The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords Call Tracking

If you have a business that can take inbound sales calls, you’ll want to make sure your phone number is displayed on your Google paid search ads. Since this can be a huge win for companies, especially those with complicated sales processes or a great sales team who knows how to close the deal, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about setting up and optimizing your call tracking in Google AdWords.

What is Call Tracking?

Call tracking within AdWords gives advertisers the ability to add phone numbers to campaigns, either as Call Extensions or as the basis of Call Only campaigns. When using Google’s call tracking, you input your real phone number to the engine and within the ad, and Google masks it with their own Google number, which differs with each search for which you are eligible. A Google number is used over your regular phone number so that the engine can track any calls coming from your specific ads. If a user chooses to write down the phone number, versus calling right away – that’s OK too. Because of the specific phone number, Google can still tie these calls to your ads. Beyond just adding phone numbers to your ads, Google also allows you to add code to your website which will dynamically change the phone number on your site when a user accesses it via an ad click. This is so Google can catch, and allow you to optimize for, calls that are not taking place from the ad itself, but on the website after a user clicks on an ad.

How do I set up Call Conversions in Google?

Go to the Tools section of AdWords and under Measurement, access the Conversions page. From here, select Phone Calls and you’ll be walked through how to set up your call tracking for AdWords.

Should I add a value or time threshold to my Call Conversions?

For most clients, we count the number of calls received and focus on our cost-per-call, however, you also have the option to add a set value for each inbound call you receive, which further allows you to track your ROAS – or Return on Ad Spend. To do this, you want to understand the value of a closed phone deal for your business, then back out the rate at which your calls close and spread the revenue across each call. For example, if a closed deal via phone averages $500 in revenue, and you close 1 in 10 calls (500/10), you would value all calls at $50. Sometimes it takes advertisers a bit of tracking internally to get this equation right, and it often needs updating for high or low periods in your business to be used effectively. However, if you choose to place a monetary value on your calls, you’ll be able to compare it to your cost as you optimize. If you spent $100 to get 10 calls worth $50 each ($500), then your ROAS is $5 for every dollar you spent. Similarly, if you spend $800 to get 10 calls worth $50 each, you’re only making $0.62 on each call and you campaign needs further optimization to at least break even.

Another option here is to add a “time threshold” to your calls before allowing AdWords to count them as true conversions. This can be used with the value feature up above, or as a stand-alone function – as long as it’s done carefully and in such a way that data isn’t so limited that your PPC Manager cannot optimize. Some clients simply make this threshold 30 seconds, in hopes that the call was answered, whereas we have other clients who make this a bit more specific to what they’ve learned from their internal sales team. For example, some clients who track their calls that have turned into sales may find data that estimate that the average time spent on the phone is 7 minutes if a deal is closed. They may choose to specify a time threshold of 7 minutes, or 420 seconds, before allowing AdWords to count this call as a conversion.

What types of call-related ads can I run?

Right now, the two main places to generate calls for your business in Google Search are in Call Extensions and in Call-Only ads.

Adding your phone number as a call extension allows your Google phone number to show below your regular ad that shows for a given search query – just like any other extension, assuming you are in a top position and eligible to show extensions. On a desktop, your call extension appears as an actual Google phone number, whereas on mobile it will show as a Call button. This is how you’ll want to show your phone number if phone sales are just an extension of your business (but not the real meat of it; i.e. you also do online sales, etc.). A user will be given the option to call your business, but if they click on the ad headline, or nearly any other ad extension, they will be taken to your website or chosen landing page.

Call-Only ads are a bit different, but absolutely should be tested, primarily if phone calls are your main objective or how your business closes the majority of its sales. Call-Only ads are designed to only show on devices that make phone calls, and the only option they give a searcher is to call – not to visit your website or take another action. To create these, you’ll need to add your phone number, plus a “Verification URL” which will ensure the phone number on your site matches the phone number you’ve given to Google. These ads display as a Call button or Click-to-Call on most devices, and anywhere a user clicks on the ad will activate a direct phone call.

What metrics should I be looking at?         

There are lots of helpful metrics to review when looking at your phone call data. To get an accurate picture of your performance, we recommend adding these columns to your AdWords view at varying levels (Campaign, Adgroup, Ads, Keywords, Extensions, etc.)

Phone Impressions – The amount of times your phone number was shown on an ad (may be masked by a Google Call Tracking number).

Phone Calls – The amount of phone calls received from your ads.

PTR (Phone-through rate) – Out of all the phone impressions, this is the percentage of people who called your business from an ad.

