Optimizing Third Party Call Tracking for Success


This is a guest post by Heather Gaskins, PPC Manager.

Third party tracking systems are becoming increasingly popular for PPC tracking, as well as other areas of digital marketing. Many service and lead generation companies rely almost entirely on phone call conversions. Optimizing for these phone calls can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a negative ROI. Data that shows you what to pause and what to add extra budget to can be invaluable. All of this information works together, so you can actually use each to optimize the others.

Here’s some tips for success when working with third party call tracking systems:

How Third Party Tracking Systems Work

More advanced systems operate with a bank of phone numbers and some code snippets. The code snippet on your landing page is connected to the displayed phone number. This code then dynamically changes the phone number on the site from your bank of phone numbers based on the source. An additional code snippet is then added into the tracking parameters of AdWords or onto the final URL in Bing Ads with tags for the type of data you want the tracking software to collect for each phone call. It’s up to you and your marketing goals whether your phone numbers are local numbers or 800 numbers. The more basic systems only use one or two phone numbers and can be manually written into your content or extensions. If you use different numbers for each source these can be dynamically changed within the coding as well.


One of the top questions is, of course, how much does it cost? Each tracking system is different, but the pricing structures are relatively similar. Most pricing is based on your call volume and need of size for your phone number bank. If you have a larger number of visitors, then you will likely need more numbers in your bank, thus increasing costs. If you’re tracking for multiple marketing channels and want those to be separate for reporting purposes, then you will need separate call banks for each channel.

These more advanced tracking systems work best for medium to larger size companies who have a higher volume of calls. There are other third party tracking systems with pricing structures that charge for time volume by the minutes used, by recording (if you choose to record calls to listen to later for quality optimization, etc. This pricing structure is a great fit for smaller companies that have less phone calls coming in and don’t want/need to pay the extra. However, it’s important to note that sometimes these cheaper pricing structures do not allow you to track the same amount of data as more expensive plans. You’ll want to compare tracking capabilities between the different plans to make sure you have all the tracking your client requires.

Data Obtained From Tracking & How To Use It

The information third party tracking systems offer that directly pertains to phone call conversions can be incredibly valuable. There is plenty of useful data to dig through and use to optimize your campaigns.

You can choose the information you want to track via a series of tags in your tracking parameters or the final url; this depends on the third party system you’re using and also which channel you are tracking (ex. AdWords vs BingAds).

When it comes to tracking in PPC, more is always better and call tracking is no exception.  Here’s the different levels of tracking that are possible through third party tracking systems:

  1. Marketing Channel: You can separate as much or as little as preferred and see each channel that is generating calls.
  2. Campaign Level: You can see which campaigns your call is coming from as well as: Operating System (Windows vs iOS) and browser used; time of day and date; and device whether computer, tablet and mobile and allows you to optimize for a mobile campaign. All of these data points allow you to leverage bid modifiers to increase or decrease performance as you see fit in your campaigns.
  3. Ad Level: You can track the ad ID if you’re conducting an A/B ad test.
  4. Keyword Level: This is my favorite level of tracking. You can see the keyword that you’ve bid on, as well as the actual search query (this is often shown alongside one another). You can also see match types for each search query and conversion
  5. Google Analytics: You can also set up goals in Google Analytics that link to your call tracking coding and allow you to see these same conversions in Analytics as part of the greater conversion funnel and visitor flow. When call tracking is used across multiple channels and marketing methods, it will allow for even more optimization.
  6. Call Data: Some of the best information, in my opinion, pertains to the phone call itself like: Duration of the call; original phone number (and therefore the specific customer);  and call recording. The records make it easy to know exactly which conversions are the highest quality. If you have 100 conversions for “house cleaning service” and they want a one or two time home cleaning and you have 20 calls for “house cleaning company” and they want a reoccurring bi-monthly cleaning for a contract of a year, you obviously want to put more efforts into “house cleaning company”.

When tracking calls with third party systems, it’s important to make sure you’re kept in the loop with any and all other marketing channels that your client is utilizing. Failure to separate other efforts from PPC can result in muddled data and even worse, wasted budget.

Third Party Tracking Companies

If you’re looking for the more detailed systems, here’s a few that might be useful:

If you don’t need detailed tracking or want a lower price companies, try out Twilio, Nexmo or Plivio.

Bottom line, third party call tracking gives you a plethora of great data to really sink your teeth into and optimize your campaigns. You can focus your budget on what is converting for your campaigns and toss out the rest; opening up your budget to focus on high quality conversions.

How are you utilizing third party systems to help your PPC accounts? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

HeatherGaskinsHeadshotHeather has spent her professional career working for small businesses and furthering their digital marketing efforts. In 2014, she began working as the Pay Per Click Manager and oversaw her own slew of clients on multiple PPC channels. When she’s not PPC-ing, she’s spending time with her two kids.