The Difficulties of Call Tracking

Ajay Pattani
November 18, 2014

I’ll preface this with the fact that I am not an expert when it comes to call tracking.  More recently, many of our clients and our team have been really interested in figuring this out. We’ve been testing providers, we’ve tried manually using numbers on landing pages and we’ve even lost an opportunity to work with a client because we didn’t come to them with a strong recommendation for phone tracking when another agency did.  I’m pretty sure my team is far superior at search marketing and therefore this decision was probably a mistake on their part.   Why, you ask?   Many factors have to occur to make phone tracking show enough statistically significant data to actually improve account performance.


I would assume that the majority of phone tracking is exactly that – just tracking.  Tracking calls does not improve the amount of or quality of calls.   To truly implement robust data, intensive tracking can require significant development resources.  If you outsource this it can get costly.  And then the question of ownership on the phone numbers may also become an issue.   Other implications are accuracy of the data, level of granularity of data, and…the not so obvious…what constitutes a phone call.   If someone calls and hangs up, is that a phone call that you want in your data?  An analogy would be if there is a spammy signup form filled out, do you want to consider that when optimizing online conversion data?  Probably not.


And if you are a robust advertiser with accurate data and it appears to be actionable, and you optimize, another consideration is the impact of online conversions when optimizing for phone calls. I would assume that if you push phone calls, conversions will decrease.  But maybe not.  Or maybe sometimes but not other times.


Google more recently has introduced dynamic call tracking from AdWords to offer account data for calls when a user clicks on a Google ad and calls the number on the website.  (Click here for more information.) This should not be confused with call extensions, which are just the phone number being placed in the ad.   This new form seems like it will be a great solution for all of our clients – maybe we will get accurate keyword level data for calls and hopefully Google can assist in figuring this out.   But for some reason, they haven’t made a big deal about this change which makes me doubt how powerful it will be.


To conclude, this post is a bit more jumbled and unorganized than most I have written – almost a brain dump, although having “brain” in the phrase may be a compliment.  I guess that’s just how I feel about call tracking.


Ajay Pattani
CEO & Founder

Ajay Pattani is a lifelong resident of Chicagoland and is fiercely passionate about his white wine. If he could be a spokesperson for any product, it would have to be white wine. Ajay says if he could be good at one thing, it would be reading minds. If you could read his now, he’d most likely be thinking about white wine.

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