How to Use Call Tracking to Improve Your Google Ads Performance

min read
How to Use Call Tracking to Improve Your Google Ads Performance

This is a contributed post from the experts at Linear, a PPC/CRO agency focused on helping clients grow.

So, you know that sales are happening on the phone. But what if you could use the data from your customer calls to improve your Google ads performance, make more money, and grow your business? Just imagine what data lives in each call: keywords, conversion signals, and more all straight from the customer’s mouth. But how can you access this data without manually listening to thousands of call recordings?

Your call-centric solution for improving PPC and display ads is call tracking and analytics software. Call tracking can get you the customer journey data to attribute your online marketing to offline conversions. It can tell you about consumer behavior before they light up your phone. And advanced call tracking platforms like Invoca can even use AI to analyze what happened on the call for you! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the easy stuff.

What is Call Tracking?

Did you mean, what is sliced bread? Okay, not everyone knows about call tracking (yet), and that’s all right. That means you’re going to be way ahead of the game just from reading this!

Call tracking—for PPC ads, specifically—is a way of tracking the calls made to your business and attributing conversions to your marketing and gathering data to optimize campaigns so they drive more high-intent callers to the phone.

How Call Tracking Works

Here’s the quick version:

  • Step 1: Drop the Invoca tag on your website
  • Step 2: The tag automatically swaps static phone numbers for dynamic phone numbers that allow Invoca to track your inbound calls
  • Step 3: Invoca gathers customer journey data such as the Google Click ID, pages visited, campaign that drove the call, and more
  • Step 4: Invoca uses AI to capture deep insights from the phone conversation, such as if it was a sales lead, what products or services the caller was interested in, and if they converted
  • Step 5: Invoca integrates with your technology stack so you can view the data in your existing workflows

Want a little more detail? Let’s say you choose Invoca for your provider. (Excellent choice, by the way.) When you set up the platform, they’ll give you a tag to drop on your website.

The tag will look for phone numbers on your website, and it can automatically swap static phone numbers with dynamic numbers that allow Invoca to track your incoming calls. Think of the phone number you have on your homepage—it’s probably your main sales number. The dynamic numbers that Invoca uses in place of your phone number are trackable and gather information for you, creating a 1-to-1 connection between the caller, their digital journey, and what happens on the phone. The calls are, of course, forwarded to your preferred number.

The information that Invoca gathers for you will include customer journey data such as Google click ID (Gclid), page visitation, campaign names, and keywords. You get to choose from a plethora of options on what you want Invoca to track for you and what platform you push the data to (e.g. Google Analytics, Adobe Experience Cloud, Salesforce, BI tools, etc.)

The last option that you’ll want to use with Invoca is Signal AI, which automatically classifies your call outcomes, allowing you to take the next best marketing action in real time. They have “out-of-the-box” pre-trained AI models for common business applications, or you can train your own models using pre-classified call recordings. Signal AI creates a goldmine of previously untapped 1st-party customer data making the possibilities of what you can do with it nearly endless.

Why Would You Use Call Tracking for Google Ads?

You’re probably familiar with (or living in) a world without call tracking. It’s a world where your phone rings and your sales reps answer it and make sales. But marketing has no idea what drove the customer to call, what they called for, or if a sale occurred. It’s a black hole sucking up marketing attribution and money.

Gain valuable sales process insights

Your sales process can’t be improved because you don’t have a blow-by-blow account of the call. Overall, you don’t have the information needed to get more of those great calls coming in. A company that isn’t tracking how they’re getting sales and how they’re closing sales is a company that’s almost relying on luck. Point being, call tracking is a necessity for your data-driven business.

Call tracking and Google Ads can work together for enriched data

Most call tracking platforms have the ability to track the digital source of the call. This works great with your Google Ads campaigns. When you look at the call details of an individual phone call, the tracking will show you the UTM source, the campaign details, and even the keyword that triggered the phone call.

Sophisticated call tracking makes marketing optimization easier

And again, you can also use Invoca’s Signal AI to analyze the calls that come in to classify their outcomes and use that data to optimize your marketing (use the keywords your customers are actually using) and taking the next best marketing action in real time (e.g. suppressing ads for people who convert and retargeting those who don’t.)

Call Tracking Software vs. Google Call Tracking

Perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Google provides all the call tracking I need.” While it’s true that Google does provide some call tracking features, its functionality is very limited.

The pros of Google call tracking

The cons of Google call tracking

  • Google counts every call from your call extension as a conversion or uses proxy metrics such as call duration to count conversions — this inflates your numbers, as not every caller will convert to a customer
  • Google call tracking does not have AI-powered capabilities to capture insights from phone conversations

The benefits of call tracking software

  • Track which campaigns, ad groups, and keywords are driving calls
  • Get accurate call conversion tracking
  • Get detailed information about the caller’s online journey
  • Get demographic data from every caller, including their phone number, geographic location, and if they’ve called before
  • Capture rich first-party data from phone conversations to use for retargeting
  • Review recordings and transcriptions of every phone conversation
  • Push call tracking data into your existing workflows in Google or your preferred bid management platform

Using Call Tracking to Optimize Your Google Ads Campaigns

The real reason you’re reading this—you want know how call tracking can be used to improve your Google Ads performance. Remember how I mentioned that call tracking and Google Ads are an awesome team? Here’s how to harness the power of that team for staggering results.

Tip 1: Review call details for qualified calls driven by campaigns

First, with the information that you get from your call details, you will be able to tell what is driving quality calls. You’ll also be able to tell if certain campaigns or keywords are bringing in a lot of existing customers, allowing you to suppress ads for them or tune your strategy so you’re only spending money on attracting new customers.

Tip 2: Review campaign metrics to optimize ad strategy

Using the information you get from your call tracking, you can go into your Google Ads and focus on the specifics that are driving your calls. For example, you can see if you’re getting a lot of calls from a certain zip code,  demographic, or during a certain time of day. This information can help you decide where to put bid adjustments to optimize your account.

Tip 3: Find new keyword opportunities hidden in calls 

Next, you can use that information you get from advanced analytics like Invoca’s Signal AI to further optimize your Google Ads account. Let’s say there’s a phrase that your callers keep repeating in their calls. If that phrase is leading to a lot of sales but isn’t being bid on, you can start a campaign for it. Listening to and having your AI tag these calls can be a great way to expand your keyword list and bring in even more customers. Sometimes your customers describe your product in a different way than you do. It’s valuable to learn how to speak their language so you know what they’re typing into Google.

Tip 4: Fill in the gaps in your customer’s journey

Lastly, advanced call tracking like Invoca can tell you your customer’s journey in detail. You’ll be able to learn if a customer has visited another web page before making the phone call. If you start to see a pattern in pages visited, you can optimize your account for those pages.

Learning everything you can about the customer’s actions leading up to and on the phone call is immensely valuable in learning how to get more of those customers.

The Wrap Up on Call Tracking & Google Ads

While Google Ads on its own can offer some insights to call traffic, nothing beats the level of detail that call tracking offers. The detail provided by combining Google Ads and call tracking software will allow you to truly understand everything that’s happening in your customer’s mind. Even though they may not be able to tell you their thought process before they called your company, their online journey will fill in the blanks.

As you really get to know the mindset of the people who become your customer, you can start to optimize your marketing strategy. Tailoring your Google Ads to more closely match those customers will bring in more business and more money.

Want to learn more about how call tracking works with Google? Check out these resources:

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