Google Phone Analytics: First Look & Set Up Guide

Google Analytics has recently released a closed beta of a new Phone Analytics feature. We were fortunate enough to be able to test this out for an UpBuild client. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

How Does Phone Analytics Work?

Phone Analytics functions similarly to most other phone-tracking tools.

Google’s documentation says it best:

Add a code snippet to your site that displays a Google-generated number that forwards calls to your business. Calls beyond a specified duration are considered conversions.

This enables Google to act as the operator between your business and potential customers calling the phone numbers that you specify. By doing this, Google can gather specific data about the caller, which they can then provide to you via your linked Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts.

It should go without saying, but there is absolutely no personally identifiable information (PII) in any of these Google Analytics reports. All of the data is anonymized, but still valuable enough to help you understand more about what is driving calls to your business.

I imagine that more dimensions will be added to the Phone metrics over time, but let’s take a closer look at what each of the new Phone Analytics reports offers in this closed beta so far.

Phone Analytics Reports

Overview

Similarly to the Overview report you get in other sections of GA, such as Behavior or Content, in this report you see a great overview of the calls you receive – even the ones your business missed. 

Here’s a summary of the available metrics with Phone Analytics:

MetricDefinition
Average Call DurationThe average length of time of calls to your number
Call Conversion RateThe number of calls / The number of times users saw your number on a page
Call Conversion ValueThe cumulative value of call conversions
Call ConversionsThe number of calls that resulted in a conversion
Call Through RateThe percentage of phone calls that resulted in a conversion
CallsThe number of phone calls users made to your number
Missed CallsThe number of calls made to your number that weren’t answered
Sessions with Phone NumbersThe number of sessions in which users viewed a page that included your number

All of these metrics can be broken down by the following dimensions:

  • Default Channel Grouping
  • Destination Phone Number
  • Source / Medium
  • Hour
  • Day of Week

Google’s documentation states that Region and City are also available in the Overview report, but as you can see from the screenshot above, those options are not included here. They’ll likely be added to the closed beta in the near future, or may have only rolled out to some closed beta users so far.

Channels

The Channels report allows you to see the same dimensions as above, in addition to the following Phone-specific dimensions:

  • Anonymized Caller ID
  • Call Start Time (PST)
  • Call End Time (PST)
  • Call Type
  • Caller Country Area Code
  • Destination Phone Label

This report can help you understand how effective different channels are at driving phone calls to your business.

Segments are not currently available for this report. You can, however, segment by paid channels in the Acquisition > Google Ads > Campaign report to help you see which paid campaigns are driving those calls.

The Phone Analytics metrics are also available as one of the metric-group options in Google Ads reporting. 

Location

In the Location report you can see a general location from which calls originate, and which of those areas are generating the most phone calls. Region, Metro and City dimensions are all available in this report.

It is worth noting that location data is only available for Google paid channels using the last non-direct click model.

Your Analytics property needs to be linked to your Google Ads, Search Ads 360 and/or Display & Video 360 accounts in order to show the geographic information and phone-call metrics for sessions attributed to these channels.

Call Log

As you can see from the screenshot above, the Call Log provides you with the Call Start Time and Call End Time. Interestingly there is also data for the Caller Country Area Code, the standout word there being Country: a likely sign that this feature might eventually expand beyond the US market.

Similar to the Location report, only Paid Search call data is shown in the Call Log at this time. There is no option to filter by any other Channel. Under Call Type, all entries show Received. It is safe to assume that this might also read Missed if the call is not picked up by the business.

This report will also show you the duration of each call, and depending on the length of time you set as a conversion, a simple Yes or No will display informing you as such.

We removed the Destination Phone Number in the screenshot above, but this will show you the phone number that was called to reach your business. This is useful if you plan on tracking multiple phone numbers (e.g. Customer Service, Sales, etc).

Prerequisites

To set up Phone Analytics, you need to:

  • Use a US phone number for your business
  • Use the global site tag to implement your measurement code
  • Link your Google Ads and Analytics accounts

To implement, there are two steps:

  • Set the options for your Analytics property
  • Update your Analytics measurement code with the Phone snippet

How to Set the Options in Google Analytics

If you have access to Phone Analytics, you can set it up in your Google Analytics account by navigating to Admin > Property > Phone Settings.

