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Google Ads is the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform in use today. In 2021, advertisers spent an estimated $209 billion on Google Ads. That’s a lot of money, but it is an important driver of new leads and customers for many businesses, which means it needs to be well-managed to deliver strong results. 

But what would you say if I told you that many of these advertisers have a gaping hole in their PPC campaigns and were potentially losing a lot of money? And even worse, they are completely unaware of it and aren’t doing anything about it. 

Ridiculous, you say? Sadly, no. It is something that actually happens to many businesses. In this blog post, I’m going to explore this problem and show you what you can do about it.

Tracking Conversions for PPC Campaigns

If you’re spending money on PPC campaigns trying to win new customers, you want to know if your efforts are successful or not. The way we do this is through something called “conversion tracking.” This is the process of measuring whether or not someone clicks on your ad and then takes action on your website or with your business. Examples of conversions include:

  • Lead generation forms
  • Contact forms
  • Free-trial forms
  • Clicking on an email address to reach out to your business
  • Phone calls

It’s this last one that, in my experience, is often overlooked. And that’s the problem with many PPC campaigns today: they aren’t measuring phone calls (or, aren’t measuring them correctly) and reporting it back as a conversion. As a result, advertisers are paying for clicks, but seemingly have nothing to show for it. In short, they are wasting their money.

The good news: phone call tracking is quite easy to set up and, depending on the solution, will provide a wealth of data that can help you improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

What Is Phone Call Tracking in Google Ads?

When a searcher sees your ad in Google, they can click on the ad to go to your website where they may call the phone number displayed on the page or, in some cases, click on the phone number displayed in your ad to call you. Either way, when searchers call you, they are showing their interest and there’s a chance they may become a customer. You need to track those phone calls as they are important measures of success. 

But how can you do that? There are three primary options available:

1. Use the Phone Call Extension Built Right Into Google Ads. Google makes available an option in your text ads that will display your phone number in the copy of the ad. This is called a “call extension” and it is very helpful, especially if your call-to-action is focused on getting the searcher to call you. Once this extension is set up and turned on, Google displays it with your ad and tracks clicks on that phone number (called “click-to-call” links). These clicks, once tracked, can be reported back to the PPC campaign as a conversion. The major advantage of this option is that it is free; the only cost incurred is when someone clicks on the link, which is the same as a click on any other link in your ad. The disadvantages, however are that they only track clicks-to-call, meaning that if someone clicks on the ad to go to your website and then calls the phone number on your website, no conversion is reported back to the campaign. This leads us to a second option.

2. Track Phone Calls to the Phone Number on Your Website. When someone clicks on your ad and goes to your website, they may choose to call the phone number displayed on your site (that’s good!). In order to track these phone calls, you need to set up dynamic phone number swapping using custom code available from Google Ads that will automatically change out your phone number for a trackable phone number. The trackable phone number automatically redirects to your actual phone number and there is no impact on the user. However, because there is a trackable phone number on your website, we are now able to record that phone call as a conversion and report it back to the Google Ads campaign. Now we’re getting somewhere! This option is also free and is relatively easy to set up as long as you understand Google Tag Manager or can edit the backend of your website. But what if you want call data for traffic coming from sources other than Google Ads and what if you would like to record those phone calls? This leads us to a third option.

3. Track Phone Calls Using a 3rd Party Tool. There are several tools in the marketplace today that will provide phone call conversion tracking and reporting back to your Google Ads campaigns. For example, CallRail will integrate with both Google Ads and Google Analytics to provide seamless passing of data between the ad, your website, your Google Ads campaign and Google Analytics. The set up is a little more advanced than the standard Google Ads phone call tracking configuration, but the insights it provides is considerably more valuable. For example, once you’ve set up CallRail within your site, you will be able to track phone call conversions from various traffic sources such as Google Ads, organic search traffic, social media campaigns, email campaigns and more. This is the most well-rounded option available as it provides near total insight into the performance of your marketing campaigns as it relates to phone calls. And the best part: 3rd party tools offer phone call recording so that you can listen to playback of the phone calls to find out what the potential customer is actually looking for and compare that to what they searched for. Information like this can be incredibly helpful in fine-tuning your PPC campaigns so you can reduce wasteful spend! Just keep in mind that there is a monthly cost associated with 3rd party tracking tools and you’ll need to balance out those costs with the insights you receive from the tracking data.

Is Phone Call Tracking Right for Your Business?

So, are you convinced that phone call tracking is important? I hope so. If you’re running Google Ads campaigns today and haven’t included phone call tracking in your set up, you likely have a big hole in your marketing efforts. Fortunately, it is a problem that can be addressed quickly and thoroughly to strengthen your PPC campaigns.

How Dijital Farm Can Help

At Dijital Farm, we’ve been helping clients success in paid search advertising since 2011. If you are unsure if you have the right phone call tracking solution in place for your campaigns or if you need help setting up phone call tracking for your Google Ads campaigns, contact us and let us do an assessment. We can help you determine the right solution for your needs as well as help you get phone call tracking implemented for your Google Ads campaigns. 

Thinking of Getting Started with Google Ads?

If you’re interested in exploring Google Ads to see if it is right for your business, we can help. Book a consultation with us today and we’ll provide you with a customized Google Ads plan to get your business up and running today.