AdWords conversion tracking can be a bear. Whether you’re trying to track a content download, a demo request, or a view-through in-store visit (I’m only joking), you have to deal with conversion action setup, code implementation, and some testing to make sure your desired action is being tracked and attributed accurately.
Unfortunately, all of this work can be confusing and time-consuming, which often leads to some conversions – such as on-site phone calls – not being tracked.
When I started working with J Coates H.G.V. Services last November, this was exactly the situation that my point of contact, Andrew, and I were dealing with.
J Coates H.G.V. Services is a provider of driver and transport training courses in the UK. They operate in many locations across the country and do a great job of making sure that truck drivers of all sorts are trained and certified to be on the road.
In their AdWords account, they were tracking course quotes and bookings, but they weren’t seeing too many conversions come through from those actions alone. With only 4 or 5 conversions trickling in each week in AdWords, it was a little difficult to make regular keyword bid adjustments and other tweaks in the account that often come easy with a lot of conversion data.
When I discussed this on my weekly call with Andrew, he told me that his company receives a lot of course bookings over the phone, but that he had never tracked those phone call conversions in AdWords. After I explained the basics of on-site call tracking to him, I got to work and created conversion actions for all 12 phone numbers listed on his site homepage.
Before I get into the results, I want to quickly walk through how on-site call tracking works and how to set it up properly. The concept of on-site call tracking is really simple – when someone clicks on a search ad and goes to a website, we’re able to see if that user calls the phone number listed on the website. Google is able to track this with a forwarding number that only shows up when someone reaches the site after clicking on a search ad.
For example, if someone searches for “J Coates Birmingham” and clicks on one of our branded ads, all of the phone numbers shown in the screenshot above will be different. If the searcher calls the number listed under “Birmingham,” the call will be forwarded to the actual phone number for that office, and a conversion will be attributed to our brand campaign. Pretty cool, right?
Let’s jump into a typical phone call conversion setup.
First, navigate to the “Conversions” tab in settings:
Once you’re there, click on the blue “+” symbol at the top and select “Phone calls” as the kind of conversion you want to track. Three phone call options are shown, but click the middle one since we’re looking to track calls to a number listed on the website. If you want to know more about the other options, check out this helpful video from Google that explains all of them better than I ever could.
The next page will have a lot of different settings that let you assign a value to your conversion, choose how many conversions to count, and also select the required call length. The required call length will most likely vary by business, so definitely keep this in mind. In the case of J Coates, a phone call lasting just 15 seconds probably isn’t leading to a course booking, so that’s excluded.
Now it’s time to get our conversion tracking code. If you only have 1 phone number displayed on your website, choose the top option and enter your phone number exactly as it appears on your website. Once you place the tracking tag on your site, Google will find that number on your site and replace it with a forwarding number when someone reaches your site after clicking on a search ad. Since J Coates has multiple numbers listed on the site, I have to choose the second option that requires us to manually edit the website code so that forwarding numbers show up in place of the original numbers.
Since each phone number on the site requires a unique conversion tracking code, I had to create 12 conversion actions in the account – it was a lot of work, but definitely worth it. Here’s the finished product:
Almost immediately after the code was placed on the J Coates website, we saw a huge uptick in conversions. We went from 4-6 conversions per week to 50-60. A whopping 80% of total conversions were on-site phone calls.
With the massive increase in conversions, Andrew and I were able to recognize that the AdWords campaigns running were much more valuable than we thought. Before on-site call tracking was in place there was no way of knowing whether phone calls were coming from organic or paid traffic. Additionally, we realized that a lot of keywords that didn’t drive many online quotes and course bookings in the past did a great job of driving phone calls, opening the doors to some really beneficial keyword bid adjustments. Day of week bid adjustments became pretty obvious with all of the conversion data, too. We’re pulling back big time on weekends since conversion rates are low then – something we learned with just 2 weeks of data:
Overall, there was so much hidden opportunity that we uncovered by implementing on-site call tracking. The list of optimizations goes far beyond just keyword bid adjustments and dayparting, too. We have more data to work with, making account management easier and more impactful.
Conversion tracking – especially phone call tracking – can be puzzling and difficult to setup, but it can have a positive impact on performance and account management. If you’re stuck, you can find a solution by reading blogs, doing research, or asking Google for help with implementation. Online advertising is so popular and valuable due to the fact that ROI/CPA can be calculated with relative ease, so start tracking all of your website actions!
Grant Edrington is a Paid Search Coordinator on WordStream’s Managed Services team. When he’s not managing his clients’ PPC accounts, he’s usually cheering on the Villanova Wildcats in basketball or beating his co-workers in ping-pong on the 6th floor. You can find him on LinkedIn here.
See other posts by Grant Edrington
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