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What is Call Tracking?

Call tracking allows businesses to see which ads or marketing channels are driving inbound calls to their business.

With call tracking software, you can purchase and assign phone numbers to different marketing channels or campaigns to see which performs best.


Most people reading this article may have heard about call tracking or, call tracking software. Generally, the term conjures up images of crowded call centers, with operators calling people up to sell them items they often don’t need.

While call centers and helicopter parents use call tracking software to monitor the quality of calls or the type of calls being made, there are much more important uses of call tracking: the most important of which is marketing

The call tracking software for marketing is very different as marketers use it to optimize their marketing campaigns.

So, the question you’re probably asking is: why should you know about call tracking? If you’re not law enforcement, aren’t a marketer, or a helicopter parent, why is understanding how call tracking works important?

What Does Call Tracking Software Do?

It is important to start by saying that there are various types of call tracking software. The features embedded in the software differ greatly depending on who they are geared towards.

Generally, the use of call tracking software enables marketers to gather data from phone conversations their agents or customer service people have with customers. It helps them (businesses) identify what marketing campaign happened to drive that phone call and its result. 

Take, for instance, if you are calling a business using call tracking, the business can track what ads you checked, the keywords you typed to find them, and what web pages you visited. Yes! It is scary, but we assure you there is nothing malicious going on here, at least with most legitimate businesses.

Some of the more advanced call tracking software can analyze the language being used during the call to determine if you ended up buying something, maybe booked an appointment, or asked for a quote. In other words, did you convert? The data is then used to further optimize campaigns, social media pages, and ads to help drive more targeted customers.

Before the advent of advanced call tracking software, it was near impossible for businesses to determine what marketing efforts were converting, i.e., sales. Today, the software is immensely powerful and helps businesses track just about every metric they would need to finetune their campaigns.

How Tracking Phone Calls Work In A Nutshell

Modern call tracking uses a few different tricks like dynamic number insertion and cookies to mainly track online activity. We will go into marketing call tracking software in the next section. Generally, call tracking will log calls and tell you who is calling if that data is available. It will also tell you if this person is calling you the second or third time.

Businesses with a physical location can set up a line tracking number to track all calls to the mainline. Here too, the tracking system is mainly to help the customer’s experience, often to provide a more customized service. However, it can also be used to track the success of a marketing campaign and understand lead conversion stats.

Businesses can see which marketing channels are generating the most calls for them, in addition to knowing the source of the call. Businesses can also track metadata like

  • Call recording

  • The name and location of the caller (tracking data)

  • Record a transcription of the call

The Evolution of Call Tracking

Call tracking has been around for a while now and has mainly been a way for marketers to track phone numbers as part of their campaigns. During the early days, they would count how many calls each campaign happened to bring in. Each campaign was assigned a tracking number. For instance, newspaper ads had a unique number assigned, followed by radio ads, with another unique number and billboard ads.

PPC ads were assigned different numbers compared to those on the company’s website. The number of customers mainly showed which of their ads were driving conversions.

Today, just about anyone will encounter a business’s marketing or sales effort and often many times a day before they answer the phone. A customer may start by seeing a Facebook ad for a product, then they Google the business, later click their PPC ad, and then see more ads (called retargeting ads) throughout the time they are online. So, the question is, how do marketers attribute weight to all of these encounters?

As it turns out, the solution is what’s called multi-channel lead attribution. Modern call tracking software uses cookies and a dynamic number insertion system to quickly track online activities, in addition to campaign-level tracking. Every piece of offline marketing content is assigned its own tracking number.

It is also possible for location-based businesses to set up their mainline tracking number to ensure that all calls they get to the mainline are tracked. This tracking allows businesses to get a better picture of how well their marketing efforts are performing.

The entire journey would be tracked from the time a customer, for instance, interacted with an ad on Facebook to the time they call the company. The marketer or business that the marketer is working for would eventually be able to understand why the customer converted based on the call tracking data collected. All of this had come a long way from when marketing required needing to directly call prospects, often calling up numbers in the Yellow Pages. Though it is still used today, it isn’t the best use of any business’s resources.

Call tracking helps businesses take the smart and often more effective approach to determining what works.

How Does A Marketing Call Tracking System Work?

