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Website Call Tracking

Badged Google Partner
# 1
Badged Google Partner

Is anyone else utilizing the website call tracking feature and having issues with it? We've been using it for a few months but we're running into some problems. Every once in a while a customer will call the number and get a "Sorry, this number is no longer in service" message. 

 

We've asked Google a few times why this would happen and they've never been able to give us an explanation. Is anyone else running into the same problem?

 

We're concerned about damaging our brand if more people are receiving that message than we know of. 

 

Any thoughts? Any suggestions for another call tracking service? 

 

Thanks! 

1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Website Call Tracking

[ Edited ]
Rising Star
# 2
Rising Star

We have run into this problem as well. One problem comes from people storing or sharing the tracking number. A few weeks after their first call, they use the number stored on their phone to try and call back. Meanwhile, Google has aged this number out ("no longer in service") or rotated it to another business ("no, this is Ray's Pizza). Google has not disclosed how long a number is associated with an account, but we assume the max time is the conversion setting I make in AdWords (usually 30 days). Day 31 - you get a not-in-service call.

As for freshly-minted numbers for new visitors, we have had reports of service-related error messages, dropped calls, and misdirected calls. The number is small, but when it happens in clusters over an hour or two a client can get pretty upset fast - especially since there is no way to determine the extent of any problem.

Again - no straight answer here as well, but when testing I've had a stored tracking number work when redialed on the same phone after a few weeks, but not function when dialed from Skype or Google Hangouts.

We have also noted quality problems when the call tracking goes to a phone tree. For example, when the caller pressed "2" the phone tree system picked it up as "22." There is a very technical explanation for this I won't bore you with (it involves switching technologies and very cheap VOIP systems clients buy), but net-net since there was no extension 22 the caller had a very poor experience. And the explanation we finally got was that Google recommends that tracked calls have a live person on the other end rather than a phone tree.

I definitely would not use it for branded search.

It's great being able to track calls back to a specific keyword and measure call conversions at that level, but it certainly isn't for every funnel. If you were dealing with hundreds or thousands of inbounds a day for a specific marketing event, the occasional technical glitch that AdWords call tracking might experience isn't statistically significant. Conversely, a small business that is not expecting a long-term relationship with the caller (a locksmith, limo company, restaurant, etc) isn't going to worry about the stored tracking number problems.

A lot of our clients, however, are establishing long-term relationships when they convert. So we've switched to our own in-house system we deploy via Google Tag Manager for these lower-volume - high value call-tracking calls, and calculate call conversions in GA at the ad group or campaign level.

I've used CallRail and DialogTech solutions as well and they are both good solutions for different niches - although they can be budget busters compared to the "free" AdWords solution. I know I've had DialogTech collect the gclid as a custom parameter, so you can get fine-level measurements - so in the end, how much error can your funnel tolerate and how much accuracy can your budget afford?

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Director of Marketing | Nehmedia | Partner Profile

Re: Website Call Tracking

Badged Google Partner
# 3
Badged Google Partner
Thanks for the insight! We had actually asked Google about what happens to the phone number after the 30-day conversion window is up and they told us it would still forward after the 30 days as long as we hadn't paused the campaign within that time period. Seemed odd to me but it sounds like you got a different answer. I wish support would give us a consistent answers. I never feel confident that I'm getting a 100% accurate answer from anyone.

Good to know about the phone tree systems. We have a few offices utilizing those so I'm wondering how many issues are occurring that we just aren't hearing about. It's fairly concerning! I'll look into the other methods you mentioned. Thanks again!

Re: Website Call Tracking

Rising Star
# 4
Rising Star
Just to clarify from reviewing my notes from our troubleshooting - in many cases the number did continue to forward correctly but we definitely had some local numbers drop or even go to another business after 30-60 days - because a couple of customers recorded the calls and forwarded them to our client.
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Director of Marketing | Nehmedia | Partner Profile