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Thursday, Sep. 17, 2009 at 11:48 am

Track Calls, Not Just Clicks

By Melissa Burdon
September 17th, 2009

call_trackingWhen you think of improving your web site’s conversion rate, you probably think of increasing sales or leads online. The “clicks’ are the actions you are tracking as conversions for your web site.

One of my clients from over a year ago, was successfully implementing our recommendations. He was seeing increases in his conversion rate, measuring success in “clicks”, or more orders being completed online. After speaking with one of his customer service reps one day, I was informed that her call volume had increased substantially since working with us. She was also able to convert a high percentage of these callers into sales because they were better informed. Unfortunately, because they weren’t tracking these calls as conversions, we were unable to prove to the owners that call volume and conversion rates from phone calls were a measure of the success of our project.

It’s just as important to track phone calls, not just clicks, as conversions for your web site.

For some high ticket items, or for some industries that are more cutting edge, visitors may be more likely to want to speak with a representative in order to get questions answered, gain confidence and place an order via phone. There will always be the visitors who simply don’t feel comfortable placing an order online and want to speak with a live person in order to place their order. These conversions should not be ignored. The improvements you make to your site will directly affect call volume and the conversion rate of these calls.

Now, you can track your call analytics alongside your web analytics. Not only can you view the number of phone calls but you can also set the phone call URL as a goal in Google Analytics, so that you can see the value of these calls. Now you can calculate offline conversions, which have resulted from online marketing efforts.

By using unique phone numbers for your different marketing communications channels, you can track which traffic source generated the call, allowing the company to improve their overall marketing campaigns. When a visitor is referred from one of the traffic sources, a unique phone number will appear on your web site, allowing you to track conversion rates for phone calls. This will help you determine which keywords, sites, or PPC campaigns generate the most phone calls, and in turn, which ones result in successful conversions via phone.

Check out this screencast to see how ifbyphone has integrated their solution with Google Analytics.

Screencast –

Are you tracking your calls and your clicks properly?

Add Your Comments

Comments (57)

  1. It is so true that calls are just as important to track. This is especially important when your business gets most of its leads from phone calls rather than online inquiries. It’s also important to know where those calls are coming from. Good article!

  2. Melissa,

    Terrific explanation about the importance of Call Tracking and thank you for referencing Ifbyphone’s Call Tracking Screencast and Service.

    I’d like to invite your readers to learn more about call tracking best practices on our blog.

  3. Melissa:

    Superb-o. Not surprised few smb’s track calls. My clients’ key action is calls and boy-howdy it’s been a chore to track, measure and act on call data. A few years back, built a kludgy app to track calls as the other offerings about were feature-poor and eck-spensivo.

    Re-checked out the ifbyphone (odd name) offerings. Good stuff, great price — will likely leverage their geekery for future clients.

    Thanks for the pointer.

  4. Well written, it usually takes some lengthy conversations with a clients to help them understand the benefits of call tracking. We like to position it as “closing the loop” on your marketing efforts. It’s easy to track the on site actions with GA or conversion codes but what happens when someone picks up the phone? Our service also integrates with Google Analytics: and is quite cost effective.

  5. This is a great explanation! More small business owners need to realize the potential behind call tracking.


    Ilya Bodner

  6. We do need to start tracking phone calls as “clicks” when doing reports. I know any brick and mortar store tracks all phone calls that are in the sales field and managers hound them about making conversions. Great reminder.

  7. Calls are so unbelievably important… I remember telling a client they should get a special line, just for calls to track from X website, from Y website, from Z website, and when he did the company saw a bottom in increase of 12%.

  8. Indeed, tracking phone call is a very important thing to do. Especially when we deal with client because I believe this is how we gain trust and relation with client. Good Article

  9. Good Article!!!! Tracking phone calls is really important. Without it some of the reports might look quite dull. Web Analyst can break his head thinking why on the earth the Conversion is not increasing even though the company has invested so much of money (without paying any salaries). Years before one of our client had same issue. We thought of taking the offline data (phone calls) & then co-relate with online data. There you go we had work so well with the conversion rate. I think it’s always important to co-relate the offline data with online. It gives great insight.

  10. This is so true, I’m currently trying to track my phone calls to follow their convertions.
    Very nice article!

  11. i’ve never really understood the importance of call tracking until i’ve read this post

    the explanation was easy to understand and very relevant

    thank you!

