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

min read
How to Track Phone Calls in Google Analytics: A Simple Guide

If your business drives sales over the phone from its website or digital advertising, you’ll want to track the leads, conversions, and other actions from these phone calls to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts. 

Tracking phone calls in Google Analytics can give you data like keyword and campaign performance and give you the ability to understand conversion paths, allowing you to better optimize your website and campaigns. There are a couple of ways to track phone call leads and sales in Google Analytics: using Google’s native phone call conversion tracking, or by integrating your call tracking software with Google Analytics. Here’s how it works.

How to Track Phone Calls in Google Analytics

You can track phone calls that originate from a phone number on your website using Google’s phone call conversion tracking. This is the simplest way to figure out how effective your ads are at driving phone calls from your website. This is accomplished by placing dynamically-generated Google forwarding numbers that replace your phone number on your site. Here’s how to set up call tracking in Google Analytics.

  1. First, you must have call extensions and call reporting set up in your Google Ads account.
  2. Create your phone call conversion actions in Google Ads. These actions should be whatever you consider a conversion. Such as “appointment set” or “item purchased”. 
  3. Set your call length. This is what determines a “conversion” in Google Analytics, so you’ll need to know the duration of a typical phone call when conversions occur. 
  4. Set up your conversion tracking tag. This involves adding two javascript code snippets to your website and it’s what allows Google to attribute a conversion to your Google Ads campaigns and report it in Google Analytics. 
  5. Check your code and start tracking calls! Note that it can take a few hours for your ads to be enabled for this conversion action and that you will be charged for the ad clicks when you’re testing it. 

The great thing about using the native call tracking in Google Analytics is that Google provides the service at no charge. Well, you’re still paying for the clicks on your paid search ads, but you get call data in Google Ads for free. There are some drawbacks to tracking calls in Google Analytics this way, however. 

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. 

Phase 1: Create a Trigger that Fires When the Click URL Contains “tel”

Before you get started with implementing an event listener in Google Tag Manger, it’s important that you use the markup “tel” followed by your company’s phone number to make it clickable. For example, if your company’s phone number was 222-222-2222, you would use the following markup: “href=tel:222-222-2222”. 

Step 1: Enable All Click Variables

  1. Click “Variables” from the Google Tag Manager dashboard.
  2. Click “Configure,” scroll Down to “Clicks,” and check all of the boxes.

Step 2: Create the Trigger

  1. Click “Triggers,” then select “New”.
  2. Under the “Choose Trigger Type” menu, select “Just Links”.
  3. Under “This Trigger Fires On,” select “Some Link Clicks”.
  4. Choose “Click URL” in the left box, “Contains” in the middle, and write “tel” in the right.
  5. Name the trigger something like “Click Trigger for Phone Calls” and save.

Phase 2: Link the Trigger to a Tag

In order to put the trigger you just created to use, it must be connected to an event-based tag. Once it’s published, this tag will pass your data into Google Analytics.

Step 1: Create the Tag

  1. Click “Tags” from the sidebar menu and click “New”.
  2. Click into “Tag Configuration” and choose “Google Analytics: Universal Analytics”.
  3. For the “Track Type,” choose “Event”.
  4. Name the Category “Phone Calls”.
  5. For “Action” Click The Plus Sign. This will open a list of variables. 
  6. Select “Click URL”
  7. Use this menu to select the “Page Path” variable. The end result will be {{Click URL}} Clicked On {{Page Path}} — this allow you to see the page the phone number was clicked on.
  8. Leave the “Label” and “Value” blank.
  9. Change non-interaction hit to “True”.
  10. Under “Google Analytics Settings” select your saved analytics variable.

Step 2: Select the Click Trigger You Created Earlier

  1. Click into “Triggers” and select “Click Trigger for Phone Calls”.
  2. Name the tag something like “GA-Event-Phone-Calls” and save.

Step 3: Publish the Tag and Test It

  1. Publish the tag by hitting “Submit” in the top right corner. 
  2. In the version name field, write something like “Added Phone Tracking” and hit “Publish” 
  3. Test the tag by clicking the phone number via a mobile device. Then go to the real-time report in analytics and select “Events.” You should see the phone number as well as what page you clicked it from appear.

Phase 3: Turn Phone Call Clicks Into a Conversion Goal to See Traffic Sources Driving Calls

Once you’ve got everything above working, you’ll want to turn this into a conversion goal. This will allow you to see what channels your the phone call clicks are coming from, for example, if you’re driving calls from SEO, paid search, social media, or direct traffic.

Step 1: Create an Event-Based Goal

  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.

The Drawbacks of Using Google’s Native Call Tracking

  1. Google can only determine a conversion using call duration as a proxy - This means that any call that lasts more than two minutes, for example, will be counted as a conversion. That means customer service calls, people being placed on hold, product inquiries, and other non-sale outcomes will be counted as conversions. This can significantly skew your cost per acquisition (CPA) and make your return on ad spend (ROAS) look artificially high. 
  1. Google can only track conversions from ads - This means that only calls that are a result of someone clicking on your paid search result and then landing on your website are tracked. If a customer sees your ad, but does not click on it and returns to your website later and then calls your business, the call will not be tracked and conversions will not be recorded.
  1. Google can't provide any call insights - While Google can provide data like keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns that are leading to inbound calls, you can’t get any other data from the call to get insight into what is happening on the calls and to build complete customer profiles.

Why You Should Use Call Tracking Software to Track Calls in Google Analytics

Integrating a call tracking platform like Invoca with Google Analytics will allow you to take your web optimizations to the next level. This will help you drive more conversions on the phone and on your website, and it can also help you significantly reduce your CPA, which is always a good thing. Watch the video below to see how getting call attribution and creating audience segments in Google Analytics works:

Now, here are the advantages of using call tracking software with Google Analytics. 

