How To Use Call Tracking To Monitor Phone Conversions in Google Ads

If you’re running a lead generation campaign via Google Ads that’s designed to drive phone calls – as opposed to just web-based enquiries, sign-ups or downloads – you need to set up call tracking.

It’s also a must if you find that your customers often prefer to talk to somebody before parting with their cash, as is often the case with companies that are selling higher ticket items.

Why? Because you need to know when your PPC activity has resulted in an offline action: in this case, a call.

The user may have visited your site several times since they first landed on your page, but because the lead was initially generated via Google Ads, it still needs to be counted as a conversion from this source.

You will need some basic coding knowledge to set up call tracking with Google Ads, but there are plenty of tutorials online that will guide you through the process. There are plenty of third party tools out there to help you make the most of the tracking data you’re generating, too.

How to set up Google’s basic call tracking feature

The first thing you need to do is set up conversion tracking in your account at the most basic level. It’s the only way to ensure you’ll be tracking and recording the data from your incoming calls.

You’ll need to click on the Tools tab, then head over to the Conversions section. From there, you can create a new conversion tracking script based on phone calls.

You’ll be asked for the main source of the calls you’d like to track – calls from ads using extensions, calls to a phone number on your website, or clicks on your number on your mobile website. Pick the action that matters the most to you. Or, better still, create three different scripts so you can monitor all scenarios.

Features and functions to consider

In the tracking tag itself, you can tell Google how long a phone call needs to last for in order for it to be deemed a conversion. For example, you may want to specify that your sales rep is on the line for longer than 3 minutes, as that’s how long it usually takes for him or her to close the sale.

You can set your conversion window to define the number of days after a click from which an action will be recorded as a conversion. The default setting is 30 days – but if you find that the time between the initial ad click and the purchase or enquiry is often longer, you can extend this to 60 days.

You can also request that Google includes these calls in the ‘Conversions’ column in your campaign report, which will allow you to see all this juicy data at a glance.

Google will generate dynamic forwarding numbers to replace your standard business number on your website – at no extra cost. The system will assign a different forwarding number to each ad, ad group and campaign so you can see exactly which of these is driving the most conversions based on the volume of calls. You will also be able to tell which calls have come directly from your ad extensions, which will display your usual phone number.

Wherever possible, Google will use a dynamically generated number that has the same area code or prefix area of your business, so it won’t look out of place on your ad or your site. All you’ll need to do is make sure the account is set up to show this same number across all the different touch points your users are likely to come across – for example, the ad itself, the landing page that’s been assigned to the ad, and the display ads you’re using within your remarketing activities (if this is applicable).

The same number will appear to the user, even if they revisit your site several weeks after they first clicked on your ad – as long as the visit is within your conversion window. If you prefer, you can make sure each visitor is treated independently by disabling cookies from all tracking services.

Calls can also be tracked from your actual business number, which you can choose to display via ad extensions.

Need help setting up call tracking in your Google ads account? Speak to our PPC consultants!


Bear in mind that Google may not include its forwarding numbers within your desktop ad extensions if your ad group has been receiving a particularly low number of clicks in the last 4-week period. There’s no minimum call requirement for the ‘Call’ button on mobile ads, though.

Go to the Dimensions tab in Google Ads, and you’ll find call tracking data at both campaign and ad group levels. You can view information on the following:

  • Call start time
  • Call end time
  • Call status – whether it was missed or received
  • The caller’s area code
  • The type of call that was made

Run a campaign for a few days or weeks, and you’ll soon learn which of your Google ads campaigns are most effective at driving call conversions. You’ll also begin to discover when your peak times are, which can help with staff planning. After all, there’s no point running ads if no-one’s there to pick up the phone!

Third party tools

Businesses that rely on phone calls to close leads may also benefit from implementing a third party call tracking service, which will provide even more in-depth monitoring and reporting features.

Many of today’s market-leading providers can help you delve deeper into your user’s behaviours by:

  • Tracking calls back to the keywords they used to find you
  • Tracking the web pages they visited before calling you
  • Finding out their name and geographical location based on their phone number
  • Recording the phone conversation to assist with training and quality control

CallRail is one of the many phone software companies that provides data-hungry marketers with all kinds of insightful phone-related metrics. Its system can be used by organisations and their PPC managers to better understand which paid search campaigns are achieving the best results in terms of call conversions.

CallRail’s advanced automation features serve to streamline many common call processes. With its Call Flows function, you can create bespoke automated routing sequences for each of your tracking numbers to make sure that each call reaches the person within your organisation who is best placed to deal with it, based on a range of pre-set criteria. If a call remains unanswered for a certain number of rings, you can tell the software to redirect the line to multiple phones – and if you know you’re short-staffed or going to be closed, you can ask that incoming calls are sent straight to voicemail.

The Activity and Report filters in the analytics dashboard allow you to really drill down into your data and customise your reports with the information you want to see. Plus, you can give monetary worth to your leads by assigning call values to them in CallRail, then feed this data back into Google Ads.

Of course, CallRail isn’t the only call tracking software provider available. There are plenty of other companies out there offering similarly impressive pieces of kit. Take a look at this comparison guide from Capterra if you need help finding the right solution at the right price.

Or, better still, talk to the team here at Multi Layer Media – we have decades of combined experience in implementing call tracking software for our paid search clients.

Posted By
Kevin Hilton