call tracking

The Definitive Guide to Call Tracking: How It Works & What Is Its Impact

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From the very beginning, marketing has been about creating human connections.

Relationships are what define marketing, and as a result, every opportunity to build a stronger bond between brands and customers is valuable. For this reason, inbound phone calls have incredible usefulness for any marketer.

Some might be surprised to hear that the simple phone call, a technology that’s been around for nearly 150 years, can be so important. With so many bold and dynamic digital options being focused on by marketers, some may think of phone calls as an afterthought.

But the truth is that consumers who call a business are more likely to convert than those who fill out a web form, making calls key for those looking to boost conversions. Phone calls are preferred by a majority of customers, meaning they are more popular than other digital channels.

When a consumer picks up the phone or uses a click-to-call button on their smartphone, they are often further along in the sales funnel and have a high interest in making a purchase. The phone call creates a dialogue between the customer and a brand representative, which can help to answer questions or address any last-minute concerns.

With such high value associated with inbound phone calls for marketers, it becomes essential for calls and call campaigns to be tracked and measured so that improvements and optimizations can be made. The key to accomplishing all this is call tracking.

What is Call Tracking?

Call tracking is technology that tells brands exactly which marketing efforts drove customers to call their business.

Similar to how a company may ask a customer “How did you find us?,” call tracking provides an automated and more accurate way to answer that question. When customers call, they might not always remember exactly what drove them to make a call. They are usually thinking about their prospective purchase, and not whether or not they got your company’s phone number from a Facebook ad or a Google search.

Call tracking does the “remembering” for the consumer so that call center representatives don’t need to ask that question. Making the connection between a marketing effort and a consumer call is referred to as attribution, because it tells marketers what they can attribute each call to. When a business learns their call attribution, it gives them visibility on how well their campaigns are performing.

Why Do Companies Undervalue Call Tracking Metrics?

Call tracking does a lot to help businesses understand their marketing campaigns. Yet, there are plenty of companies and individuals that don’t pay attention to call tracking metrics, or don’t have a tracking solution at all. Why is that?

Perception is one reason. Many marketers can be so focused on other online metrics that the idea of tracking their phone calls never occurs to them, because calls may be perceived as “old-fashioned.” Marketers are more inclined to measure click-rates and website heatmaps without realizing that their call metrics might be just as—if not more—valuable.

There is also the chance that companies might focus on only some call metrics. For example, they may only pay attention to the volume of calls, but not the call sources. So why they might be glad to be seeing a surge in calls, they don’t know what caused the surge. If a company makes assumptions instead of analyzing call tracking metrics, they risk investing in the wrong marketing effort to boost their calls.

What Problems Does Call Tracking Solve?

Companies that undervalue call tracking metrics are without question going to miss out on some of the problem-solving abilities of call tracking analytics. Businesses that use call tracking analytics are able to get greater visibility and control over their calls and marketing data.

Call tracking solution

The first problem that call tracking solves for businesses is to help them understand which specific marketing efforts are driving calls—determining their call attribution. When you know your call attribution, your company is able to make changes in how resources are allocated or what kind of campaigns to run. The more you understand your calls through call tracking analytics, the more you can improve your return on investment.

Using call tracking analytics, you can also learn more about how your calls should be handled as they reach you in real-time in the process of call distribution. Businesses have a need as inbound calls come in to either route them to the correct internal department or distribute the calls to third-party destinations. Call tracking software will utilize an automatic call distributor to get your inbound calls to wherever they need to go.

Call tracking also helps improve your customer service by enhancing the consumer journey. Call tracking software will come with technology tools like an IVR or call recording to improve your relationship with inbound callers. Using an IVR, or interactive voice response, lets businesses greet callers with a voice system that asks questions and can route callers to the correct destination. This allows callers to wait less and get their queries answered quicker.

Customer experience improvement

The customer experience is also improved when businesses use call recording software. Conversations between callers and representatives are recorded and then used for a variety of purposes. The recordings can be used as a part of call center training, or reviewed to improve customer service. Businesses can even get a transcript of these conversations that can be scanned to ensure important conversion keywords are being used by representatives.

All of these features paired with call tracking analytics help businesses solve their specific problems, open up opportunities for more conversions, and enhance the human connection between brands and consumers.

Why is Call Tracking Important?

When a business invests in call tracking, they are making a commitment to better know and serve their inbound call customers. With rising usage of mobile search and click-to-call functionality that allows consumers to get in touch with your business right away, it is vital to have an understanding of all your calls.

Why Use Call Tracking?

Ultimately, businesses may understand the value of call tracking and the problems it solves, but not see the direct benefit to them. But there are a number of reasons why any business with plans to boost their return on investment and grow in the future would want to use call tracking.

