How to use Google Tag Manager to track calls

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Who is on your website and what are they doing there? What kinds of web traffic are you driving?

If you’re a marketer, these are burning questions you probably ask yourself frequently. You’ve probably already gone to great lengths to figure out how to monitor this activity. There are a variety of ways you can go about this, most of which probably include late nights and long hours with your web developer implementing endless code on your site in hopes that the ROI was worth it.

Isn’t there an easier way?

Meet Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics. These two free tools will let you keep tabs on all of your site activity and ultimately help answer the questions about your web presence that you spend countless time pondering.


Google Tag Manager in a nutshell

Google Tag Manager is a place for all of the marketing tags you wish to deploy on your website– these help tell the story of what goes on when someone visits your page. Tag Manager keeps your tags (or snippets of JavaScript code) in one central location so when you are ready to fire them on your site, you can do so in an orderly fashion.

Prior to GTM, the solution would have been hiring a developer to custom code your entire site with the JavaScript snippets it required. This also meant that you’d have thousands of lines of code loading at the same time after the developer’s work was done, and this could have drastically affected site load times.

With GTM, your numerous tags no longer need to be implemented one by one or swapped out by a developer based on changes in what you need your site to do. You decide when, if, and how your tags fire at all.

In GTM, your tags live in what’s called a container. This is essentially a catch-all for the various tags you plan on using on a specific site. The tags in your container need to be told what to do, how to do it, and when to do so. This is where triggers and variables come into play. A trigger is the action that sets the tag in motion. A variable is like a table of contents for you to choose from when deciding what your tag will do and what events will trigger it.


Google Analytics & Tag Manager

You can use Google Tag Manager to set up a tag that fires a Google Analytics code across your site as well. Google Analytics is a service that allows you to monitor site traffic and activity for any site you manage. It will easily answer any big questions you have about what’s happening on your site. Given the importance of this information, Analytics is a pretty big deal when it comes to determining what visitors to your site are paying attention to.

Within Analytics, you can configure specific goals and events that you wish to keep track of that are happening on your site. Put simply, an event is when someone interacts with your page. This can be something as basic as landing on your page and viewing it. Events can also be more in depth, like someone clicking on a link or performing some action you want to keep track of. A goal is a kind of measuring stick for the frequency with which visitors are taking actions on your site. The bottom line is that there are plenty of things you probably want to know about the visitors to your page. The next question is, what should you do next to find out?

Installing a Google Analytics tag to your site via Google Tag Manager would be a great first step to take. The great news is that because Analytics and Tag Manager are part of the Google Suite, the process of implementing this tag is made easy given the connected nature of all of your Google Accounts. There is a pre-configured Google Analytics tag option that you can choose when starting this process.

  1. Upon selecting this, you’ll be presented with the default option to track Page View.
  2. Below this you’ll connect your corresponding Google Analytics account in the Settings Variable drop down menu.
  3. Lastly, you’ll want to set the tag to trigger on all pages of your site. That way, you can keep track of every page view across your entire page.
    Head back to the Default Workspace view and you’ll be ready to Publish your changes.
  4. After publishing any changes in GTM, you can opt to turn on Preview mode, which allows you to see the tags you’ve created firing in real time. Simply click Preview in GTM and then navigate to your page. Next, grab some popcorn and watch your tags start to fire away.

With Analytics now installed on your site, you’re set up to monitor your visitors’ activity. Now, in order to paint the bigger picture of what is happening on your site (outside of just who visits), you’ll need to set up some additional tags. These tags will ultimately represent what your visitors end up doing when they arrive. You can then send the data of these events to Google Analytics.

So, what types of actions might one want to monitor on their site?

A somewhat obvious choice might be clicks to a page’s links. There are probably several components on your site that you wish to monitor the activity of, but a link click event could be among the most helpful–but let’s get more specific. Chances are, in addition to all of your site’s offerings and clickable hyperlinks, there is one piece of the pie as a marketer and/or small business that you are especially interested in: your phone number. Of all of the different elements of your web presence that you may want to keep up with, the question of “Who is calling you?” inevitably ranks pretty high on the list. It’s a common misconception that businesses aren’t called very often anymore in this digital age that we live in. Emails and form submissions certainly hold value but there’s nothing like a one-to-one interaction with another human being. This is where call tracking comes into play. This is a vital need for a thriving business who wants to keep up with who their customers are and what they’re looking for. So how can you track this with GTM & Google Analytics?


