You work hard to optimize your ads and either get consumers to your website or get them to call your business directly. But how can you tell when the person who calls your business did so as the result of your Google ads? If the number on your website and in your ads is always the same, you have no way of knowing.
Now you can measure phone calls that are triggered by your ads in AdWords. Google has just announced the launch of website call conversions, a dynamic forwarding number insertion feature that enables the measurement of calls from a website visitor who landed on the site as a result of an AdWords ad click. This is similar but not identical to WordStream’s own Google Ads call tracking software (more on that later).
The ability to track where your calls are coming from and how your PPC campaigns affect call volume and quality is huge for advertisers. Of course, this goes beyond the ability to measure – it allows advertisers to shape their strategy and optimize ad performance. For example, you can change your Google Ads bids with Enhanced Campaigns, based on the time of day, device and location – e.g. bidding more for mobile ads if those calls convert better. Call tracking enables you to more accurately calculate conversion values, understand which calls convert best and better optimize your Google Ads bids.
Google provides a snippet of code you can add to your desktop or mobile site. A unique Google forwarding number is generated for each Google Ads ad click and will continue to display to the user for up to 90 days so you can track conversions on any future calls from that visitor. You can customize the color, font and size of the numbers as they appear on your site, to ensure they’re consistent with your overall design.
Once the code is working, results are available in conversion reporting and in Call Details. Google will display the number of calls you’ve received and other details including the call length.
The feature is currently available only to advertisers in the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Australia. (Sorry, Canada!)
Google does note that this solution works alongside third-party tracking options – this is important to note, as Google’s tracking doesn’t offer all of the features available to WordStream customers. For example, WordStream offer a “Whisper” feature that tells you before the call connects that the call is coming from a person who clicked an ad. WordStream’s call tracking also offers a call recording feature that allows you to record and play back calls to your tracking number, which is obviously helpful for optimization and training purposes.
Google’s solution isn’t entirely straightforward to set up, but they have offered a step-by-step tutorial to help advertisers get started.
First, you’ll need an active call extension. If you don’t have one, you can set it up in the Ad Extensions tab in your Google Ads account.
See Google’s Help resource if you’re having any trouble with existing call extensions.
The first is generated in the Tools > Conversions tab in Google Ads. Here, you’ll enter the name of a conversion you’d like to track, such as “Orders” or “Appointment booking calls.” After setting your preferences, you can choose to copy the code and add it to your site’s HTML yourself, or have it emailed automatically to whoever makes changes to your website.
The second piece of JS is a code snippet that replaces your own phone number with a Google forwarding number using the _googWcmGet function, which has three parameters: target, business_number and options.
There are different options as far as where the function code will be inserted on your page. This process may make set-up more daunting for small businesses that manage their own sites.
Once you have the code in place, it’s important to check that it’s working. Unfortunately, the method Google recommends to do so requires that you do a search that will bring up your ad and click on the ad – yes, you’ll have to pay for the click. You should see your phone number replaced with the Google forwarding number.
Important: Google warns that if you’re testing repeatedly, you should delete the “gwcm” cookie from your browser. You don’t want to send a signal to Google that you might be manipulating the system by clicking repeatedly on your own ads.
Obviously, Google’s website call tracking isn’t compatible with other ad networks, so you won’t be able to use it to track ad activity from Bing Ads or other networks.
As mentioned above, your Google call forwarding number will last for “up to 90 days.” If it works like Google Voice, the number could be recycled after a month or so of inactivity – this could be a problem for seasonal businesses, for example. (WordStream clients’ call tracking numbers are exclusively dedicated to that business for the lifetime of the customer.)
One other issue that may affect some advertisers is that although Google displays the caller’s full telephone number on the company’s call display when the call is made, it’s not available in reporting. Only the caller’s area code is available to advertisers.
Also, there’s a bug that allows the same number to appear on different websites if you have more than one website associated with the same Google Ads account. Learn more about this call conversions bug here.
Google’s website call conversion tracking is compatible with other tracking solutions and does work alongside click-to-call ads.
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