  12. Interesting and insightful article. I hadn’t even thought about tracking calls before. I’m glad I read this.

  13. this is a good review for me, thank you

  14. thank’s for the info, may be useful for me to…

  15. Thanks, this is a great article! However, I have to disagree with you about the usefulness of using a unique phone number. One of my past clients did as you suggested and had unique phone numbers for every media they advertised in. This worked great for advertising in print media since the consumer has teh phone number right in their hands. However for radio, the phone number wasn’t catchy, singable or easy to remember so the call in leads for radio were always much lower than for every form of print media this client used. I have no doubt that many consumers who heard my clients radio ads went to their website or print ads to get more information, then dialed those numbers and not the unique radio station phone number.

    I believe that it is far better for a business to use all of their marketing energy to drive consumers to a single source, most often their website. I also believe that is it more powerful to track the absolute conversion rate as the metric for advertising success. By that I mean, the number of consumers who buy from your business compared to the number who investigate your business ie. walk-ins, web traffic, call-ins

  16. We spoke to ifbyphone 3 months ago looking for this solution. They did not have it but LISTENED to what we as Site Optimists” wanted.

    We ended up developing this in house for the client. No saying we gave the idea to ifbyphone, but it shows what happens when a company listens. Now they are the only ones with the solution and we’ll get our customers on board.

  17. Making cold calling is hard at the beggining, but when you have experience and skills you can get greater results!

  18. Thanks! That screen cast was pretty good for integrating their solution.

  19. You can subscribe to companies like onebox who allow you a unique 888 number for a number you’d like to track. So if you placed an ad in the paper you can use the number and track it using their reports. I’m sure theirs other companies but this is pretty handy.

  20. 1 on 1 sales are just as valuable as those click thru’s and you can get a good contact even if they do not buy. It also gives you the unique opportunity to ask if they have any friends, colleagues that would be interested in your service or product. Good article Melissa.

  21. thanks a lot for your very helpfull for me to understand about it

  22. Phone calls are soo important and very valuable. I would much rather get a call than a click. At least with a call I can try to use human emotions to try to covert the customer….

  23. I find that phone calls can provide better long term customers than just someone who is browsing and happens to stop past at your site. I suppose it depends on the type of business you are running

  24. [...] Source:Track Calls, Not Just Clicks Share and Enjoy: [...]

  25. I couldn’t agree more. Tracking calls is as important as tracking clicks. Anyway, I can see that you have put hard work through your contents. I’m sure I’d come here more often. By the way, you might be interested in some FREE Marketer Tools. You might wanna check it out. Thanks!

  26. [...] blogged on this subject before, but now comes Melissa Burdon with a similar message on FutureNow …which basically [...]

  27. Every business should track calls & clicks. Not only it helps to track the conversions but I’ve used it to test new campaigns as well. Always be tracking as much as you can.
    Social Media Marketing

  28. Its true that we lay more importance on building a brand rather than worrying for one or two sales. Tracking calls is one way to have a long term benefit, only those who wish to earn for short time should stress on the clicks

    Serious webmasters or marketers always think of future and thus they visualize important things just as you did:)

  29. There are two ways to generate more revenue. Either with Marketing, making it more efficient by lowering your cost per acquisition or produce higher qualified leads. Second, more importantly, through Sales People. Typically, it isn’t the marketing that is the issue, but rather how the phone call was handled. Let’s face it, even if you generate 1,000 phone calls, if the CSR or Sales Coordinator botches the call you’re not gonna set an appointment or sell anything at the end of the month.

    CallSource holds a patent on call-track technology and has been around since 1991. With over 10,000 clients including Ebay,, Valpak, ReachLocal and Champion Windows to name a few. There’s more than just call-tracking that will help you convert more of your leads into actual sales. Stop by and take a look at the future of call tracking.

  30. Jas – you are right, there is more than just call-tracking that helps revenue go up and cost per lead going down. Ifbyphone has all those features as well. What small business owners need to realize is that this technology used to be extremely expensive 5 years ago, now it is a few cents per minute.


    Ilya Bodner

  31. Ilya, you are correct, it has gotten cheaper than what it was 5 years ago. There are many tracking companies out there now. As you and I both know, when you are the innovator of a product competition will enter the market to capture market share. Through competition and competing products, Call Tracking has steadily succumbed to price compression. The only way to separate yourself from other low cost alternatives is the relationship that you build with your clients.

