last touch, like many marketers you’re probably missing out on attribution for phone calls.

What Is Call Attribution?

Call attribution (also known as call tracking) is a marketing analytics technique that enables businesses to determine the source or marketing channel that led to incoming phone calls. By assigning unique phone numbers to different marketing efforts such as online ads, social media campaigns, or email campaigns, call attribution helps marketers understand which channels are driving the most calls and conversions. This valuable insight allows businesses to optimize their marketing strategies, allocate budgets effectively, and improve overall campaign performance. With call attribution, marketers can bridge the gap between online and offline interactions, gaining a comprehensive view of their customer journey and making data-driven decisions to enhance their marketing efforts. 

If you’d like to learn more about Invoca’s call tracking capabilities, check out our blog post, What is Call Tracking and How Does it Work?

Why Do Marketers Need Call Attribution?

Sales that happen on the phone are the call center and sales team's territory, right? While they certainly make sales happen once a customer calls, your marketing team (and budget) most likely helped make that call happen in the first place. That means you should be sharing credit for conversion with the team that picks up the phone.

This is especially true for considered purchase businesses like financial services, insurance, healthcare, and others where customers frequently call to make their final decision on a high-dollar purchase. Marketing teams in categories like these spend a lot of time and money getting customers on the phone, but unfortunately, many take something of a “spray and pray” approach to making the calls happen and, at best, get fragmented attribution for the calls they drive.

You may get numbers like the call volume that’s driven by your digital marketing. But just looking at that as a success metric would be like calling clicks on a display ads conversions. It’s doesn’t appropriately attribute spend to sales and gives you no data that you can use to optimize your marketing. So why would you do that with attribution for phone calls?

Long story short: you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—live with incomplete attribution for inbound sales phone calls that are driven by digital marketing. Whether you’re new to call attribution, or you’re just trying to determine the best model for your needs, here are the three primary types of call attribution and how you can use them.

How Does Call Attribution Work?

Call attribution operates by assigning unique phone numbers to specific marketing channels or campaigns, allowing businesses to track the source of incoming phone calls accurately. When a customer interacts with a marketing initiative, such as clicking on an online ad or visiting a website, a unique phone number associated with that particular campaign is dynamically displayed to the user. This unique number acts as a tracking mechanism, enabling businesses to trace the call back to its originating source.

In addition to capturing valuable data on the caller, such as their location and the marketing channel that prompted the call, call attribution platforms often integrate with other analytics tools to provide a comprehensive view of the customer journey. With call attribution, marketers can gain valuable insights into which marketing efforts are driving phone call conversions, allowing them to refine their strategies, optimize their budgets, and better understand the impact of their campaigns on overall business success.

3 Types of Call Attribution You Need to Know About

1. Campaign-Level Call Attribution

This is the most basic type of phone call attribution. It links a single campaign to a phone call. You can attribute phone calls to search campaigns, affiliate or agency partners, event collateral, and even offline ads.

This type of attribution makes sense if you only need to see a single campaign or marketing touch that leads to a phone call.


  • Simple setup: Just assign a single tracking number to each campaign. When someone calls that number, you know it came from that campaign.
  • Easy measurements: Since you are only measuring calls from individual campaigns, it’s easy to attribute the calls.


  • Limited customer view: You can’t see the entire customer journey, like if the caller also visited your website or social media properties.
  • Scalability: If you’re running hundreds of campaigns, attributing calls this way gets messy fast.
  • Lacks data granularity: You do not have any visibility into keywords, geographic or demographic data, or other browsing activity.

2. Session-Level Call Attribution

With session-level attribution, you can see all the touchpoints within a single user session that led to a phone call. For example, session-level attribution can link a phone call to the paid search keyword, campaign, landing page, and subsequent browsing activity. This way you know exactly how your web visitors are interacting with your advertising and website and how those things influence call behavior. This real-time information can also help your sales reps when answering the phone, giving them valuable background on the caller and their context.


