The Impact and Retail Challenges of Call Tracking

By Tinuiti Team

The Impact of Call Tracking

Call tracking technology records information about incoming calls to your business. Retailers can use call tracking software to figure out which ads are leading to phone calls / conversions and compile important data about their leads that can be used to directly impact performance-based advertising efforts.

This in-depth tracking is ideal for monitoring organic, mobile, social, and AdWords campaigns. Call tracking can also determine the success of specific keywords in a PPC campaign.

If retailers don’t take a closer look at call tracking data or are not tracking it all together – they could miss out on significant opportunities to improve their marketing campaigns.

Call tracking services generate reports based on:


Call tracking is just one of many pathways retailers can monitor in their attribution model.

The attribution model is a rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in the conversion path.

In ecommerce, attribution can be a complicated concept for retailers to understand but it’s imperative for retailers to know which marketing channels or campaigns are having the most impact on their customers.

Why is Call Tracking Important to Retailers?

By dissecting the pathways that customers take to discover and make a purchase, retailers can better inform their budget and marketing strategy.

Most retailers can agree that a large portion (if not all) of their marketing budget will be devoted to their online business. In response to the vast landscape and multiple touchpoints within an online purchase such as email, social media, SEO and PPC – it’s important to understand how each of these channels – specifically call tracking, relate and support each other throughout the shopper’s journey.

Retailers use call tracking to assemble important data to influence advertising efforts including:


According to a Deloitte report, nearly half (48%) of all US consumers own a smartphone and roughly 58% of consumers who own a smartphone used it for store-related shopping.

Once consumers start using their smartphones for shopping they tend to use them a lot — typically for 50-60% of their store shopping trips.

linkedIn“Retailers should pay specific attention to the rise in mobile shoppers,” Jonathan Moran, Global Demand Marketing Manager at Response Tap said.

“Many mobile sites now offer ‘click to dial’ on numbers within the site but have no way of joining the customer journey until that point, making it difficult to attribute the success of campaigns.”

“Shopping cart abandonment can often be seen as a lost sale, when actually the customer has chosen to pick up the phone. Shopping cart abandonment can also lead to some businesses thinking a particular channel is not working or the web content needs to be changed when actually it is performing quite well and making sales offline.”

Because call tracking services provide retailers with much more information than just “how many calls come from each of your marketing platforms”, this data can have a direct impact and help many businesses streamline their marketing efforts and maximize ROI.

For example, if a sports apparel retailer invests heavily in their PPC advertising to generate leads – call tracking will provide them with information about which landing pages are profitable and which ones need improvement or additional testing.

Call tracking (if implemented across your sales team) can also help company leaders better understand who among their sales team is effectively turning leads into customers through calls.

Using this information, marketing professionals can determine which keyword group(s) to invest the most resources because of high conversion rates.

Valuable Call Tracking Reports for Retailers

Call tracking metrics retailers should monitor to improve their marketing efforts:

1) Performance of your PPC landing page

Typically, when customers visit a PPC landing page they either opt into a form with their contact information or call a number directly. Unfortunately, if retailers don’t have call tracking in place – they could be misinterpreting or missing out on incoming conversion data.

Without call tracking in place, a retailer might be under the impression their landing page conversion rate is much lower. This could negatively influence their campaign structure (when it’s quite possible the page is performing well thanks to phone conversions).

2) Conversion rates

As we mentioned above, calls are a touchpoint in the conversion path. Retailers should have a good pulse on how often customers call in orders and convert. Customers frequently call in for additional information about a product and continue to shop around and compare similar items (even after the call has ended).

Retailers should be tracking that initial call so they understand it’s origin and attribution if the conversion does go through at a later point in the shopper’s journey.

In our experience, we typically see calls surface for bulk order and custom order requests. If retailers are not monitoring these conversion rates they could misinterpret a sale. (For example: A $10,000 custom kitchen appliance order for a restaurant chain).

3) Cost per lead

Of course a better understanding of your call conversion rate is going to impact your knowledge of cost per lead. If you’re willing to spend on your PPC campaigns – then you should be able to track the impact of those efforts. Without call attribution – retailers are likely to misinterpret this data as well.

4) Number of incoming calls

Having a holistic view on your incoming call data will directly impact your marketing strategy. If retailers are working with a call tracking provider – they do not have to manually monitor the amount of calls coming in. This information will be recorded and provided to retailers through reports to help influence your ROI metrics.

In most cases, each channel with be assigned a different phone number to help better understand where the customer found your advertisement.

Pro-Tip: The call tracking number for Google Shopping could be different than the call tracking number for an ad found on eBay. This makes it much easier to track attribution through the customer’s journey to purchase.

5) Call duration

Initially, retailers might not give much thought to the value of a call’s duration.

As you might expect, we see better conversions rates in response to longer call times.

We can assume if someone is interested in making a purchase (Example: bulk order uniforms for a high school football team) they are going to have a few questions about the type of fabric, logo and sizes. The more detailed the call, the more likely a sale is expected. It’s important to check which campaigns (landing pages, ads, keywords, etc) are driving those longer phone conversations.

6) Location & time

Retailers can adjust their bids based on time and location. Call tracking allows retailers to monitor which times of the day (and locations) warrant the most popular times for conversion rate increase. As we mentioned – all of this data will directly influence how marketers allocate their advertising budget.

Call tracking is likely to benefit:

So, what is the leading difficulty for retailers and call tracking?

Surprisingly, many companies still don’t have call tracking in place even though it is considered a fairly low price investment. It’s important to note that professional service providers will monitor multiple tracking sources (Google Shopping, Bing, eBay) while AdWords’ call tracker will only provide retailers with access to data related to Google Shopping advertisements.

tien-ngyuenUnfortunately, retailers who don’t take the time to properly train and manage their team on call tracking software are likely to experience missed data since most of the tracking technology still requires documentation by a sales person.

“One of the main challenges is having to have current team members adopt the new platform, whatever it may be, in order to log each sale/transaction,” Tien Nguyen, Director of Technology at CPC Strategy said.

“Ideally, you’ll want to use a different call tracking number for each different marketing platform so that you can more accurately track the performance of each.”

What about Adwords Free Call Tracker?

Although we recommend service providers for call tracking, Google AdWords does offer a free tool to help retailers  track call-only ads and ads with call extensions.

AdWords Call Tracking:

Before you can set up AdWords conversion tracking from ads you will require:

Pro-Tip: According to recent findings, we don’t recommend using AdWords Call Tracking at this time due to issues with integration. If you would like to learn more about available call tracking service providers, please email [email protected]


You Might Be Interested In

*By submitting your Email Address, you are agreeing to all conditions of our Privacy Policy.