For many business owners a significant number of people who visit their site to learn about them call or visit their store to get more info their products or services instead of emailing or buying something straight from their site. Tracking whether a person came to your store or called your business because they saw a traditional print ad or they came to your site has been a thorn in the side of a lot of business owners.
For a while now there have been a number third party call tracking solutions. But there is definitely a monthly fee for using these, not to mention implementing call tracking reporting so you can see if the visits from PPC are generating new customers and sales.
Just the other day Google has come out with a form of call tracking for Adwords. It generates a unique number that a user can click on from either their desktop or smartphone and Adwords will track this. It also uses the technology behind Google Voice to track this info. Currently this is in beta.
How this new feature could be useful:
Think about a call you get to your business. How do you know where it came from? Did it come from your Adwords accounts, someone viewing your ad and then coming to your site? Or somewhere else? You could ask but this is rarely accurate (even with people who swear they have their receptionists ask each caller where they "heard about our business"). Why? Someone from your business could forget to ask where the caller heard about the business OR the person doesn't really care and either gives the wrong answer or forgets. After all they just want to get what they have to get done by calling you.
With Adwords call metrics now at least you'll know where people who call you after viewing one of your Adwords ads came from. That is, as long as they use the number they see on your ad. Which brings us to the potential downside.
Why this feature may not be a complete solution:
If the person clicks on your ad, goes to your site and uses the number on your site instead of the number in the ad, as far as we can tell right now it won't track this. So you still don't know if those calls are coming from Adwords.
If a person comes from organic search to your site and calls you this feature won't track this. You would still need some kind of call tracking solution for this.
So all in all, Google Adwords call metrics is an interesting first step to something many of us have wanted Google to do for a long time but not the definitive solution to call tracking. Ideally it would track all calls from Adwords, organic search and anywhere else and report that data in Adwords and Google Analytics.
Google has put out a kind of strange video about this. It is on the short side and you can view it below. For full information on Adwords call metrics and to see if it is available in your account to use, follow the links below:
Adwords call metrics help page.
How to set up Adwords call metrics: Google Ad Innovations