  1. More accurate phone call conversion reporting - When you use a call tracking platform like Invoca with Google Ads, you can use AI-powered conversational analytics to accurately and automatically detect conversions that happen on the phone. You can also detect, segment, and report on more phone call events with call tracking, like product interest shown, service call, appointment set, or any call outcome that matters to your business.
  2. Insight into what is happening on sales calls - Using AI-powered conversational analytics tools like Invoca Signal Discovery, you can uncover customer interactions that you did not know were happening, like customer complaints, website issues, or people calling to buy products that you aren’t advertising. This data is used to create new event Signals so you can report and track them in Google Analytics.
  3. Additional call data for ad optimization - Using call tracking with Google Analytics gives you a wealth of information like keywords, ads and campaigns, and specific web pages that drove calls, and even keywords that were spoken on the calls to help you optimize your campaigns. You can also access call recordings and listen to exactly what your customers are saying.
  4. Ability to track calls that aren’t from ad clicks - When you use a call tracking platform with Google Analytics, you can also track calls from your website that were from direct or organic traffic. You can also track calls from all types of paid media including display, paid search, YouTube ads, and more. Note that you can only view your website call data and data from Google properties in Google Ads. Microsoft Ads (aka Bing) for example cannot be viewed in Google Analytics, but can be seen in their analytics platform or in Invoca’s reporting.
  5. Data to create call-based customer segments in Google Analytics - You can drive even more conversions by creating call-based segments in Google Analytics using call tracking data. For example, you can identify callers who did not submit an application, and create an audience that you can send to Google Ads or Google display network. This audience can be retargeted or pushed for paid search to help re-engage people who did not finish their application.

How to Use Invoca Call Tracking with Google Analytics

1. Create Goals in Google Analytics based on Call conversions

Your integration reports your Invoca phone calls and Signals to Google Analytics as Events. Events appear in the Behavior reports. If you want to see Invoca data in other reports or to create Audiences based on the data, the first step is to create new Goals based on these conversions.

For comprehensive steps on how to create Goals, see Google’s documentation here

  1. In Google Analytics, navigate to Admin
  2. Under the desired View, click Goals.
  3. Create a new Goal and choose the Custom radio button.
  4. Give the new goal a name and slot ID and select the Event type. 
  5. To create a Goal for calls, enter “Invoca Call” in the Action field. To create a Goal for a Signal, enter the Signal name that is passed in the webhook for the Action.
  6. Choose if you would like to enter your own hard-coded value for the Goal. 
  7. Save.

2. View call tracking data in your Google Analytics reports

Google Analytics provides many different reports to help you understand visitor behavior. We’ll cover a small set of reports at your disposal to view Invoca data in Google Analytics, but keep in mind that Invoca-related conversion goals can appear in any report that shows goals!

Realtime Events

The Realtime > Events report can be helpful to confirm Invoca is successfully reporting calls and Signals to Google Analytics. One great way to see how this report works in action is to place a test call to one of your Invoca promo numbers. Not long after your call, you should see the Invoca Call event populate in the Realtime table.

Viewing real time phone call events in Google Analytics
Here is what real time call events look like in Google Analytics

Top Events

This report provides a breakdown of all events with the option to include secondary dimensions. You might find it helpful to add secondary dimensions to see the Source or Medium driving Invoca events.

Top phone call events report in Google Analytics
Here is what top events for phone calls looks like in Google Analytics.

Top Conversion Paths

The Top Conversion Paths report visualizes the path to conversion based on Source, Medium, Campaign, or Keyword. It’s a great way to see all the different marketing campaigns or channels that led to a conversion goal. Be sure to leverage the conversion goal filter in the upper left.

Viewing conversion paths with phone calls in Google Analytics
This is the view of conversion paths in Google Analytics.

3. Use your call tracking data to create new audiences in Google Analytics for targeting

Creating Audiences in Google Analytics is very useful. The audiences can be published to advertising destinations, such as Google Ads and Display & Video 360, to be used in targeting and suppression. This helps you deliver more relevant and compelling ads to your consumers. 

Follow the steps outlined here to create an Audience based on users who completed a goal conversion related to an Invoca call — or, preferably, a Signal. While it’s possible to target users who call, we recommended you create your audiences based on Invoca Signals instead, to get more granular targeting based on the types of calls and callers you value most. 

How Tracking Calls in Google Analytics Gives Acadia Healthcare 95% Conversion Attribution Accuracy

Acadia Healthcare is one of the largest providers of behavioral healthcare services in the world, operating treatment facilities in nearly 600 cities throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom. Their network of treatment facilities offers multiple population-based levels of care for various behavioral health and substance use disorders.

Acadia didn’t have a call tracking solution that would allow them to see what was driving each touch with marketing before a phone call — this made it difficult to tell what should be counted as a success. “As you go down the funnel and bring in more human touchpoints, you start to lose out on data and information,” Ryan Beagan, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Acadia.

With Invoca’s Google Analytics integration, Acadia can understand which website pages are driving high-quality phone calls. They can also connect those phone calls to revenue, tying together the full digital-to-call experience. This allows them to understand their top-performing website pages, landing pages, and digital campaigns in real time. They can then make smarter optimization decisions to increase conversions and revenue.

Acadia now has 95% conversion attribution accuracy with Invoca. This improved tracking has allowed them to achieve a 25% increase in call volume and a 7% increase in admissions.

To learn tips to drive more phone leads, download our Ultimate Guide to Conversation Intelligence.

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