From A to Z: Your Call Attribution Glossary

Katherine Buchholz Product Marketing Manager, DialogTech

Call attribution technology is like an onion. It has many layers. Some are more complex than others, which can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve pulled together this breakdown.

Here it is, from A to Z. This is what call attribution and conversion is all about.


I know, attribution is in “call attribution,” but it’s worth calling out. Successful marketers thrive off of attribution – but it has to be good attribution. It has to be accurate. Connecting conversions to marketing is a top priority for marketers (84% said so), but few believe they are doing it well.

When you don’t have strong attribution you can end up wasting budget and investing in campaigns that don’t work. Or you could underestimate how well a given campaign performs, especially when you ignore call conversions. Take this paid search example:

call attribution

The rise of smartphones, larger mobile ad spend, and the increased use of click-to-call by consumers is creating a blind spot for marketers who need to show the full attribution picture of their efforts.

Block Spam Calls

Does your business receive a lot of spam calls? If you’ve ever received a fake political call, been tempted by a cruise line sweepstakes, or heard the dreaded fax machine noise, you understand how frustrating spam calls can be.

They can also ruin your attribution data. Call attribution technology helps prevent unwanted spam calls from corrupting your call attribution data and reaching your business. That way marketers can ensure call data is accurate and invest confidently in marketing programs that drive customer calls.

Quick SpamSentry™ call out: It’s unique and is the only solution in the call tracking industry to use adaptive, machine-learning technology. It’s a critical feature that can self-identify variants of spam it’s been trained to recognize and immediately prevent the calls from reaching a business’ call center, office, and other locations.


Conversation obviously makes sense when talking about phone calls. But let’s emphasize just how important conversations are. Your customers want to call (52% during research and 62% during purchase, according to Google), and when they do they convert. According to analyst firm BIA/Kelsey:

  • Calls from mobile marketing are predicted to increase 113% between 2014 and 2019.
  • Calls convert to revenue 10x-15x more than web leads.
  • Calls influenced $1 trillion in consumer spending in 2016.

call attribution

Conversation is natural for consumers. We see that reflected in innovations such as virtual assistants and voice search. Amazon and Google are even working on turning their automated assistants, the Echo and Google Home, into home phones with the addition of voice-calling features. Voice is the newest marketing channel.

Dynamic Number Insertion

Dynamic number insertion (DNI) is the bread and butter of session-level call attribution. It’s a marketing analytics technology that enables businesses to get attribution for the phone calls generated from their digital advertising and websites.

DNI technology works by placing a piece of JavaScript code on your website. It captures a wealth of data, including:

  • The marketing source that drove the website visit
  • The caller’s path through your website
  • Caller data
  • What happened on the call
  • The value of the call

Easy Implementation

I wouldn’t be surprised if you said you’ve thought about using call attribution technology, but were intimidated. Or maybe you thought you had to work with the IT department to implement, complicating the process. It doesn’t have to be hard.

With call attribution using asynchronous JavaScript, it can be implemented throughout your website using common tag management software such as Google Tag Manager, Tealium, and Signal. No IT required.


If you’re a franchisor, or a business with a centralized marketing and distributed sales (CMDS) structure, you know how challenging it is to get intelligence (or even just credit) for the leads you send franchisees and individual locations. And for most franchisees, a phone lead is the best lead. But calls are also the toughest leads for marketers to track.

It’s especially tough for franchisors and CMDS businesses, considering the distributed nature of their locations and independent operations. Even though these locations often contribute to a national marketing fund, proving it’s the national dollars driving calls can be challenging.

Many franchisors, such as Sylvan Learning Center, use call attribution to track these calls and conversation insight technology to understand what was actually said on the calls. Analyzing conversations allows you to learn if any keywords are spoken, if agents are mentioning the right promotions, or even the specific reason why someone is calling.


Smartphones and mobile marketing are set to drive 162 billion calls to US businesses by 2019. That’s not to be under estimated by marketers. Routing these calls to the right location or person is critical to optimizing conversions and sales.

Geo-location technology uses cell phone triangulation to determine the precise geographic location of mobile callers and route their call to your closest store, office, or agent. And then you can get reports about the lead source that drove every call, the location and market of every caller, and even the sales opportunities and revenue generated from each.

Heartbeat Technology

Heartbeat is a technology unique to DialogTech’s SourceTrak solution. DNI relies on pools of phone numbers to attribute calls from digital marketing. As a result, the bigger the pool of numbers you have, the more expensive the service.

Heartbeat technology actively monitors each website session for inactivity and quickly returns phone numbers of inactive sessions to a pool for reuse. This helps marketers get complete attribution with fewer phone numbers at a lower cost.


Data integration is the bread and butter for marketers using call attribution technology. 49% of marketers said better integration of marketing technology would most improve their omni-channel marketing efforts. We see a large majority of our customers integrate their call data into the marketing tools they already use.

call attribution

By integrating this data you get to see your phone calls right next to online clicks. It’s a seamless integration, breaks down data silos, and improves marketing optimizations. It’s a no-brainer if you’re already using CRM, web analytics, bid management, marketing automation, and LiveRamp-connected marketing platforms.


