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The digital marketing glossary > C > What is Call tracking definition?

What is Call tracking definition ?

In digital marketing, call tracking is a set of techniques and processes that allows marketers to track which marketing channels generate calls. Call tracking is not specific to digital media and has been used for a long time for offline media (TV ads, Direct mail, classifieds, etc.). Nevertheless, call trackink has taken on a new dimension in digital marketing with new possibilities like DNI. According to BIA/Kelsey, call tracking was for 2012 a $1B industry for US market.

In digital marketing context, call tracking is mainly used for tracking calls generated during or afterwards a website visit but it may also be used to track calls directly induced from a digital ad (mobile and classic PPC ads, banners, etc.).

Call tracking is of utmost importance for companies having a good part of their conversions or leads gained via phone calls. Without tracking calls, only webform leads and website sales are taken into account and it may lead to underestimate some channel ROIs. Thus, it is almost impossible for a car dealership or a local service to have an effective measure of digital marketing contributions to his business without tracking calls. See an interesting Marketing Sherpa’s case study showing the impact of call tracking.

Call tracking on a website allows companies to track online referring sources (PPC ads, SEO presence, affiliates,..) and offline sources generating a call after a website visit. According to different techniques, it may also track which ads or which keywords have provoked a call (see keyword level call tracking) .

Call tracking works by displaying on the website - or directly on ads - unique trackable phone numbers dependent on the online or referring source. Trackable numbers redirect to the company’s usual numbers.

The display of unique trackable phone numbers is called DNI - Dynamic Number Insertion. There are three main types of DNI techniques:
- URL-Based DNI
- Source-Based DNI
- Session-Based DNI

DNI principles by Logmycalls:


Basic call tracking is relatively easy to set up, it is done by inserting on the website a javascript code provided by the call tracking service vendor and allowing dynamic number insertion.

An example of code snippet (image credit Logmycalls)


When a visitor comes to the website and dials the unique phone number he has been assigned, the phone call passes through the call tracking service server that connects the call to the company’s classic number.

Different elements can be tracked and associated with the call by the tracking call service:
- time
- keyword
- call length
- element related to website visit
- caller phone number
- IP and geo-location
- ad element
- etc.

An example of call tracking variables offered by Mongoosemetrics:

Some elements may also be added by the company phone representative like data related to the caller and the call results.

Call tracking data can be directly reported into Google Analytics by the call tracking vendor server via an automated browser visit to a specific URL on the company’s website (postback URL). It can also be integrated in CRM and sales automation systems for more complex projects.

A recap of call tracking process:

- the client insert the tracking service vendor’s code on his webpages
- a dynamic number is displayed for each visitor
- calls pass on vendor’s server and are redirected to company’s numbers
- call data are registered on vendor’s dashboard and into analytics solution

Published on Friday 21 June 2013 (Authors)