Everyone must have seen in popular blockbusters how, in literally one minute, secret service agents track phone calls. In real life, however, things aren’t so straightforward.
How to track sources of incoming calls
Call source tracking is the identification of an advertisement, an Internet resource, or other advertising media, where the user saw information about the company and made a call. You can track the source of an incoming call in two ways: static and dynamic.
Static tracking is the assignment of one phone number to one advertising source or ad. When a customer calls the company, it’s known exactly where they saw the ad.
Dynamic call tracking is the assignment of a unique phone number to each user during one session on the website. After the user makes a call, it’s known:
- From which Internet ad the user came to the site.
- What keyword the user used to find the company’s ad.
- What pages of the site were viewed during the session.
- How many times the user visited the site before calling, or this is the first visit.
And you can also ask customers the old-fashioned way, where they learned about the company, or give them a questionnaire to fill out. The method is good for conversation, but not for serious analytics, users often don’t remember where they saw the ads.
The system for tracking the source of the call is called call tracking. A script installed on the site collects information about user conversions from advertising sources and their behavioral characteristics. The data is transmitted to Google Analytics and stored in the personal account of the manager (the employee responsible for analyzing incoming calls).
How does the call-tracking service work
When you connect call tracking, the company is allocated a certain number of phone numbers, which are distributed between advertising sources and ads. The pool of numbers is determined based on the number of advertising media, resources, ads, and the average number of users who arrive at the site at one time.
For example, different numbers are placed on a billboard, in a mailing, on a flyer or radio ad, and on a company’s website and are tied to user sessions. Depending on which advertising media are involved, phone call tracking methods can be combined or only one can be used.
With the help of a script installed on the site through Google Tag Manager, the system collects information on all calls that came to the allocated phone numbers, namely:
- The telephone number of the caller.
- The source of the ad is on the Internet or offline (billboard, flyer, TV video, etc.).
- The key query is used to find the ad in Google Ads.
- The pages of the site that the user visited during the session.
- The history of visits to the site, if this isn’t the first visit of the user.
Why do you need call-tracking and what kind of call-tracking is it
This technology is needed for all kinds of businesses that do lead generation through calls. And there are actually a lot of them. Because it’s easier to sign up, make an appointment, order, confirm, or make an app over the phone. To attract, find and reach the target audience that will make those calls, you need advertising.
When static and dynamic call-tracking are used simultaneously, it’s a combined type. It’s used when general data from statistical call-tracking is sufficient for one campaign, and in-depth analysis from dynamic call-tracking is important for others.
How have phone calls been tracked in the past
In the past, calls were routed through a network of physical switches by an army of human operators. Traditionally, these operators were almost exclusively women. When a call came in, the operator routed it to its destination by physically connecting it to a separate port on the switchboard. However, progress gradually began to make its impact.
Over time, the technology used to make calls automatically became progressively more complex. Eventually, when telephones moved out of the office and payphones into the home, it was able to handle large volumes. People were able to call long distances. Still, the basic principles remained the same.
Tracking calls used to be a complicated process. In the absence of computer metadata, the responsibility fell on the phone company. After certain processes, the phone company turned it over to law enforcement.
It was a time-consuming process, requiring the negotiator or police officer to keep the call active as long as possible. If the suspect hung up, it was game over for the cops. They had to either try again or find another way to catch the criminal.
This is probably where Hollywood gets its inspiration. Of course, they show some poetic license. Tracing the calls inevitably took more than a minute or two. However, technical precision is often sacrificed to the unknown.
How are phone calls tracked now
After all, computerization finally embraced the telecommunications sector. Gradually it took over such tasks as routing calls that had previously been performed by humans or mechanical operators.
Calls no longer have to be tracked manually through switches. Law enforcement also didn’t have to track calls in real time-they could simply look at the metadata generated by the calls. Law enforcement has made it easier than ever to trace routine phone calls. You can thank the computerization of the telephone system for that.
Of course, there are other ways criminals can communicate and evade the thin blue line, such as through VPNs and encrypted voice apps.