JavaScript is a form of programming language most commonly used to control web page behavior. Call attribution technology uses JavaScript in the dynamic number insertion (DNI) process.

DNI works by placing a piece of JavaScript code on your website. Whenever someone visits your site, the code dynamically replaces the phone number (or phone numbers, for websites with multiple numbers listed) on each page with a unique trackable phone number (or phone numbers) tied to each visitor, how they found you, and their session.

When site visitors call, call attribution technology using JavaScript and DNI captures attribution and caller intelligence, connects it with the caller, makes it available for marketers to view via custom reports, and passes it to your other marketing platforms to leverage.

Keywords Spoken

So you’re optimizing your marketing to drive calls to your business – great! But how do you know what happened on the call? This insight can be incredibly valuable.

Digging deeper into specific phone conversations, and the words that were actually spoken, gives marketers a new data source: keywords. But not everyone has time to listen to recordings or read transcriptions of hundreds – or even thousands – of calls a month.

Conversion Insight Call Tool

With an analysis tool like Conversation Insight it’s easy to search conversations from any marketing source, geographic location, time of day, and more to find every call where the words you care about were spoken. Then you can use the actual words customers say on a call to optimize SEM and SEO strategies.

Landing Page Optimization

Landing page optimization (LPO) falls into the broader category of conversion rate optimization (CRO). The goal of LPO is to optimize specific elements of a given web page to improve your conversion rate. This can range from larger, total-page overhauls to smaller easier-to-test changes like your call-to-action (CTA). A/B testing is a very common tactic in CRO.

61% of marketers currently use or plan to use A/B testing to improve conversion rates.

As you saw in the Attribution section above, failing to account for call conversions from your landing pages (especially mobile landing pages) could mean you’ll miss 50% of your conversions. Here are 4 tips to optimize your mobile landing pages for calls:

  • Ensure your landing pages are optimized for mobile (this should be a given these days).
  • Add click-to-call to every page (make it that much easier for consumers to call you).
  • Test landing pages with no forms, only click-to-call (don’t give them another option).
  • Tailor landing pages for local (personalize it with a click-to-call link with a local phone number).

Optimizely also has a great post that discusses 6 tips to create high-converting mobile landing pages.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed

Many of us have probably experienced machine learning first-hand, but not realized it. Facebook’s News Feed is a prime example of machine learning in action. Whenever a user scrolling through their feed stops to read or engage with friend’s or a brand’s content, machine learning identifies this and their News Feed will show more content from that friend or brand in the future.

In the phone call space, we’ve seen two important use cases for machine learning (so far):

  • Spam call prevention: It can self-identify variants of rapidly-changing spam calls it has been trained to recognize and immediately prevent future calls from reaching a business.
  • Automatic call categorization: It can automatically categorize the disposition (or lead quality or call outcome) of the customer calls your business receives.

Comfort Keepers uses machine learning to understand if their campaigns drive a new customer, new caregiver, or an existing customer or caregiver (their four most important KPIs). This is all done without having to spends hours manually listening to recorded calls.

Number Cleansing Process

Number cleansing is a must-have for businesses with phone numbers. Using clean numbers helps reduce the number of fraudulent calls you receive, because the activity that number receives has been monitored carefully before being released for use.

We recommend each phone number be aged for a minimum of 30 days prior to passing them off to your call attribution provider. Once a number has aged 30 days with us, it enters our database and we continue to actively monitor call activity to the number. Numbers that have been deemed clean will then enter available inventory.

A thorough number cleansing process is invaluable. When you put dirty numbers in your ads and on your website, you can get calls unrelated to your marketing, wasting your sales reps’ time and ruining your call attribution data.


Yes, omni-channel may be a buzzword right now, but it’s an effective description of how much the customer journey has evolved in the 21st century. Take this stat: over 75% of online adults age 18–54 start an activity on one device and then continue or finish it on another.

True omni-channel success means we need to focus on people, not platforms. And marketers must own and control the entire customer journey at every touch point online and offline, including phone calls.

One omni-channel pitfall you want to avoid is not including a phone number everywhere. Mobile marketing will drive over 129 billion calls to US businesses in 2017. You need ensure your phone number is displayed prominently on your website and landing pages, and explore advertising options like click-to-call ads.


Smartphones and click-to-call have redefined pay-per-call marketing. As consumers continue to shift their media habits to mobile, performance marketers are following suit. Mobile offers a new audience that can be used to drive incremental revenue for their pay-per-call campaigns. It’s a no-brainer for performance marketers looking to boost commissions.

But pay-per-call marketers need the right technology. With call attribution, publishers get credit for every lead, advertisers only pay for valid phone leads, and networks can track calls to route them accurately.

Review this ultimate pay-per-call marketing checklist to see if you’re missing anything!

Qualified Phone Leads

When your business receives a large volume of calls it’s important to not waste time on bad calls. We already talked about spam prevention, but there other tools you can use to ensure your employees (whether they are sales reps or support staff) use their time effectively.