Higher Quality Leads

For those interested in driving more high quality leads for your business or for distribution, call tracking is an essential technology tool. Call tracking software helps identify potential fraudulent leads by alerting you if the same number is calling multiple times.

Filters are also a key part of call tracking—this is the ability to restrict certain calls from ever reaching your call centers because they don’t meet your specifications or have been otherwise flagged. Additionally, the use of a filter analyzer is helpful because it shows you which leads you are filtering out, letting you identify situations where you need to change your settings.

Campaign Insights

Reporting is a significant feature of call tracking because it uncovers revelations about your campaigns. You can use a publisher report to see the success levels of different publishers you work with, then make informed decisions on who you buy traffic from.

Call tracking reporting

Other report sorting methods can highlight specific call details, like the duration of calls or targeted demographic information. All of this becomes useful in performing analyses of your efforts and making decisions on how to proceed.

Business Agility

Today it is more important than ever that companies be able to adapt their practices in a moment’s notice. The year 2020 saw a surge of calls as daily lives changed because of the pandemic. Any business that had the ability to handle and analyze the wave of calls undoubtedly put themselves at an advantage.

After the recent uncertainty and huge market changes, the need for companies to be agile is more clear than ever. Call tracking software that is scalable and customizable can go a long way in allowing businesses to adapt quickly.

Who Should Use Call Tracking?

As companies across different industries come to see the value that calls have, many may wonder where they fit in. They ask questions concerning when it’s the right time to implement call tracking, or if call tracking is a good fit for their vertical. While many different factors can come into play, the truth is that call tracking can bring results for businesses at different stages across a variety of industries.

Whether you are in startup mode or a long-established enterprise-level company, there is no doubt that you will be able to get value from using call tracking to grow your business or optimize existing operations. This holds true in multiple business sectors.

Call Tracking for Insurance

A cornerstone of the insurance industry is trust—a strong bond must be forged between policyholders and insurance providers. This applies to agencies, carriers, and individual agents who are all looking to connect with consumers and write more policies. Calls provide consumers with the person-to-person connection that insurance thrives on.

Because calls are such an important part of converting insurance prospects, call tracking must be integrated into any successful insurance marketing strategy. In the ultra-competitive world of insurance, which spends billions in advertising each year, every adjustment and opportunity to improve your ROI matters. Call tracking can help insurance companies optimize their spending so that they get the best possible outcome for all their campaigns.

Call tracking for insurance industry

Call tracking software can also have a major impact on customer service. An IVR and automatic call distributor will see that callers get helped right away, and call recording can be used to train your call center representatives. These are among the many direct benefits that insurance companies can get from using call tracking.

Call Tracking for Financial Services

Lead generators who work in financial services are faced with a variety of challenges in their vertical. They must reach consumers in a busy marketplace and provide prospects with peace of mind over complex financial decisions. As a result, calls carry great weight because they provide consumers with a forum to ask questions and have any concerns allayed. To get the best possible results for their call campaigns, financial service companies turn to call tracking.

Call tracking gives financial service marketers access to first-party data—the data that they are able to collect from their own marketing efforts. With this data from their calls, financial service companies can learn more about their campaigns and any partners they may distribute leads to or receive leads from.

Call tracking for financial services

This data can even be used to forecast future outcomes of their campaigns if they make certain adjustments using call tracking analytics. Financial service companies can use this to plan their campaigns with the same rigorous attention to detail as when they provide mortgages, loans, or other services.

Call tracking data allows financial service companies to maintain a high return on investment for all their call marketing efforts.

Call Tracking for Home Services

The home service industry is defined by being in the field. Consumers are looking for professionals that are trusted and close to them. Sometimes they need to speak to someone right away. For all these reasons, calls foster the person-to-person connections that keep home service companies in business.

Home service professionals and lead generators can turn to call tracking to effectively manage calls and fine-tune their marketing practices. Call tracking reports can show state-by-state comparisons, offering affiliate marketers a wider view of which states have the best-performing campaigns.

Call tracking for home services

Those looking to generate HVAC leads, for instance, may be more focused on certain geographic areas—northern states in the winter for heat, southern states in the summer for AC—and need to know where their marketing spending will have the most impact.

Call tracking software can go anywhere as well, with mobile applications that allow leads to be sent or received from wherever a wi-fi or cell signal is available. This flexibility from call tracking software makes it a key component for any home services marketing professional.

B2B Businesses & Call Tracking

While many industries that go direct to consumers are looked at for their use of call tracking, there are plenty of B2B (business to business) companies that can maximize their marketing spend by using call tracking.

B2B companies are often engaged in a lengthy sales process, which can often include one or many phone calls. Getting an understanding of what is driving these calls is critical to the B2B marketer. They can see which keywords or other marketing initiatives are bringing in their prospects. This data will help them optimize their conversion funnel.

