Recently, one of our SEO clients approached us for help with Google Ads, and she asked us to audit her Google Ads account to answer this question:

“Which keywords and ads drove a recent influx of new phone call leads?”

This is a common situation where a business sees an increase in calls and wants to determine what’s working to try to replicate it moving forward.

In this case, I personally reviewed the account and it only took me a minute after I logged in.  That’s because phone call tracking was not set up properly in the account, so there was no way to know for sure which keywords and ads were driving calls.

Unfortunately, I see this quite often in prospective client accounts we audit.  Google has made it appear very easy and quick for businesses to start advertising, but the reality is that there is some technical setup required if you want to be able to measure your results and make smart marketing decisions.  One example is call tracking.

How to Track Phone Calls from Google Ads

Why Is Phone Call Tracking Critical?

This should be obvious, but it’s worth repeating.  If one of the goals of your ads is to drive phone call leads, then you need to track which calls are coming from Google Ads versus other marketing channels (such as SEO, social media, print ads, radio ads, etc.).  Just because you see an influx of calls doesn’t mean those calls were generated from Google Ads.

But knowing the calls came from Google Ads is just the beginning…

Next, you need to know which keywords and ads in your account are driving calls. That way, you can ensure those keywords are getting as much visibility as possible.

If using “Manual CPC” or “Enhanced CPC” bidding, this can come in the form of increasing bids on the top-performing keywords, decreasing bids on low-performing keywords, or even pausing keywords that are not generating phone calls at all.

If using an automated bidding strategy, then this will come in the form of pausing low-performing keywords and testing new keywords, possibly pulled from the search terms report.

Additionally, you can test different ad copy to see which ads drive more calls.

In addition to the quantity of phone calls, you should also measure the quality of those calls.  How many of those calls were from legitimate leads?  How many were wrong numbers?  How many were robocalls? It’s great to see a lot of calls coming from Google Ads, but you need to gauge the quality of those calls if you want the full picture.

Lastly, you would ideally know how many of those calls turned into sales.  Since phone calls occur off of the Internet, there is no conversion pixel that can install on your website to track sales like you can do for an e-commerce website.  However, sales from phone calls can be tracked in Google Ads and we’ll get to that shortly.

How Can You Track the Quantity of Calls?

Warning: This section will get a bit technical, but don’t skip it! It’s important to understand all of these steps from a high level even if you’re not the one implementing the setup.

First things first, you need to understand that there are two sources for phone calls in your Google Ads campaign:

  1. Calls from ads
  2. Calls from your website

Calls from ads

Calls from ads are phone calls made from the phone number listed in the ad copy on Computers or phone calls made by clicking the “Call” button on a mobile ad (see below).

To set up tracking for calls from your ads, you first need to create a Call Extension.  That will tell Google to show your phone number in your ads.  Next, navigate to the Conversions section of Google Ads (Tools & Settings > Conversions).  Click on the blue and white plus sign button to create a new conversion and select “Phone calls” from the 4 options.  Then select “Calls from ads using call extensions or call-only ads” (see below).

Complete the form on the next page to finish the setup.

Calls from your website

Calls from your website are simply the calls made from the phone number listed on your website.  To track these calls, you’ll follow the same process as above, except you’ll click on the 2nd option: “Calls to a phone number on your website.” For this tracking to work, you’ll need to install tracking code on your website, which is why this can get a bit technical.

At this point, if you complete the steps above, then you’ll see which keywords and ads drive phone calls in your Google Ads account.  In other words, you’ll be able to measure the quantity of calls.

But what about the quality of those calls?

How Can You Track the Quality of Calls?

To measure the quality of calls, you need to set up a dedicated phone number that you’ll only use for calls from your Google Ads account.  We use and recommend Convirza, but there are a lot of options available to set up a dedicated phone number with call recording.

The call recording is key because it will allow you to listen to the calls and measure the quality of the leads.

Once you have your dedicated number, then navigate over to the Call Extensions you set up earlier in Google Ads.  Replace your business phone number in the Call Extension with your new dedicated tracking and recording number.  Once that’s done, then Google will forward all calls through your tracking and recording number.

Voilà! You can now see how many calls are coming from Google Ads and you can also listen to the call recordings to monitor call quality.

But what about measuring sales that are generated from these calls?

How Do You Track Sales from Phone Calls?

You may have noticed when setting up the call conversions in Google Ads that there is a 4th option called “Import.”  Google added this 4th conversion type as a way for businesses to import even more conversion data from other sources like your CRM (customer relationship management) tool.

To make this work, you first need to create the Import conversion in Google Ads by clicking that 4th option and completing the form.  Then, you’ll want to set up a “voice whisper” on your dedicated tracking and recording number.  A voice whisper will announce where the call came from to your receptionist or salesperson.  For example, your voice whisper could say “Call from Google Ads.”  At that point, your team knows where the call came from and they can document this in your CRM.

As your team works through your sales process and starts closing sales, you’ll have a list of sales that came from Google Ads phone calls.  Create a spreadsheet file using this template and add the required information.  When your file is ready, then navigate to the Conversion section of Google Ads and then click on “Uploads” in the left navigation.  On that page, you can upload your spreadsheet file, preview it, and then click Apply to upload the information into Google (see below).

Once your file is uploaded, then Google will match up the call data in your account so that you can see which keywords and ads drove phone call sales.

That’s it! You’re now tracking the quantity of calls, quality of calls, and even sales from calls generated from your Google Ads account.

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