    Additionally, if you innovate new products that work in conjunction with call tracking, you create a Revenue Management System instead of a simple call-track program. We can then separate ourselves from the hassles of trying to negotiate price. Companies aren’t in business to cut expenses, companies are in business to generate revenue. Software is easy, Results are hard. CallSource manufactures Results through training.

  32. that screenshot was pretty uplifting, thanks for the read too.

  33. I have never realized how important call tracking is until i read this article.
    And this article is insightful.
    it is obvious to see where the calls are coming from.
    thanks for the incredible post.

  34. As a follow up to the blog post, Ifbyphone has just released a number of updates to our call tracking tools. You now have the ability to group call tracking numbers into campaigns, then view custom reports based on campaign. For example, get unique call tracking reports for your PPC, SEO, & Banner Ad Campaigns. Alternatively, group phone numbers by client and then pull unique reports for each client.

    @Marc Binkley – Another way to track calls if you want a “catchy” phone number is to offer a “PROMO CODE” in your ad. When prospects call into your catchy number, prompt them for the promo code. There are many variations for this if you’d like to discuss call Ifbyphone.

    @Keith – We certainly do listen to the needs of our customers. Thanks for the mention. Our version 3.0 release this spring and our version 3.1 release this fall were both based on requests from customers.

  35. When you think of improving your web site’s conversion rate, you probably think of increasing sales or leads online. The “clicks’ are the actions you are tracking as conversions for your web site.

    Do you think Google Analytics is the best tool for this job?

  36. We track the phone sales from our website very closely. Many companies over look this. Thanks for posting this.

  37. Recently we implemented a technique similar to that mentioned in the article and it was assessed among our customers what words were they researching our products on the internet and also would like to hear the phone. And we obtained valuable information that are being applied with excellent results.
    Thanks. Great post!

  38. Totally track those calls! I just did a site redesign for a furniture store, and needed to force the owner to put his number in bold in the header. The next day he started getting more calls.

  39. Thanks for sharing nice tips, these are helpful for us.

  40. Very very true information – leads are almost as important as clicks, so knowing what conversion rate is low means that you know what you need to improve upon.

  41. I agree with every word. I work in insurance area and part of our clients feel safer to order by phone. Implementing your method and then merging more data into GA might enlarge our information and may very useful for making decisions

  42. I thank you for this informative article. And I thank you for this I follow your vendors. It’s verry good. I wish you continued success.

  43. Thanks, Melissa… aka senior persuasian analyst :)

    I’ve set the phone call URL in Google Analytics just as you suggested – it’s implemented on our detroit computer repair site … and now I have seen an increase in ROI!

    The next step will be to implement a unique phone number.

    Thanks for the screencast.

  44. Previously disapointed that the work we had done on our site seemed to have little effect. I have now tried your idea on ourretractable barriers site and am pleased to say now we track calls all the effort has been worth while

  45. This topic is a really informative one…
    Ec Karte Sperren

  46. tracking call is a major objective especially when the business done is from phone calls….good article thanks
    snowboarding guy

  47. This is not the first of your posts I’ve read, and you never cease to amaze me. Thank you, and I look forward to reading more.

  48. Kind of embarrassing to admit I did not know any of this before.. but good to know now :) Thanks!

  49. I don’t have much to say about the subject as I am impartial myself, but as far the format of your website, very nicely done :)

  50. @ ROI

    It is amazing what just putting a number in bold will do. I had a client who wasn’t getting much traffic, and they didn’t even have a contact, or info button on their landing page. No wonder!

  51. As far as tracking calls, I stand somewhere in the middle. Don’t ignore them, but also don’t micro manage to the point where employee suffer along with the end user experience for your target market.

  52. I believe that it is far better for a business to use all of their marketing energy to drive consumers to a single source, most often their website. I also believe that is it more powerful to track the absolute conversion rate as the metric for advertising success

  53. Mongoose Metrics also provides call tracking software which will allow you to determine to the keyword level what marketing sources are driving your conversions.

  54. call tracking is a very important, often missed element. switchboardfree offer google analytics integrated call tracking using non geographic numbers. And the bonus is that it is completely free to use when directed towards a UK geographic number.

  55. It is really hard to integrate call clicks with web clicks. However, if you have integrated click to call where you know the web is driving a call to your call center, it makes it easier to group those data.

  56. [...] blogs are all pushing for Call Tracking technology. SearchEngineLand, SearchEngineWatch, and FutureNow are just three [...]

  57. [...] blogs are all pushing for Call Tracking technology. SearchEngineLand, SearchEngineWatch, and FutureNow are just three [...]

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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