Call tracking for B2B companies

A phone call is often the first of many steps for B2B companies engaged in marketing. Call tracking software becomes an integral tool into measuring marketing efforts and seeing opportunities to scale and grow.

Call Tracking and Lead Generation Companies

For those who are experts in lead generation, call tracking fulfills many specific needs. One such benefit is that call tracking lets lead generation companies better understand their lead funnel. Call tracking offers up details on every caller, as well as insights into your filters and your IVR journey, so it is clear when a caller dropped out of your funnel. Call tracking helps lead generators plug up leaks in their funnel.

Call tracking for lead generation companies

Call tracking will also help lead generators because it can use dynamic call tracking numbers to track both online and offline leads. Phone numbers in such real-world locations as billboards or bus stops can be tracked as easily as those on Google Ads. This means lead generators will get insights into the success of their marketing initiatives for both offline and online campaigns.

Call Tracking Marketing Impact

Any business looking to reach their goals is trying to find that special “formula” for success. Deciding the right inputs, the ideal outcomes, and how it all comes together is a challenge for companies big and small.

A crucial part of determining a company’s unique model, sometimes referred to as their “secret sauce,” is their marketing metrics relating to ROI (Return On Investment). However, only 37% of digital marketers describe themselves as ‘very confident’ in their ROI metrics. That means a majority of marketers have some doubts over their marketing return.

Call tracking provides marketers with ROI metrics they can have complete confidence in, making it an indisputable way to see an immediate marketing impact. The first-party data that can be collected with call tracking can be used to calculate important metrics like your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) or implement lead scoring to focus on only qualified leads.

Marketing impact with call tracking

Once you’re able to incorporate these important marketing metrics into your strategy with call tracking, you’ll get visibility over all your call efforts and be assured in all your marketing moves.

The Pros and Cons of Call Tracking

As businesses consider how they can see an immediate impact with call tracking, they also want to get an understanding of all the variables at play. It’s possible to break down the positive and negative consequences that come with implementing call tracking.

Pros of Call Tracking

ROI Visibility

Without call tracking, businesses will encounter great difficulty understanding their call attribution. Call tracking delivers clear data on the marketing efforts that generated every inbound call. Using call analytics, companies are able to see which call leads led to a sale or conversion, creating a clear view of the return on investment.

Analytics to Scale

Once you’re able to determine your ROI, call tracking data can then unlock other insights about your campaigns. Use reports and data analytics tools to optimize your processes, including how you may buy or sell your call leads with third parties. These optimizations will offer a roadmap for your business to scale and grow.

Customer Journey Enhancement

Call tracking software creates immense opportunity for businesses to improve the customer journey. Tracking analytics allows marketers to trace the customer journey from when they first contact to whether or not they convert. Their journey can also be improved by solution features like an IVR or automated call distributor.

Cons of Call Tracking


There are a high number of benefits, but one drawback for some companies to use call tracking is the cost. Businesses are advised to look at all available pricing models. Some call tracking platforms will offer a free version with adjusted capabilities to address this concern or other unique pricing opportunities.

Onboarding Process

An issue that some companies face when implementing call tracking software is a lengthy or obtrusive onboarding process for certain solutions. Companies should inquire about the onboarding process of their call tracking provider to ensure that getting set up will not be a burden on existing operations.

Tech Stack Integration

Companies may be wary of utilizing call tracking because there is a fear that the solution will not integrate into their tech stack. It’s worth it for businesses to look for a call tracking solution that is focused on seamless integrations and has options for customization.

Benefits for Businesses

Once a business decides to invest in call tracking with a software solution, they are laying the groundwork for many future benefits because they are committing to a data-driven call marketing strategy. Because call tracking allows you to collect and analyze data, it has a number of benefits for all businesses.

Benefits for businesses after using call tracking

Learn More About Customers

Companies can get a much better understanding of their customers with the first-party data that can be collected with call tracking. Insights about where callers are located, when they call, their demographics and key interests are all useful to businesses and can be used to build customer personas.

Boost Call Volume and Revenue

Call tracking software comes with many tools that can help you spot trends, but some software will include predictive analytics. With predictive modeling call analytics, you can see likely outcomes from your campaign adjustments. These predictions can help you plot strategies that can increase your call volume, or let you know when changes might lead to a decrease in calls.

Make Precision Adjustments to Optimize ROI

Call tracking lets businesses access a range of detailed reports and functionalities that can be used to make targeted changes to get a better return on your marketing spend. You can analyze your filter settings to make sure you aren’t inadvertently filtering out quality calls. It’s also possible to view comparison reports side-by-side from different date ranges to identify trends or spot issues to be addressed.

