Why Google Call Tracking Isn’t Ideal for Marketing Agencies

In September of 2014, Google made the announcement that it would be launching its basic call tracking solution for AdWords. Since then, the marketing agency circuit has been abuzz with questions about Google call tracking from their own clients and prospects, competitors, media and random people on Twitter.

Google refers to its variation of AdWords call tracking “Website Call Conversions,” and while it’s true that when a formidable entity such as Google makes an announcement about something new the world sits up and takes notice, there are some incompatibilities about its call tracking approach that need to be made clear.

Google has essentially offered session-based call tracking for AdWords only – it is free, but it is designed only for AdWords. It does not work for Google organic search, the Google Display Network or for any lead source anywhere on the web except for AdWords. According to Google representatives, the company’s website call conversions approach dynamically inserts a Google forwarding number on a business’ website that measures the calls made by customers once Google search ads send these customers to the website, where they’re expected to research and learn more about the business. Whether they click on the number or dial it directly from their phone, the business can attribute the call conversion and conversion value back to the keyword and ad that drove the customer.

But this only allows companies to attribute calls to specific ads, campaigns and keywords WITHIN AdWords. Indeed, Google call tracking isn’t the ideal solution for marketing agencies, and here’s why:

  • It only works for AdWords, and most marketers use AdWords as a mere part of their broader marketing mix; if calls result from a Google organic search, Google’s display network or ANY other source, Google call tracking simply won’t track that call.
  • There is no call recording option offered.
  • There are no in-depth call analytics in place, and this is a major element for many companies working with marketing agencies. Basic call tracking, because it is not powerful on its own, requires the boost of deep call analytics – “conversion analysis” – because THAT’S where the power of phone calls truly lies.
  • Only toll-free numbers – no local numbers – are available for analysis, posing a problem for small businesses and enterprises with a local presence.
  • There are no telephone features such as geo-routing, IVR, scheduled routing and call routing, and these features matter to businesses.

Will there be some small prospects or agencies that decide to use Google’s AdWords call tracking? Perhaps. But, should they simply ignore the call data generated by their other online marketing efforts? Absolutely not.

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