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Should You Use Google’s New Adwords Phone Call Tracking Feature?

Google introduced a new Adwords feature this Monday called website call conversion, allowing you to track phone calls from your website occurring after visitors clicked on Adwords ads.

Google phone call tracking example

How does website call conversion tracking work?

Website call conversion tracking works by adding two JavaScript code snippets on every page of your website where you want Google to track website call conversions. Once the code snippets are setup, Google will dynamically insert a Google forwarding number, and track the phone calls no matter if they click on the phone number or dial it directly.

Below are examples of the two JavaScript code snippets:

A.    Tracking code in the <head> section

<head>
  <script type="text/javascript">
    var callback = function(formatted_number, unformatted_number ) {
    // formatted_number: number to display, in same formatting as number
    //        passed to _googWcmGet(). e.g '1-800-444-5555' in this case
    // unformatted_number: number to display without any formatting. e.g.
    //        '18004445555'
    var e = document.getElementById("number");
    e.innerHTML = ""
    e.appendChild(document.createTextNode(formatted_number));
    };
  </script>
</head>

B.    Tracking code in the <body> section

<body onload="_googWcmGet(callback, '1-800-123-4567')">
  <span id="number">1-800-123-4567</span>
</body>

Note that to be able to use website call conversion, your Adwords ads have to use an active call extension.

What are the benefits of Google’s website call conversion tracking?

Google’s new website call conversion tracking feature offers various benefits:

It’s customizable. Google mentioned that “to ensure [that] this experience is seamless, you can customize the look and feel of these numbers to match your website, including: color, font, and size”

It’s free. To the contrary of other tools, the website call conversion tracking feature is free to use.

Reporting is available directly in Adwords. Reports for your phone calls are available directly in Adwords, in the Call Details section of the standard conversion reporting.

What are the limitations of Google’s website call conversion tracking?

It only tracks Adwords phone calls from the search network. Google’s forwarding numbers are only displayed after a visitor click on a search ad and lands on your website. As a result, any visit coming from other traffic sources such as organic, referral, email or social media won’t benefit from the feature. And since it only works with search ads, visitor clicking on your display campaigns ads won’t be tracked using website call conversion either.    

The forwarding phone numbers are only valid for 90 days. If your visitors end up writing down the forwarding number displayed by Google and call your business after 90 days, the forwarding number might be inactive. As a result, your visitors won’t be able to contact you with no hassle, and will have to restart their search process, which could lead them to one of your competitors.

The feature is currently only available in US, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Australia where Google has forwarding numbers. It remains to be seen what the forwarding numbers look like, but if they all use an 800.XXX.XXXX format, they could actually affect your phone call conversions. In France for example, phone number starting with the number 8 are often “paying number” for which you get charged for the call and its duration.

What are the alternative phone call tracking tools?

If you are looking to keep track of the phone calls from your website for more than just your search advertisement traffic, several tools offer call tracking for various traffic sources. These tools, although coming with a cost, often offer a lot more features than Google’s website call conversion, including call recording or call scoring tools for example. And, they usually integrate nicely with other systems such as your CRM or your marketing automation tool.

One of the most popular phone call tracking tool is Ifbyphone. The tool actually offers many more feature than call tracking, and advertises itself as a voice-based marketing automation platform. The company published a blog post called Google Validates Need for Call Tracking with Website Call Conversion for Adwords Tool after Google’s announcement of the new feature. We encourage you to take a look at it as it highlights the key differences with Google’s tool.
Tools such as Ifbyphone allow you to measure and optimize the ROI on your marketing campaigns by tracking the phone call conversions from offline, online or mobile sources and allowing you to identify your most effective marketing activities. Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics track various online conversion types (e.g. contact form submitted, whitepaper download, request for appointments, etc.) but lack the ability to keep track of the phone calls generated. Independently from which industry we are working with, we regularly recommend using phone tracking technologies for any of the digital marketing programs we offer in order to be able to measure the marketing activities results accurately.

Many other phone call tracking tools are available, such as LogMyCalls or CallTrackingMetrics to name a few. Each tracking tool offers different features and pricing, you should therefore carefully evaluate what feature matter to you, how many phone call you need to track per month as well as how many different phone numbers (and toll-free numbers) you need to find the most cost effective solution.

In conclusion, Google’s new website call conversion is a new feature that is definitely worth using if you want to track your search ads phone call conversions, especially because it is free. However, if you wish to track more than just the phone calls occurring from your website after someone clicks on one of your search ads, you should consider investing in a more complete solution that will keep track of the phone calls originating from various traffic sources, and offering features such as phone call recording and more.

Get in touch with us if you want to learn more about how Smartt can help you optimize your ROI tracking on your different marketing activities, or check out our blog and training courses if you want to learn more about digital marketing in general.