  • Granular data: You have access to granular attribution data down to the keyword
  • Customer activity: You can see exactly how a customer interacts with your campaigns and website before making a call.
  • Customization: You can customize the parameters you want to capture and you can even customize the caller experience based on those parameters.
  • Scalability: Easily scalable with dynamic number insertion (a unique tracking phone number is automatically displayed for each visitor)


  • Limited customer view: Customer engagement outside the session is not captured.

3. Visitor-Level Attribution

This is the most comprehensive model and tracks a visitor throughout their entire engagement with your brand. This type of attribution gives you complete visibility so you can see exactly how a phone call fits into the entire customer journey.

This advanced level of attribution not only accounts for all customer touchpoints, it also empowers you to apply the insights to your remarketing and nurture strategies so you are sure to deliver the right message at the right time.


  • Customer view: See the entire context of the customer journey and how each touchpoint, including the phone call, influenced the sale.
  • Engagement history: If you have a longer sales cycle, this option is great because it provides engagement history before and after the call regardless of the time frame.


  • Integration – This type of attribution is best for sophisticated marketing teams who already use other types of marketing automation, CRM, or data management solutions. This level of attribution requires that you integrate your call tracking and analytics platfom with your other marketing systems to get the full picture of the customer journey.

Now that you know the pros and cons of these phone call attribution models, you can make a smarter decision about what type of attribution your business needs.

5 Call Attribution Best Practices

1. Set measurable goals

Before diving directly into call attribution, establish clear and measurable objectives that align with your business's overall marketing strategy. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) such as call-to-conversion ratios, cost per lead, or lead quality to track the success of your call attribution efforts effectively. These goals will serve as benchmarks for evaluating the impact of different marketing campaigns on call conversions .

2. Integrate call attribution data with your marketing stack

To gain comprehensive insights into your marketing performance, ensure that the call attribution data is seamlessly integrated with your existing marketing analytics tools and customer relationship management (CRM) system. This integration enables you to connect the dots between online marketing efforts and offline phone calls, providing a holistic view of the customer journey and facilitating data-driven decision-making across your marketing channels.

3. Allocate more budget to your highest-performing campaigns

Next, you’ll want to analyze the call attribution data to identify the marketing campaigns or channels that are generating the most high-quality leads and conversions. By allocating more budget to these top-performing campaigns, you can maximize your return on investment (ROI) and drive better results. This strategy ensures that your marketing resources are targeted towards initiatives that have proven to be effective in driving valuable phone call interactions.

4. Cut spend from campaigns driving low-quality leads

On the flip side, you can use call attribution data to identify underperforming campaigns that generate low-quality leads or minimal conversions. By reallocating or reducing the budget for these campaigns, you can minimize wasted resources and focus on initiatives that deliver stronger results. Call attribution allows you to make data-driven decisions, ensuring your marketing efforts are optimized for better outcomes.

5. Suppress callers who already converted from seeing future ads

Once a caller has converted into a customer, utilize call attribution data to exclude them from seeing further ads related to the same campaign. This approach prevents ad fatigue and improves the overall customer experience by targeting them with more relevant messaging or offers, increasing the likelihood of repeat business and brand loyalty. By suppressing already converted callers, you can optimize your ad spend and focus on attracting new potential customers.

Call Attribution Success Story: Rogers Communications

In our customer case study of Rogers Communications, they effectively utilized call attribution to optimize their media spending. By implementing Invoca's call tracking and analytics platform, Rogers gains valuable insights into the impact of their marketing campaigns on call conversions. With a deeper understanding of which channels and campaigns are driving the most calls, Rogers can make data-driven decisions to allocate their media budget more efficiently. The results are nothing short of remarkable:

  • 82% two-year decrease in cost-per-acquisition (CPA) from Google Paid Search
  • 18% increase in net revenue from paid search campaigns
  • Doubled the volume of qualified leads
  • 10% reduction in sales-to-care call transfer rates

This success highlights the power of call attribution in empowering businesses like Rogers to make smarter, more informed marketing choices, ultimately leading to improved ROI and enhanced customer experiences. Feel free to hear from Rogers’ own, Charlie Farrell, about how Invoca contributed to their success story

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how you can use call attribution to stretch your marketing budget? Check out these resources:

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