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What is Call Tracking?

Understand how it works, why you need it and the different levels of call tracking.

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What is call tracking and why do marketers need it?

Call tracking software helps marketers discover where their phone call enquiries have come from. The software gives marketers the ability to trace phone calls right back to digital marketing spend, so they can measure the impact of phone calls on their marketing campaigns.

There are three main types of call tracking technology:

  • Campaign-level call tracking
  • Session-level call tracking
  • Visitor-level call tracking

Without call tracking, call-centric businesses are missing out on a huge chunk of data about how their customers are converting and the journey they have taken to get there. Adding call tracking software to the martech stack gives benefits to all aspects of digital marketing, including the optimization of PPC budget and improving SEO, plus proving ROI and subsequently justifying marketing spend.

With phone calls showing no sign of going away, there are a number of different call tracking options on the market falling into the following three broad categories:

Campaign-level call tracking

With campaign-level call tracking a business buys a pool of phone numbers and then assigns each ‘static’ number to a specific campaign. This can be used for online and offline campaigns.

An example might be an SME that has a relatively small ad spend across a couple of channels. They could put one phone number in a print ad, one on a TV ad and another on their PPC ads. They’re doing this so they can see who is calling from which ad and therefore which one works the best.





There are a couple of serious problems with this type of call tracking:

Limited cookie window
With campaign-level call tracking, your cookie window is likely to be 30 days only. This means that if your sales cycle is longer than that, and your campaigns are running for longer than that, this probably won’t be the best option as you’ll be missing insights from those customers converting over a long period.

Last click attribution
Attribution is more important today than ever before, particularly as the customer’s path to purchase becomes increasingly complex, across multiple devices. The biggest problem with campaign-level call tracking is you can only use last click attribution. So, when someone makes a phone call to your business, the phone number (and therefore campaign) is attributed to the number they’ve called. It doesn’t take into account their prior journey.

They could have clicked on an ad one day, gone away and then come back to your website directly to make a purchase the next. The reality is, it was the PPC ad that caused them to convert, yet last click attribution would call the source direct. If you could track the entire customer journey you could make far more accurate decisions and then optimize accordingly.

Session-level call tracking

The next iteration of call tracking is called session-level call tracking. Instead of giving campaigns unique numbers, session-level call tracking gives each individual visitor to your website their own phone number, known as ‘dynamic number insertion’. This more powerful version of call tracking is useful for short sales cycles where customers are ready to buy, as the phone number will only remain the same for the duration of that particular session. If they go away and come back to the website, you would lose the tracking information of their journey, so again it’s only last click attribution.

Visitor-level call tracking

With visitor-level call tracking you can see the entire customer journey and link the phone call right back to ad, campaign and even keyword. This solves the problems of the other two forms of call tracking, giving visibility of the whole customer journey. ResponseTap’s customers can then use one of six default attribution models and trace customer activity right from the very first time they click on your website, no matter how many times they leave the site, to when they make a purchase.

And at ResponseTap, we maintain our cookies for 12 months, meaning you don’t have to worry about longer sales cycles and customer journeys; we capture it all.

Why is call tracking important?

If you don’t appreciate how valuable phone calls are to your, or your clients’, business then you’re probably not tracking them.

For any business with a phone number, where the phone call is a conversion point, call tracking is vital. Call tracking software enables marketing teams to anaylze and report on the success of their marketing campaigns, based on the number of phone calls received and the revenue associated with these calls. Call tracking therefore plugs the gap in data analytics, bringing phone call analytics in line with the types of insights usually associated with digital campaigns.


Accurate Attribution Modelling

We all know that the customer journey is now more complex than ever. So, having the right tools to discover exactly what is motivating people to phone your business and where they have originated is key, so you can attribute marketing spend and optimize accordingly.

Yes, Google Analytics is invaluable for reporting on the success of your online campaigns. But when the sale happens over the phone, it breaks and becomes redundant. Unless you plug in phone call data, that is.

Imagine if, say, 40% of your sales happen over the phone. Without the knowledge of which campaigns, ads and keywords had driven these phone calls you’ll never be able to optimize based on these insights or use any attribution models effectively because of the hole in your analytics.

Did the call originate from paid or organic search? Was it from a print or display ad? Perhaps it was driven from a social media post or an email. Being able to clearly attribute where calls come from means you can prove what’s working and make decisions that will increase ROI and optimize the campaigns.

And for marketing agencies working with multiple clients, call tracking is key to prove to clients that what you’re doing is working. It makes reporting to clients effortless and means you can optimize campaigns and be even more successful for your clients.

And because call tracking software, like ResponseTap, integrates with so many of the tools you already use, including automation, CRM, or bid management platforms, phone call data can go even further to optimize all of your future campaigns. Call tracking software makes all of your existing tools even more powerful than before, adding phone call data to fill in the data blind spot.

In short, if you use call tracking effectively you can increase call revenue, streamline and optimize PPC and SEO campaigns, and improve the customer experience.

With phone calls showing no signs of going away, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have an accurate view of the customer journey so you can attribute success with confidence.

How does call tracking software work?

Traditionally, call tracking has worked by giving unique phone numbers to marketing campaigns. This core premise is essentially the same today, just far more sophisticated.

For years, unique numbers have been allocated to printed marketing collateral or specific print, TV or radio ads. This has meant businesses can monitor their campaign’s success and assess where they should be allocating their ad spend. But with the expansion of the Digital revolution in the past 20 years, a new level of complexity within the customer journey has been born. Paths to purchase are now far from linear. Which is where call tracking software, like ResponseTap, comes in.

With call tracking software, individual visitors to your website are given a unique phone number to call. The call tracking provider then tracks when that visitor converts on the phone. This call data can then be matched to each touchpoint on their journey, and the data passed to your Analytics or CRM platforms.

To get started with call tracking, a set of website code is installed on your website. This comes in two parts: a block of JavaScript that acts as your tracking code, and individual lines of HTML that need to be placed where you’d like to display Placeholders on your website.

Once the technology is installed, you can start reporting on all the online touchpoints that influence your sales in a matter of minutes, by using Placeholders. This allows ResponseTap to know when a particular visitor has made a phone call, as well as the marketing channel that had driven their visit.



Call tracking also recognizes that it’s not just a brand’s website that causes them to convert. Multiple touchpoints and channels come into play in consideration, research and buying phases. So, if it’s PPC, social, organic traffic, print or TV, there are a multitude of ways your customer will find out about you and whatever you offer. To track this journey, Single Numbers are used.

A Single Number is a unique number which can be allocated to a campaign, enabling you to measure the volume of calls generated by a particular channel. These referred to as a ‘Fixed Number’ or ‘Static Number’.

Single Numbers can be used in marketing activity such as:

  • Email Newsletters
  • Direct Mail campaigns
  • Newspapers
  • Radio/TV advertising
  • Call Extensions

It’s important to keep in mind that a Single Number will not capture the online journey for a caller, so unlike Placeholders they will not be able to provide you with information like a Landing Page, Keyword or Visitor ID.

And by linking your ResponseTap numbers with Google Analytics, you’ll be adding extra value to your data in both Google Analytics as well as in any linked Google AdWords accounts. Once the integration has been configured, phone call conversions as well as their values can be sent on and captured in a custom Google Analytics goal.

All you’ll need to get started is your Google Analytics ID and the ability to create a goal.