CTM Blog


How to Track Your Phone Calls in Google Ads Using CallTrackingMetrics

by Erika Rollins

Guest post by Patience Hurlburt-Lawton

Phone call conversions can make up a big chunk of your overall lead flow from Google Ads. But then again, not every call ends in a sale (although that would be exciting). 

This is why tracking these conversions accurately inside Google Ads is essential to the success of your campaigns. 

Here’s what I mean: 

Agencies often use the “elapsed time of the call” to determine the quality of a phone call lead. In other words, whether it’s a five-second call or a five-minute call, it’s counted as a conversion. That means tons of advertisers count every call as a conversion, even if it’s a robo dial or spam. Sadly, these folks are wasting loads of money on bad leads––hurting their campaigns’ efficiency and effectiveness in finding more “good” leads and ultimately, in growing their business.

So, let’s turn this thing around, shall we?

I’m going to share how to improve your inbound calls and get more quality leads that will reduce your cost per acquisition and increase your ROI. But first, let’s talk about Google’s call conversion tool and why it’s not enough to bring you solid data to rely on.

The Truth About Google’s Call Conversion Tool 

We all know how powerful Google is when it comes to their learning algorithm. It’s so much more than just a search engine. So, it’s no surprise that it has phone call conversion tracking that shows you the number of leads who contacted you after seeing or clicking your ad. Once Google understands who those people are, it uses its learning algorithm to find more of the same types of people who contacted you.

Unfortunately, this is where Google falls short––its call conversion tracking is limitedMost of the time, when using their conversion tool, we find that only about 25% of calls are real. Out of those calls, only a few are of good quality. That’s because the only metric you can use to validate a conversion is through call length––if the call lasts for a certain period, it’s counted as a conversion.

Robo calls, spam, wrong number? They can all be counted as conversions, regardless of what actually happened in the call. The result? You get more of the same “bad” leads. If you’re feeding Google the wrong data, you’re going to get the wrong people. Yikes.

But here’s the good news: you don’t have to settle for subpar results brought by Google’s conversion tool. Simply pairing your Google call conversions with a proven call tracking software can make all the difference. Enter CallTrackingMetrics.

Why CallTrackingMetrics Is the Best Alternative Tool for Tracking, Analyzing, and Managing Inbound Phone Calls.

CallTrackingMetrics is a robust all-in-one call management tool we use at Solutions 8 to track and record all incoming calls from paid ads and attribute those calls to their keyword level––helping us optimize our clients’ campaigns, increase conversions, and lower our cost per acquisition.

We’ve been using CallTrackingMetrics for so many years we actually recommend our own clients use it––and for good reason.

With CallTrackingMetrics, you can:

  1. Analyze, score, and listen to recorded conversations. We don’t rely on just the length of the calls alone, especially if they’re less than 30 seconds. We judge it by what the call is about. Sure, it might be a 5-minute conversation. But if it’s a customer complaint or someone who wants to learn more about the product or service—we don’t count that as a lead.
  2. Easy to use, user-friendly, and highly affordable. Not tech savvy? No problem. CTM’s navigation is intuitive as heck. That said, if you ever need help, their customer support is fantastic; their team can walk you through any process you need help with and answer questions you may have. One more thing: It’s arguably the one of the most affordable inbound call tracking softwares in the world. Unlike other softwares that charge per user, CTM charges per minute––as low as $0.03 per minute!
  3. Seamlessly connect your data to your favorite marketing apps. CallTrackingMetrics integrates with over 40 marketing apps, allowing you to use your favorite marketing software without the need to migrate or use third-party apps. Since we’re a PPC agency, connecting to Google Ads, Analytics, and Data Studio has never been so easy.
  4. Apply tags, scores, order amount, and more attributes to help you qualify customers. By applying tags, scores, and other attributes to distinguish good calls from bad, you can better qualify the right prospect or customer. Using the data you have, you’ll get a better idea of what your customers want, and use it to optimize your keywords and improve your ads.

How to Use CallTrackingMetrics in 5 Easy Steps

  1. Identify where the call came from. With CallTrackingMetrics, you can identify where calls are coming from. This shows up in the “Source” column in your CallTrackingMetrics dashboard.
    • Google Ads – this means the user clicked on the ad, went to the website, and called your number.
    • Google Ad Extension – this means the user saw your ad and directly called the number indicated in your ad extension.

Knowing where calls come from can help you identify how to optimize your campaigns. For example, if you’re getting wrong dials or customer-service type of calls from Google Ad Extensions, then you might want to adjust your keywords or remove your number from the ad itself so that people won’t mistake it for another company.

This saves you from unnecessary charges that can hurt your marketing expenses.