Conversions, Total Conversions Value (Revenue), Conversion Rate, Cost/Conv (Cost Per Call), and Conv Value/Cost (ROAS) – If you’ve chosen to set up conversion tracking, as described above, you’ll also want to look at these columns when optimizing, as this is the data on the phone calls that meet the criteria you specified. Note: If your business tracks other conversions beyond calls (like online sales), you’ll want to create Custom Columns for each of these metrics and use a Segment that only shows this data for the phone calls, and not other conversion types. AdWords has a habit of muddling up your conversion data when you are tracking multiple actions, so be sure to parse this out.

If you are interested in reviewing even further data, head over to Reports > Predefined Reports > Extensions > Call Extensions and open the left navigation bar. From here, you can get even more details on your calls. Unless sorted by phone conversions only, this will be data for all calls made to your business from an ad, whether answered or not. This data was previously available in the Dimensions tab of the old AdWords interface.

How do I optimize call extensions?

While there are many ways to optimize your call extensions, here’s our process for optimization and some tactics that might be helpful for your account. This is called “Zeroing In”.

So, what can you zero in on? Just about anything. We start our optimization process by asking ourselves a variety of questions, answering them and then sorting them into what we think is most impactful for our business before we dive into the data. That’s what we’ve done below.

  • What day of the week do I get the most phone calls from ads?
  • What day are they the most expensive and the cheapest?
  • Which cities do I get the most calls from on my ads?

Once you’ve developed and sorted your question into which answers can be most impactful, start from the top and begin mining for data.

Question #1 & #2: What day of the week do I get the most phone calls from ads? What days are they the most expensive and the cheapest?

To find this data, we headed over to the reporting section and looked at the Day of the Week report in the Predefined Reports. Then, we removed all columns except Cost/Conv and Conversions since that is how we look at phone calls on our ads that have met our given criteria (again, you would need to segment this if you tracked anything beyond calls as conversions).  Then, we converted this table into a simple bar chart.

From this chart, we’ve learned that Tuesdays and Wednesdays produce the most amount of phone calls (conversions) for the lowest cost, and Saturday and Sunday only produce a small amount of calls at a very high cost. So, what’s next is your call (no pun tended, but we’ll pat ourselves on the back anyway). Based on this we might choose to schedule call extensions and Call-Only campaigns to pause on Saturday and Sunday. We might also choose to minimize our bids on these days of the week, or zoom in even more to an Hour of Day report to see if there are any hours that do well within those days that we could schedule around instead of cutting the full days. For Tuesday and Wednesday, we would want to maximize the amount of times our phone number shows on these days. That might look like increasing campaign budgets for Call-Only campaigns or campaigns with associated Call Extensions, or even reviewing bid adjustments for Call Extensions and increasing them if there is room to do so.

Questions #3: Which cities do I get the most calls from on my ads?

Understanding where callers are coming from, and where they are not, can be super hepful for optimization. To find this data, we went to Reports > Predefined Reports > Geographic and removed all data except City and Conversions and put into a pie chart.

From this, we learn that New Orleans and Baton Rouge get the most amount of Conversions (or calls, in our account). Again, what you do with this data is up to you, however, we might review our campaign setup and consider having breakouts just for New Orleans and for Baton Rouge, while negating those cities from the existing campaigns. If we did, we could parse out this data to better watch performance, and make sure the campaign targeting these cities is always well funded. With a breakout, we might also want to have even more specific or personalized ads for people searching in these cities to further increase conversion rate. Or, if we don’t want to do a city-specific breakout, we might look at Locations in our settings and add increased bid adjustments specifically for these cities. That will give our ads, and thereby our extensions, a better chance of showing more often and at higher positions in those cities.

Beyond Google Call Extensions?

While the above is a robust take on Google AdWords’ call tracking and call features for ads, there are many other third-party call tracking providers that have systems to integrate easily into your AdWords campaigns. So, what’s the interest in a third-party provider? Well, for us – Google isn’t yet tracking the actual call conversations and making them available for us to hear. Many other call tracking partners allow for this at an extra cost. Having recordings of all calls can help campaigns tremendously – you can spot if there’s any confusion upfront and adjust ads and marketing materials accordingly, you can make webpages to address some of the most commonly asked questions, come up with new campaign ideas from listening to interactions and more.

If you have any questions about Google AdWords Call Tracking, setting up conversions or need some help as you are optimizing or figuring out how to integrate a third-party provider, please reach out to us. We’re just a phone call away!

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