Phone call tracking is the process of measuring all the in-bound calls to a business and determining what source drove the call. With the rise of smartphones, people now have the opportunity to see something on the Internet and immediately call for more information, or to place an order. Being able to attribute the marketing channel that drove each call is often the missing piece to the analytics puzzle for many businesses. And as attribution is an essential component of advertising, phone call tracking is an imperative.

How Phone Call Tracking Works

How does phone tracking software work?  The software uses a dynamic number insertion (DNI) code that is placed on your website. The DNI code changes the phone numbers on your website with trackable phone numbers (local, international or toll-free). Each number is based on how the visitor found you. When the visitor calls, all the data that led to each of their visits and activity is connected to the call.

Good call tracking software will isolate the marketing source that drove the call. It will also allow the marketer to see the caller’s history with your website.  You see what got the caller to the site, down to the keyword. The advertiser see the entry page, all the content they viewed (and for how long), and the page the prospect called from. The marketer will know the phone number from which the inquiry was made, geographic location, the day and time of the call, their browser and OS. The system also remembers the source of the original visit. If a website visitor comes from one digital source but does not call, then returns to the site directly a few days later and calls, the original lead source is credited.

Phone call tracking is especially valuable with paid search campaigns. The software can attribute the  keyword that spurred the inquiry, which allows the advertiser to fine tune keywords and budget allocation.

Offline Call Tracking

Call tracking can be used with offline advertising as well as online. People often jot down the phone number they see or hear in a traditional ad. Marketers can assign additional numbers to off-line advertising so that they can track those lead sources. Depending on the advertising you can assign unique phone numbers to each radio or TV station that you are buying. Call data collected from each media will help with optimization.

Every marketing lead source should have its own trackable numbers. Get as granular as possible, so if you are buying 3 radio stations, use 3 unique numbers. That said, if you are buying 10 – 12 cable stations that may not be possible. But if you are buying 2 different cable systems you should always differentiate. Tracking phone numbers is not an expensive proposition but wasting ad dollars can be. The better you track, the more precisely you can optimize.

Vanity Numbers

Occasionally, marketers will ask about their vanity phone number. Unless your name is your phone number (1-800-Flowers) and you have done a tremendous job of branding, people will probably not remember it. It is too easy on a smart phone to search the business and click-to-call. You want people to remember your name and your brand.  Once they know that, they will find you.


Tracking and optimization go hand in hand. If you don’t know what lead source generated the call it is very hard to optimize and measure ROI. Call tracking helps you identify the most productive advertising channels. Eliminating poor performing media frees up funds for good producers. And since optimization can make a good ad campaign into a great one, why wouldn’t you track all your phone calls?