Interactive voice response (IVR) phone menus are ideal for qualifying and routing callers, conducting surveys, answering routine questions and assisting callers, and much more.

Check out this post if you’ve ever expressed objections to using an IVR like the top 3 we’ve heard.

Routing Contextually

Using call attribution technology to accurately route calls helps marketers create relevant experiences for callers. It also significantly impacts how the calls convert to revenue.

Set up customizable rules to route callers to the right agent, location, or call center right away – and it can be used with any phone system or device. Route calls:

  • By the marketing source, product, or service
  • By a caller’s physical location
  • By a schedule (office hours, time zones of customers, weekends, holidays, and more)
  • By agent skillset and performance
  • Between multiple call centers or offices
  • Using webhooks for advanced customization

Session-Level Tracking

Whether you choose one-to-one or session-level tracking phone numbers depends on the level of granularity you need in your data, and what marketing channels you’re using. Session-level offers a lot more detail on a specific web visitor’s session on your website.

Session-level tracking allows you to track specific callers across every web page they visited on your site, from the moment they arrive all the way through to the moment they place a call. You will capture robust data on every call, including the caller’s activity on your website, for insights into what content converts visitors to phone leads.


At this point in the post, it’s pretty clear using call attribution technology gives you a lot more data. Data you probably weren’t getting before. And it’s more data you can use in your marketing campaigns to target audiences.

Your level of targeting will vary based on the type of campaign you’re running. Marketers use call data in targeting to:

  • Build custom audiences based on past callers
  • Retarget prospects who have called your brand
  • Exclude current customers from specific ad campaigns
  • Use conversation insight from phone calls
  • Combine web data with call data to tie together online and offline customer journeys

URL Tags

One way marketers track calls with call attribution technology is by using URL tags. Customers who want to track calls from their digital marketing include a specific URL tag in the landing page URL of their ads.

The call attribution URL tag can be set to match the Campaign, Ad Group, or even the Ad. You will get insight on which URL tag generated the call, giving you additional data points in your reporting.

DialogTech’s SourceTrak also offers a unique custom URL tag functionality. If you’re already using URL tags, such as Google’s “gclid” or a bid management tag, DialogTech can dynamically display phone numbers based on any tags you may already use. You don’t have to edit your ads with new URL tags and lose any of the ad’s historical data.

Voice Management Platform (VMP)

Voice is the newest and most promising marketing channel. The power voice has for marketers was mentioned in the Conversation section, everything from voice search to virtual assistants – the opportunities are only growing.

If you haven’t heard of a voice management platform (VMP) before, that’s okay. Think of a VMP like you would a data management platform (DMP). It’s a platform with the call data and technology marketers need to prove and optimize ROI.

Only a VMP, like DialogTech, is comprised of call attribution and conversion technology. This technology helps marketers capitalize on the power of phone calls.

Win Against Your Competitors

What business doesn’t love to see their market share grow? If you rely on calls to provide customers more information or close business, yet you don’t know where those calls come from, you’re already at a disadvantage against your competition.

Call attribution software empowers your business with data you can use to optimize your campaigns and reach consumers more likely to call – before your competition does. It helps you:

  • Understand which ads, campaigns, and keywords searched generate the most calls.
  • Know how a caller interacts with your website before and after a call, which web pages they visited, how long they spent on your site and more.
  • Follow leads through the sales cycle by integrating with CRM systems, so you know exactly which marketing sources drive the most revenue.


Consumers want personalization. And for 56% of marketers, the biggest benefits of personalizing a consumer’s experience were higher response and engagement rates.

A caller’s experience can make or break a sale. This comes down to the way their call is routed and how useful your IVR is to how equipped a live representative is to help them. A number of factors discussed throughout this post support a successful caller experience.

call attribution

Your Customers

With the data you collect using call attribution technology you get a more well-rounded view of customer behavior. After connecting their offline behavior to their online behavior, you can finally understand what their customer journey looks like and how they engage with your brand at every touch point.

Not to mention all the data you get about every caller. Yes, call attribution tells you what marketing source drove the call, but it also gives you detailed information about your callers:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Location
  • Call history
  • Day and time of call
  • Call interaction
  • CRM data

Zero Missed Conversions

Including call conversions with your online conversions means you’re never missing a conversion. Marketers can’t optimize what they can’t track:

call attribution

Here are a few tips to fix the 50% mobile marketing blind spot we talked about in the Attribution section and ensure you have zero missed conversions:

  • Attribution: When marketers start measuring their phone leads, they’re on their way to patching the 49% hole.
  • Personalization: Mobile marketing is all about personalized and relevant ads, content, and experiences. The same holds true for the call experience: offering consumers a personalized, one-to-one call experience can go a long way in helping businesses convert more callers to revenue.
  • Disposition: When leads convert by calling, marketers need the same level of analysis to understand what happens as they do with online activity. What was their digital footprint? What web pages did they visit? What exactly happened on the call?

Hopefully this A to Z guide to call attribution and conversion has been helpful. If you still have more questions, check out The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Call Attribution or learn more in our Resources section.