In this section, you are required to provide a Destination Number Label which best describes the phone number used on your site. The Destination Number is the phone number itself. The Conversion Threshold is the length of time (in seconds) that should pass to consider the call a conversion. You can determine this by using the average length of time that a sales representative spends on a phone call with a converting customer.

You can also include an optional Conversion Value. It is easy to determine the value if you have a single widget (e.g. $99, single-license registrations). It can be a little more complex if you have an ecommerce site that offers hundreds of items at a variety of price ranges. Here’s a great article that breaks down how to determine conversion value that you might find helpful.

You can add more than one phone number; you simply need to account for that in the Analytics measurement code.

Analytics Measurement Code

The documentation states that there are two circumstances in which you would need to update your measurement code.

  1. You are updating the existing gtag.js tags on your web pages to implement Phone Analytics.
  2. You are updating the existing gtag.js tags on your web pages to implement Phone Analytics and Google Ads Website Call Conversions.

Prerequisites aside, the confusing thing about presenting the circumstances in this way is that it implies a Google Ads account is not required, just a Google Analytics account. We tested, as instructed, implementing the first measurement code (shown below) if you are in circumstance number one and found that absolutely nothing happened

gtag('set', {
'phone_conversion_number': 'NUMBER_TO_REPLACE',
'phone_conversion_country_code': 'COUNTRY_CODE_TO_REPLACE',
'phone_conversion_ids': ['GA_MEASUREMENT_ID']
});

gtag('config', 'GA_MEASUREMENT_ID'); // (Note: you don't need to add this config command if you are already measuring this property with the global site tag.)

We came to the consensus that Google is assuming that you already have Google Ads Website Call Conversion tracking set up in the global site tag. It simply is not specified in this first measurement code example. Since there are other Channels in the Phone Analytics reports, eventually Google Ads may not be a baseline requirement, but for now, that seems to be the case.

The second measurement code, for those in circumstance number two, is a much more accurate example:

gtag('set', {
'phone_conversion_number': 'NUMBER_TO_REPLACE',
'phone_conversion_country_code': 'COUNTRY_CODE_TO_REPLACE',
'phone_conversion_ids': ['AW-CONVERSION_ID/CONVERSION_LABEL', 'GA_MEASUREMENT_ID']
});

gtag('config', 'GA_MEASUREMENT_ID');
gtag('config', 'AW_CONVERSION_ID');

This version of the measurement code displays all of the necessary attributes required for the Phone Analytics feature to function. 

Phone Conversion Number

The NUMBER_TO_REPLACE is quite simply the phone number that Google replaces across your site wherever it is displayed.

We recommend using the exact same format in which your phone number is displayed on your site, with parentheses, spaces and even hyphens if you are using them, e.g. (800) 888-8888. With that in mind, this would be a good time to ensure that your phone number is consistent sitewide. Google might be smart enough to identify a string of numbers (e.g. 8008888888) in your measurement code, but we didn’t have the opportunity to test that and confirm. To be on the safe side, we recommend simply replacing the NUMBER_TO_REPLACE value with the phone number exactly as it is shown to your users.

Phone Conversion Country Code

One aspect that was not made clear in the documentation is the value type required for ‘phone_conversion_country_code’.

There are country calling codes, two and three letter ISO codes, and even three-digit numeric codes, all of which could be considered “country codes.”

Furthermore, the placeholder for the value states ‘COUNTRY_CODE_TO_REPLACE’

This follows the requirement for ‘NUMBER_TO_REPLACE’ and, given the term REPLACE, one might assume this value should already be on the page, and is what the auto-generated phone number should replace.  At first we assumed this meant calling code — this was, after all, for Phone Analytics, and could potentially be included in a phone number on a page.

Our client’s phone number does not include a calling code on their website, but regardless we used +1, the calling code for US phone numbers, as the ‘phone_conversion_country_code’ value. 

After several hours of waiting we decided to see if removing the plus sign would make a difference, and simply used ‘1’.

