Tracking phone calls from your website can give you excellent insight into not only the success of your campaigns in terms of generating the calls, but also customer insights such as frequently asked questions, compliments!

There are several different tools on the marketing ranging from a “roll your own” type call tracking solution to enterprise level call tracking solutions. Some solutions even offer features beyond tracking of the calls such as distribution of calls to a phone bank and more.

There are two tools that seOverflow currently uses to track phone calls for our clients:




CallRail (disclaimer we are also CallRail affiliates)



Century Interactive

We use two different solutions rather than one so that we can pick the most appropriate solution for our clients tracking needs and budget. Each one has different features (good and bad) that need to be considered for each project. Honestly both leave something to be desired however they are much better than nothing, and both are typically cost effective for our clients

CallRail was inspired by my blog post a few years back on how to roll your own call tracking system using Twilio. Twilio is a very cool voice application API with tons of features. CallRail has taken the “roll your own” idea and put it on steroids with an easy to use configuration interface and nice looking, useful reporting features. The price is right for small businesses starting at $30 per month which includes 10 tracking numbers and 500 minutes of call time which should be plenty for most businesses. The setup wizard walks you through provisioning numbers and setting up tracking rules for who should see your tracking number (organic visitors, Google PPC, etc.)

We’ve had great support from the founder Andy and his team who quickly fix any bugs we find and are very responsive in adding new features and answering quick questions. They also have an affiliate program which is nice so that we can send our clients directly to CallRail and not have to send our clients a phone bill each month.

The CallRail solution is also “local SEO friendly” meaning it works via number replacement using JavaScript. This means the search engines still see your real phone number persevering your local NAP consistency. While there has been some debate. as to whether this is “cloaking” or whether it could harm you local SEO in anyway we’ve not seen any evidence of this with dozens of clients.

The downside to CallRail unfortunately also lies with the backend that makes it so powerful, Twilio. While phone numbers directly from Twilio are relatively cheap ($1 per local number per month, and 1 cent per minute), they are not cheap enough to create a “number pool” so that each visitor session could be assigned a unique number. Number pooling would allow keyword level details for call tracking which could add a ton of value both for SEO and PPC purposes. Another downside to CallRail is that as of the time of this writing there is no replacement feature if your phone number happens to be in an image. In the past we’ve modified the roll-your-own method to replace images, so we do understand why as of now this isn’t exactly scalable.

Century Interactive is a relatively unknown call tracking provider with a refreshing take on pricing and features. Agency pricing is (not starts at) $25 per month per website and 8 cents per minute. This price includes a pool “big enough” to assign a unique phone number to each of your website visits. They’ve got a super cool feature that shows you the user path visually by displaying thumbnails of the pages a user visited and where approximately a phone call was placed in that sequence. Their sales staff is super help and friendly and simplicity of the pricing makes it easy to explain to clients.

The main advantage of Century Interactive vs Call Rail is that we can get keyword level tracking data for our campaigns. In addition, by staying on the line after a caller hangs up, our clients can “tag” their phone calls as leads, sales, spam, etc. This provides some excellent information for calculating ROI from phone calls. The problem is Century Interactive’s biggest advantage over CallRail also is a major point of dissatisfaction for us not the reporting side. While CI captures ton of useful information, the reports you can run are very limited and mostly canned. We’ve thought of several reports that we’d like to run that simply were not available via the CI reporting interface.

Other downsides to CI include a clumsy and hard to use interface, and the lack of “local SEO friendliness”. While CI also uses Javascript to retrieve and print the tracking number to your webpage, their code does not utilize number replacement meaning your “real” number goes away entirely. This also means you have to track every phone call from your website not just those from certain sources or campaigns.

Ultimately as I mentioned previously both solutions offer some very interesting features but the technology still leaves something to be desired. As user behavior evolves and Click-To-Call technology becomes more of not only an accepted practice, but an expected practice, call tracking will ultimately change and become even more useful than it is today.