Telephone Tracking

Telephone tracking is a method of measuring conversions by telephone, similar to conversion tracking. It is an instrument for monitoring the success of advertising.

Goals of Telephone tracking[edit]

Telephone tracking was created because there used to be no way of tracking conversions over the phone. Different methods of web analysis make it possible to follow the entire conversion path of a buyer, e. g. from the first click on an advertising banner, through information research on opinion portals to visiting the website and subsequent purchase.

However, if the customer calls the service hotline of the provider during this conversion path, this will not usually appear in the conversion tracking. It is not possible to understand to what extent the telephone call influenced the purchase decision - in both a positive and a negative sense.

This is where the phone tracking comes in. It determines extensive data for each caller and thus also enables the evaluation of telephone calls and the assignment to specific advertising media.

Functioning Principle[edit]

Telephone tracking usually works on the basis of different telephone numbers that are assigned to different visitor sources or advertising material.


A local craftsman advertises his company using various media, and has different telephone numbers displayed for each advertising campaign:

  • Online Marketing (Banner Advertising): 01234/567-80
  • Advertisements in the daily newspaper: 01234/567-81
  • Radio advertising: 01234/567-82
  • cinema advertisement: 01234/567-83
  • Sponsoring of football jerseys: 01234/567-84

If a radio listener calls the telephone number 01234/567-82, he or she will reach the tradesman as with the other four telephone numbers. However, the latter can evaluate via his telephone system or via his telephone tracking service provider which advertising measure led to the call.

Types of Telephone Tracking[edit]

Different types of telephone tracking can be distinguished in particular with regard to the effort and costs involved:

Telephone tracking using media-specific telephone numbers[edit]

This variant corresponds to the above-mentioned example of the craftsman. The advertiser sets up a separate telephone number for each advertising medium. As soon as an interested person uses one of these telephone numbers, the advertiser can assign which medium has been used to draw the caller's attention to the company. However, he can’t find out for example whether he owes the call in the daily newspaper or whether the Wednesday or Saturday edition was responsible for the call.

Cookie based telephone tracking[edit]

This system is very simplified. It assumes that only one visitor at a time is on a website. Among other data, it is recorded which add or campaign brought the user to the website. Cookies are used for this purpose, which are stored locally by the user. If a call is then received, the system assumes that the caller is this visitor and records it as a conversion.

This solution is very cost-effective and easy to implement. However, it is difficult to concentrate on a single visitor. If there are several visitors at the same time or the user who visited the website an hour ago decides to call, wrong conclusions are drawn and the conversion is assigned to the wrong caller and thus to the wrong campaign.

Telephone Tracking with Google Adwords[edit]

In Google AdWords, the possibility of showing a phone number in addition to the advertisement (ad extension) has existed for a while. In addition, Google AdWords customers can also set up call forwarding free of charge. Google Inc. Google provides free 0800 numbers for this purpose, which can be used for tracking different campaigns and even individual keywords.

The great advantage of this system is the high accuracy with which it works. AdWords customers can analyze the success of their campaigns right down to the keyword level. However, the disadvantage of this method is that it is limited to Google AdWords – if the user clicks on the ad and calls using the (different) telephone number indicated on the website, this will not be recorded.

Telephone tracking using telephone number pools[edit]

If it is too expensive to register large numbers of individual telephone numbers, so-called telephone number pools can also be used. This involves registering a certain number of telephone numbers and assigning them to campaigns as usual. When the last call number is displayed in the context of an ad, the sequence starts again and the first call number is reassigned.

A good deal of sensitivity is required to ensure that the dual awarding of contracts is not too close to each other. If the person to whom the call number was first displayed calls the advertiser later, the conversion is incorrectly assigned. The advantage of this method is that it is considerably cheaper than working with individual telephone numbers. It is also possible to track the callers at keyword level.

Telephone tracking with Indent code[edit]

It is also possible to assign an individual identification code to each visitor to the company website, which must be entered by the visitor during a telephone call. This way, it can be unambiguously assigned to the respective session. This method is comparatively inexpensive. However, there is a risk that the telephone staff will forget to ask for the code and thus only incomplete data is collected.

Significance for Online Marketing[edit]

Telephone tracking is particularly important for entrepreneurs who sell products that require explanation or who make a significant part of their purchases by telephone. In these cases, simply looking at the conversion paths with the help of web analysis would lead to false results, since the conversions are often prepared or even accelerated by previous service calls.

Telephone tracking is also used to track classic advertising campaigns (e. g. TV and radio commercials, print advertisements, advertising letters, flyers). In addition, any online marketing activities can be tracked, such as Google AdWords campaigns, social media marketing and search engine traffic. This makes it possible to bridge the media gap between online and offline and to visualize and analyze the entire conversion chain.

Web Links[edit]