Create an Analytics Phone Call Goal

There are two very simple actions you can take in order to start keeping track of what makes your phone ring.

The first of these actions is to create a Phone Call goal in Google Analytics. You probably already have your business number displayed throughout your website. Keeping track of who is contacting your business is an extremely important factor in customer acquisition. With a Google Analytics Phone Call goal, you can start to measure how much traction and activity this phone number on your site is actually contributing to.

If you are managing a call tracking snippet (such as CallRail’s) in Tag Manager, you can start tracking the calls made to your tracking numbers by your site’s visitors. You can then send this call activity to your Google Analytics Phone Call goal. This will ultimately help you understand how your numbers are performing on your site so you can better decide where to focus your attention as it pertains to your page’s activity.

To set up this goal in Analytics, start by:

  1. Navigating to the Admin page.
  2. Click on the gear icon in the bottom left portion of the screen and select Goals from the View section of the page that follows.
  3. Next, click the New Goal button to open up the builder.
  4. The first section of the New Goal modal is titled Goal Setup. This is where you select from pre-baked templates or go the custom route. For the purposes we are discussing, you’ll want to select a custom goal.
  5. The next section is titled Goal Description. This is where you’ll give your goal a name that will later display in the Events section of your Analytics dashboard.
  6. For tracking phone calls, simply name this goal Phone Call.
  7. In the Goal Description section, you’ll also select the type of goal you are setting up. In this case, that goal will be an event (as we discussed previously).
  8. The New Goal modal will also take you to the Goal Details section. This is where you set the conditions for your goal and the subsequent event. All you’ll need to do here is type Phone in the category field and you’ll be all set!
  9. Click Save at the bottom and you’ve got yourself a goal to capture the phone calls made to the numbers on your website.

Set up a phone click tag

The second action you can take to keep track of phone traffic from your site is to set up a tag in GTM that tracks when someone clicks on your displayed phone number. This could prove to be super helpful in parsing together information, like who’s on your site, who’s clicking on your phone number, when are they doing these things, and what page they’re accessing it from.

To start with this process we’ll actually begin in what may seem like a reverse order, by selecting from Built-In Variables in your Google Tag Manager Workspace.

  1. First, click and open the Variables view in Tag Manager.
  2. From here, select Configure in the top right of the Built-In Variables table.
  3. Next, check every box under the Pages and Clicks section in the right sidebar menu that appears.
  4. Select New from the Trigger menu to open the right sidebar menu. Then, give your Trigger a name and select the Just Links option under the Click section.
  5. The next step will be to check the Wait For Tags and Check Validation boxes.
  6. Then, in the fields and drop down menus at the bottom of the trigger configuration screen, select Page URL > matches RegEx (short for Regular Expression) > and type the * symbol.
  7. Below this in the final set of trigger settings, select Click URL > contains > and type tel:.
  8. Save your changes at the top and then it’s time to create your tag.

Open the Tags view and once again, click the New button to create a new tag.

  1. As always, name the tag what you’d like and then select the Google Analytics type.
  2. Next, you’ll select Event under the Track Type drop down menu.
  3. Under the Category, Action and Label fields, you can name these however you’d like them to appear in Google Analytics so that they’re easily identified once your tag begins firing and folks start clicking away on your numbers. For example, the Category could be something like Contact, the action could be Number Click and your label could be your Page URL (which you can select as a built-in variable from the + button attached to this field).
  4. You’ll then select the Analytics account you wish for this tag to send data to once it fires on your site.
  5. Finally, select the Trigger you previously created, save your work and voila! Your tag is ready to launch on your site.

As always, publish your changes once more in Tag Manager so that these new tags can start working their magic and giving you the data you are itching to know. Give it a few days and before you know it, your Analytics account should start to fill up with data coming in to your newly created goals and events.


There is plenty to know and discover about the activity your web page is receiving – and you should definitely know what’s going on. Several more goals and events can be created and tracked in Analytics as well as new tags in Tag Manager. Now though, you at least have the basics down for connecting these two extremely useful tools in order to start paying closer attention to who is visiting your site and what they’re doing.


The post How to use Google Tag Manager to track calls appeared first on CallRail.