Several hours later, still nothing appeared in Google Analytics.

Since a US phone number is a required prerequisite, it’s a wonder why this line is included at all. 

There was no clear answer in the single page of documentation, and we were amazed to learn that we could find no other information about this closed beta anywhere online.

We decided to start sleuthing to see if anyone else had implemented it. We used publicWWW, a source code search engine, to see if we could find another site that might also have access to this closed beta.

We searched for phone_conversion_country_code, and phone_conversion_number, and phone_conversion_idswe found nothing at all related to Phone Analytics.

We arrived at the decision to simply try what we hadn’t tried yet. We ultimately found that the correct phone_conversion_country_code value to use is the two digit ISO code, which at this time can only be: US.

Phone Conversion IDs

'phone_conversion_ids': ['AW-CONVERSION_ID/CONVERSION_LABEL', 'GA_MEASUREMENT_ID']

The GA_MEASUREMENT_ID is the Universal Analytics Tracking ID that is being used on your business site. It should look like this: UA-00000000-0

In order to obtain the AW-CONVERSION_ID/CONVERSION_LABEL you need to have a Conversion Action set up in Google Ads for phone calls. You would create a Conversion Action for each phone number that you would like to track via Phone Analytics. In doing so, you will be given a unique CONVERSION_LABEL for each. The AW-CONVERSION_ID will remain consistent, because this is set at the account level.

Your AW-CONVERSION_ID/CONVERSION_LABEL might look something like:

1072499436/B5hJ87g34gSsQ7314vX'

Let’s take a look at what it takes to set up a Conversion Action for phone call tracking specifically.

How to Set Up a Phone Call Conversion Action in Google Ads

In your Google Ads account, click Tools & Settings, then under the Measurement menu, click Conversions (as shown below).

From there you can add a new Conversion Action by clicking the blue plus sign.

Select Phone calls and Calls to a phone number on your website from the next screen, and then click Continue.

The next screen will provide you with several options that you can customize to your preferences. You can name the Conversion Action anything you’d like. You can also determine the length of time that you consider a phone call to be a conversion, and assign it a value if you’d like, all of which will appear in your reports.

For your reference, here are the working settings that we set up for our client:

Next, under Tag setup, select the “Use Google Tag Manager” option:

There you can see the Conversion ID and Conversion label for this Conversion Action:

You simply use these two values, separated by a forward slash, as shown in the example:  AW-CONVERSION_ID/CONVERSION_LABEL

Policy Requirements for Phone Analytics

If you use Phone Analytics in Google Analytics, you must also provide clear notice (e.g., via a Privacy Policy or another common disclosure method) to your users that information about any calls they make to the phone numbers on your site may be collected by Google Analytics in conjunction with their activity on your site or app for purposes of measuring phone-call and user-conversion metrics.

Here is the simple one we made, using their own language, for your reference:

Information about any calls you make to the phone numbers on this site may be collected by Google Analytics in conjunction with your activity on this site for purposes of measuring phone-call and user-conversion metrics.

Assessing the Call Data

Once we had everything all up and running, we waited for data to arrive in Google Analytics so we could start analyzing it. Here’s what we noticed after one week had passed.

On June 16, we noticed that only 2 calls had been tracked the day prior – a stark difference when compared to the rest of the week. We know that this information isn’t instantly passed into Google Analytics, and we assumed that it was a simple delay in the data.

A few days later, on June 19, we checked in again and sure enough, 64 calls were now showing in the same report for June 15.

However, when toggling to the Hourly view, only 2 calls were showing for the entire day.

The Call Log report also only showed 2 calls:

This leads us to believe that the other 62 calls that occurred on this day came from other channels – and these reports are simply not displaying this data.

In the span of one week, the Phone Overview report acknowledged a total of 260 calls.

The Phone Channel and Log reports, however, only reported 15 calls, all coming from Paid Search.

Google Analytics can clearly identify the number of calls, and even the number of sessions each channel presents a phone number to the end user.

So why not show all the other Channel data?