How Does Call Tracking Work?

When considering utilizing call tracking, it’s useful to get an understanding of how call tracking works. Like a prospective car buyer interested in “a look under the hood” before taking a car out for a spin, businesses that are looking to implement call tracking should know the broad strokes of how call tracking actually works and what goes into call tracking software.

How Do Call Tracking Numbers Work?

Call tracking helps you get attribution for your calls by using a call tracking phone number. A call tracking number is a unique phone number that is used for a specific marketing campaign. It is a different number than your usual business number so that callers are attributed to particular campaigns. Once certain campaigns end, these numbers can be repurposed for new campaigns.

Call tracking and how it works

If you are looking to test multiple campaigns at one time, it’s recommended you use dynamic number insertion, which lets businesses use an assortment of different call tracking numbers across different campaigns. These numbers can be utilized on Google ads, included on your website, or inserted across other types of digital or offline marketing.

This flexibility allows businesses to follow all their campaigns and understand the performance levels of each in real time. Having an as-it-happens look into different campaigns is important, because it opens the door to making improvements on the fly.

What is a Vanity Phone Number?

Today’s marketers are fortunate to have a variety of tracking numbers at their disposal, and one especially effective number can be a vanity phone number.

vanity phone number is a customized phone number that will usually include specific letters to spell out a company name, product, or slogan. Some famous examples of vanity numbers include 1-800-FLOWERS or 1-800-DENTIST. These numbers are helpful for businesses because they are easy to remember and provide great brand recognition.

Vanity phone numbers can be a boon to your marketing efforts, but can also come at a higher expense than using a typical tracking number that is not customizable. This becomes a debate for some brands who may be able to justify an additional expense to use a vanity number, or others who believe they can generate plenty of call leads without a vanity number. Companies have found success using both methods.

What is Call Tracking Software?

Call tracking is something that most companies can’t expect to accomplish on their own. Businesses find incredible value not just in the process of call tracking, but also in the implementation of call tracking software. The right call tracking software will include a bounty of features and benefits that are related to and support a company’s call tracking initiatives.

Call tracking software is a SaaS platform that allows a business to track their calls, often including many supporting tools for distributing calls and capturing and interpreting call analytics. Because call tracking software is a cloud-based platform, it will not require any costly and restrictive software installations. Companies simply need to work with their call tracking software provider to onboard their staff.

Call Tracking Software vs. Services

There are some who would rather employ call tracking services on their own or by building a solution rather than utilize call tracking software. While there may be some situations for companies to use a selective call tracking service, the vast majority of businesses will implement call tracking software from a provider because it allows them to use a robust platform that can scale with their business.

The usefulness of call tracking has led to the rise of many different providers of call tracking software. While each offers their own unique selling propositions, it’s advantageous to look at what each call tracking software offers as a solution.

Features like “Traffic Flow”—which helps measure publisher quality—and “Waves”—predictive modeling with accessible visualizations—are among the exclusive features offered by Phonexa’s call tracking solution, Call Logic. Phonexa also stands out as the only multi-channel solution, with platforms for lead management, email marketing, click tracking and more.

Call tracking software solutions can also be differentiated by their levels of service and customizations. Some providers do not have much flexibility and offer a “one size fits all” approach, while others, like Phonexa, ensure smooth tech stack integration and the ability to customize parts of the platform. Understanding these differences is key to getting the most value out of call tracking software.

How Much Does It Cost?

A SaaS platform is typically going to have a monthly subscription cost, along with specific costs for set up as well as certain usage fees. How much your business may end up paying for call tracking software will depend on a variety of factors.

Prior to moving ahead with call tracking software, you may want to examine what your call tracking needs are: how many users do you need? How long do you need data stored for? How many different publishers are you working with? Having an answer to these questions will help you understand what your call tracking software costs will be.

Connection with Call Tracking

It’s clear that there are seemingly endless benefits and opportunities for brands that utilize call tracking and call tracking software. By getting attribution on their inbound calls with call tracking, businesses can understand what initiatives are driving their calls. This is a critical step in creating more effective marketing campaigns.

Call tracking software provides businesses with key features and tools that allow them to understand their call tracking data and also enhance the customer journey. With call tracking software, businesses can optimize their campaigns and see opportunities to scale and grow.

All of these possibilities stem from tapping into the power of the phone call. Investing in calls—and call tracking—is one of the soundest decisions a business can make, because calls provide an essential form of person-to-person connection. This bond between consumers and brands is made stronger over a phone call, and is further strengthened by the use of call tracking.

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Mark Kosin was a Content Writer at Phonexa, covering topics such as SaaS technology, call tracking, lead generation, and digital marketing.

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