  1. Listen to each call. One of the most effective things you can do to improve the quality of your Google Ads campaigns is to avoid counting leads as conversions based on call length alone. Listening to each call and identifying them correctly will help you understand what the call is about and assess whether it’s a conversion or not.

Listen to Your Calls

As you can see in the image above, in the “audio” column, the highlighted call lasted for one minute and 29 seconds. Almost every agency out there would have considered this a conversion. But if you listen to the recording (which we did), you’ll find that it’s about a user who has an issue with the product they bought from the company. 

Interpreting this as a conversion would have been detrimental to our campaign. We may have been hitting our conversions based on data but in reality, we would’ve just been counting “fake conversions” that would only lead to discrepancies in our cost per acquisition.

That said, on average, we found that a 60-second call is usually what counts as a conversion. Anything around 30 seconds is too short. Anything longer than 90 seconds could be good or bad; it’s a tossup. 

But for your business, it might be different. That’s why it’s extremely beneficial to listen to your calls and score them effectively.

  1. Score your calls. At Solutions 8, we have a team dedicated to listening and scoring the calls. Once we identify what the call is about, we score it based on its quality.  If it’s a good call, we mark it ‘5 stars’ and add a note of which category it belongs to.  If it’s a bad call, we mark it ‘zero’ and add a note of which category it belongs to.

Score Your Calls

And yes, we only use 5 stars or zero––nothing in between. This helps us make better and faster decisions, but, you can easily score your calls anywhere from zero to 5 stars if you choose. 

By differentiating the good calls from the bad calls, you can make optimizations inside of your campaign ​​​​​​​and decide where your ad spend needs to go, and how to make your campaigns better. 

  1. Capture the amount. Another strategy to understand how much your phone sales contribute to your total sales is to capture the amount of each conversion. This works well with eCommerce businesses, especially those who use Google Smart Shopping.

You can see in the image below that the highlighted call was counted as a conversion amounting to $384.00. 

Capture Conversion Amount

This helps us connect the calls we receive with real data. Knowing true numbers is what Google Ads is all about. By using CallTrackingMetrics to capture the amount of conversions, you know when you’re actually making money. You can easily use that data to make decisions on whether your campaign is profitable or not, and make the necessary adjustments to your keywords and campaign.

  1. Import the calls. What makes CallTrackingMetrics so useful is that you can upload your calls in Google Ads quickly and easily. Here’s how:

Pro Tip: CTM’s new Google Ads Direct Connect integration makes this process even easier by automatically sending conversion data directly into Google Ads. 

  1. Go to the conversion area of your Google Ads campaign.
    Conversion Import
  2. Go to the “uploads” section.Upload Conversions
  3. Select a template from Google here that most closely matches your process (e.g. offline conversions, call conversions) and download.
  4. Modify the conversion action name in that template to match the conversion action name in your campaign Google can match them together.
  5. Upload the GCLID of that conversion and give it a conversion value.
  6. Upload it to Google by clicking the “+” button.
  7. You can choose the source, whether that’s from Google Sheets, HTTPS, or SFTP. Once it’s uploaded, it matches the file you have in Google Ads. And 24-48 hours later, Google will tell you where it’s coming from.

How frequently should you upload your calls?

It depends on the type of business and your process. For ecommerce, we usually upload calls monthly because that’s how often we do our reporting. For lead generation, we usually upload it weekly because that’s how frequently we meet our clients. But again, it depends. For high-volume campaigns, we might even do it every couple days.

How CallTrackingMetrics Script Works on Site

Once a user views your ad, CallTrackingMetrics provides a unique tracking number that will replace the phone number on your site. This number dynamically changes but it won’t affect anything in your campaign. 

Here’s what it looks like:

The dynamic number that CallTrackingMetric uses helps you track the exact source of each call. 

Final Thoughts

While it doesn’t require an expert level of skill to implement this process, it can become time-consuming, especially if you’re getting a high volume of calls a day. My advice is to have a dedicated person (or team) whose only job is to perform this task efficiently. 

To summarize that task:

  • Identify where the call comes from
  • Listen to each call
  • Score your calls
  • Capture the amount
  • Import the calls

And that’s how you can track revenue-generating calls and use them to your advantage.

With the help of CallTrackingMetrics, and with a proven system in place, you’ll be able to leverage the awesome power of the best advertising platform on the planet, and drive more leads and convert more customers for your business.

Patience Hurlburt-Lawton is the Director of Marketing for Solutions 8, a digital agency specializing in paid advertising and Google Ads. Patience helps develop content and marketing strategies for her clients and, when she’s out of the office, can be found traveling the globe (often with her dog) and listening to Radiohead. Connect with her on LinkedIn.