Uncovering Missing Data

It is important to remember that we are evaluating a closed-beta Google Analytics feature. The missing analytics data will more than likely be a non-issue once it is rolled out for all users.

We did, however, want to share what you can do to bridge the gap a little.

Track Phone Number Click/Touch Events

With Google Analytics Event tracking, we can send anonymized user data each time a phone number is clicked (or, in the case of touchscreen devices, tapped) on your site. 

While we won’t be able to see all of the metrics under the Phone Analytics reports, we can see other information such as channels, location, and even the page the phone call click/tap Event occurred, in Google Analytics’ Event tracking reports. This can help provide us with some insight behind the missing phone call data. We recommend using Google Tag Manager to apply this tracking across your site, then comparing the Event data with Phone Analytics data to get additional insights about phone call behavior. 

Set up a Phone Call Trigger in GTM

The instructions below assume you have already implemented Google Tag Manager on your site.

First, create a new trigger with the following conditions (as shown in the screenshot above):

  • Trigger Type – [Click – Just Links]
  • Wait for Tags –
  • Check Validation –  
  • Enable this trigger when all of these conditions are true:
    • Page URL matches RegEx .*
      • Note: This RegEx rule essentially means “match any character in any quantity”, and will ensure that this trigger occurs across all pages on the site it is applied to.
  • This trigger fires on:
    • Click URL contains tel:

Now let’s talk about how this trigger works and what tel: means.

If you haven’t already, you will want to make sure that the phone number you want to track is able to make a phone call using the following HTML format: 

<a href="tel:123-456-7890">123-456-7890</a>

By adding tel: to the beginning of a phone number in an HREF tag (as shown above) we are able to initiate phone calling capabilities from the user’s device. Be sure that you replace the phone number in the example above with your business phone number (not the Google generated number). 

It’s important to append the colon after tel (i.e. tel:), in case a URL happens to contain the sequence of letters tel. The ensures that the trigger we set up will only be enabled when a URL contains a phone number.

If you happen to use an extension in your phone number, you can use the format below. This dials the number, waits one second, and then dials extension. You can set it to wait for a dial tone by using w instead of p.

<a href="tel:123-456-7890p123">123-456-7890</a>

You can also use text instead of a phone number, if you would prefer to use an enticing call to action for the anchor text:

<a href="tel:123-456-7890p123">Call Me Maybe</a>

It is worth mentioning here that you should ensure that the phone number you want to track is displayed prominently on your site – especially on a mobile device. Evaluate possible conversion points on your site and make sure your phone number is easily found or readily available for a user to interact with.

Set up the Google Analytics Event Tag

Once the trigger is set up, create a new tag with the following conditions (as shown in the screenshot above):

  • Tag Type – [Google Analytics: Universal Analytics]
  • Track Event Type – Event
  • Category – Phone Call
  • Action – Click
  • Label – {{Page Path}}
  • Google Analytics Settings 
    • Here you add your Universal Analytics Tracking ID. If you don’t already have this set up as a GTM Variable, you can simply enable overriding settings and add your Tracking ID that way. You can find this in your Google Analytics account under Admin > Property Settings > Tracking ID.

The Category, Action, and Label fields can essentially be any values you like. The values in this field will be used in your Google Analytics reports. We suggest using something simple and descriptive such as “Phone Call” and “Click” to help you identify them more easily. We also recommend that you use the predefined GTM variable {{Page Path}}, which will display the page path that the event occurred. The event in this case being a phone call link interaction.

That’s it!

Once you have published these changes, you should be able to see when a user clicks/touches the configured phone number links on your site. 

You will be able to see the phone call click data in Google Analytics under Behavior > Events. In these reports you can uncover the channel, location, device and much more. This can help provide a little more insight behind the calls that occurred that aren’t being covered in the Phone Analytics reports.

It’s important to note that you won’t be able to see the instances where users called your business and did not click the phone number link with this particular method.

We Like It!

Overall these new reports are great. We look forward to seeing Phone Analytics rolled out to its full potential. We will try to follow up with any new additions that we see with these reports as they arrive.

Have you had the opportunity to try the closed beta? Are you intrigued by anything this post has highlighted?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. 

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