Honestly, it depends on the call tracking provider. Each type of call tracking system or software works slightly differently. Take Invoca, for instance, which is a cloud-based call tracking software or call tracking platform that tracks customers’ journey through the sales funnel. The data is collected via trackable phone numbers, coupled with website tags and analytics.

The tracking tag is mainly a snippet of JavaScript code that’s added to the web page and automatically replaces static phone numbers with dynamic and trackable ones. The codes are unique to every visitor and work as a unique identifier for a person’s website session.

In addition, to capturing phone numbers, the embedded code may also capture other data like paid search keyword(s), UTM source, Google clickID, and medium. That’s in addition to other customer journey information like unique customer identifiers extracted from the browser cookie. Even though the data may seem to be overwhelming to someone who has not used the software or has no use for it, it is essential to understand what marketing tactics are driving conversions.

Generally, when a person calls this special phone number tied to the software, the inbound phone calls will be routed to the call center or a local agent. The digital data is then aggregated, with the caller’s previous data tied to the present phone call. All of this happens in mere seconds, and callers can’t tell if they are being tracked.

Using Call Tracking With Paid Search

Marketers working for businesses will often employ call tracking to optimize their paid search campaigns. However, it is also used to personalize the caller’s experience, ensuring a better experience for clients or customers. The major benefit of call tracking is reduced cost per click for various paid search campaigns like Google AdWords, for instance, a reduced cost per acquisition and a higher return on ad spend.

What Businesses Benefit Most From Call Tracking Software?

Just about any industry that heavily relies on inbound calls for customer acquisition should use call tracking. Call tracking makes it easier to understand which marketing programs may be driving the most value and then optimize them accordingly.

Businesses in the home services, automotive, insurance, financial services, real estate, and telecom tend to benefit most from call tracking.

It really goes without saying that call tracking can and is often made to work for just about any industry, from marketing agencies to businesses providing HIPPA compliance. Large businesses use it to track sales and understand marketing data, while it can help small business owners looking to maximize their leads coming in through SEO or even word of mouth.

Businesses often invest in multiple marketing campaigns and want to see where their leads and traffic come from should use call tracking. Small business owners who don’t have a website and generate business solely through word of mouth may probably not benefit greatly from call tracking. However, they may want to invest in a website, online marketing campaign, and call tracking to grow their business.

How Much Does A Call Tracking System Cost?

What you pay for the call tracking software will vary greatly depending on what your business needs. Generally, call tracking providers offer various plans that are broken down into tiers and at CallScaler, we start at $49 per month.

Call tracking software is mostly subscription-based like any Software As A Service (SaaS) model. The beauty of this model is that the software owners can continue to work on it, often making behind the scene improvements. Users, on the other hand, are billed monthly or annually.

It is worth figuring out what the software will cost your business not only today but a year from today. As your needs grow, the software should be able to accommodate them.


Q. How Long Has Call Tracking Existed?

A. Call tracking has been around in some form or the other since the time we have had telephones, and it was used for business. While early forms of call tracking, as you’d imagine, were rudimentary compared to dynamic call tracking we can do today. Businesses have always wanted to know how people have heard about them. By knowing how customers heard about them allowed businesses to understand what marketing campaigns were producing results.

guy on phone setting up a call tracking system

Q. Why Is Dynamic Number Insertion Used?

A. Dynamic number insertion, also called DNI, is mainly a feature used by many call tracking software and works by assigning a unique phone number to every online source. Then those numbers or phone numbers are shown to the visitors who arrive on the website via specific sources. For instance, phone number A will be shown to visitors that arrive from Facebook, while phone number B is shown for visitors who clicked on an AdWords ad. DNI makes tracking phone calls a lot easier and more efficient.

track phone calls in your business

Q. How Does Call Tracking Affect Local SEO?

A. The short answer to this is dynamic tracking does not affect SEO. Even the best call tracking software will not affect your SEO and NAP consistency. Many people assume that call tracking can have an adverse effect on local SEO or their NAP consistency. 

That said, if you set it up correctly and make sure it is run correctly, it (call tracking) does not affect SEO. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that it positively helps you leverage the organic traffic that comes to the website. That’s one of the reasons why everyone should track phone calls.

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