Call Tracking: Should I Use It?

Conversion optimization is key to ensuring that your website performs well for your business. In order to maximize your conversions, you need to track how people are using your website, what buttons they are clicking on, and how they ultimately contact you for business. This is quite easy when it comes to forms, but it gets trickier when it comes to phone calls. Enter: call tracking.

What Is Call Tracking?

“Call tracking” can mean a few different things, but it usually refers to software or a service that shows how a caller reaches you through your different marketing channels. Some of these services simply show the number callers used with some additional data on the calls (like time of day), while others have robust call recording and routing services. There are a few different ways you can implement call tracking, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Method #1: Separate Phone Numbers

The easiest way to use call tracking for your different marketing channels is to have a separate phone number for each. Use one phone number for radio ads, one phone number for newspaper ads, and one number for online. All you need is a phone system that has a call log, and your staff can start noting when the call came in and what type of call it was (support call, sales, etc.).


The advantage of this method is that it can be very affordable. Some businesses may already have separate lines with their phone switch systems (called a private branch exchange or PBX), so additional phone numbers may already be available. There are also services like Google Voice that will allow you to get a number for free. This allows you to route the Google Voice number to another landline or a mobile phone, and it’s very easy to implement. There is no coding or special scripting needed to start tracking. Simply add the correct number to the site, and you’re set.


Sometimes easy is good, but the simplicity of this method is actually its downfall. It is great if you are tracking marketing channels as a whole, but it doesn’t work well if you want to track individual campaigns within those channels. Another disadvantage with this method is that it can be very expensive, especially if you don’t already have a PBX system in place at your business. If you don’t have a virtual PBX or hosted PBX system and expect to track hundreds of calls per month, I wouldn’t recommend this method.

Method #2: Built-in Advertising Call Tracking

Advertising platforms are starting to offer built-in call tracking capabilities. The most popular example of this is Google Adwords call tracking. A lot of our clients use this for their Adwords campaigns. Advertising platforms like YellowPages also offer call tracking by providing a dedicated number for business listings.


Adwords is a free tool and also offers a fairly easy implementation process through some Javascript code. When using this tool in a pay-per-click campaign, you will get detailed metrics on the keywords that are generating phone calls.


These free tracking services are tied to an existing ad platform, so some extra set up may be required. It’s also possible to get some basic data on the source of a call without this tracking in place.

Method #3: Call Tracking Services

Call tracking services integrate a bank of numbers into a PBX with a built-in call tracking service. These numbers track individual sessions and filter data into an online metrics system, giving you added insight into what is and isn’t working in your marketing. Some call tracking services we have used in the past include Mongoose, Marchex, and ResponseTap.


These services typically have easy-to-use dashboards and have an implementation process similar to Google call tracking. Some even provide call recording features and voice-to-text dictation.


The main disadvantage here is cost. Services frequently have a base cost, and additional features can raise this cost further.


Should I Start Using Call Tracking?

Before you decide whether or not to use call tracking, you need to consider call volume. It is possible to use separate phone numbers based on the marketing channel and to manually compile call data, but it can be a daunting job if you are receiving more than 50 calls a month. If you are dealing with a large volume of calls, a tracking service is generally more affordable than relying on your staff. You also have the added convenience of automated data compilation. Regardless of the method you choose, tracking your business’s phone calls adds valuable insight into your marketing and advertising efforts.