Here at Impression we’re proud to work with a diverse range of clients with varied online goals and target audiences. Doing so helps us to become more rounded when developing strategies due to the wealth of experience with different clients we have in the team. Sometimes, however, lead generation focussed clients with a low conversion volume can present a challenge, as attributing value to specific strategies or campaigns can be very difficult when data density is lacking.

Typically, these types of business will want to track the submission of an online contact form as their primary KPI. This is all well and good, but it is likely that many businesses will receive incoming leads from more sources than just the contact form. For example, the below screenshot shows a landing page from one of our clients. The main conversion goal of course is the ‘Book a Viewing’ form in the banner at the bottom of the page. Alongside this form, however, are two links which allow you to directly call or email the business when clicked. These types of link are called mailto and tel links and they are present on a wide variety of websites.

When lead generation is the primary goal of a business’ website, and these types of link are present, tracking their clicks is a great way to increase conversion data density in order to improve strategic decision making. There are three main steps to tracking these clicks as conversions within Google Ads, and to do so you will need admin/edit access to the business’ Google Ads, Analytics, and Tag Manager accounts. 

Step 1: Set up event tags in Google Tag Manager

The first step to tracking mailto and tel link clicks is to set up an event tag to fire on site when these links are clicked on. This is relatively simple to do using Google Tag Manager, so if this is not implemented across the site you want to set up tracking for, use this guide to do so before proceeding any further. Once Tag Manager is set up, you’ll want to ensure that you have a standard Pageview tag as well, which can be done by using this guide.

When the above is done, click on the Variables tab of Tag Manager and click ‘Configure’ in the Built-in Variables section. Scroll down to the Clicks subsection and tick the box for ‘Click URL’ as in the screenshot below.

Following this, you’ll be able to set up a trigger based on the URL of links which are clicked on a page. As neither mailto: nor tel: links lead to another page on site but instead direct users to their email or phone applications, it is necessary to track clicks to these with Click URL rather than destination URL.

Go to the Triggers tab of Tag Manager and create a new trigger. When prompted to choose a trigger type, select ‘Click – Just Links’ and configure the tag as shown below, making sure that the trigger fires on ‘some link clicks’ when the click URL contains ‘mailto:’ for a mailto link or ‘tel:’ for a tel link. 

From here, you need to create an event tag which sets an event category and action to pass to Google Analytics. Go to the Tags tab and create a new tag, and set the tag type to Google Analytics: Universal Analytics. You’ll now need to set a category and action for the event, but for the purposes of tracking mailto and tel link clicks this doesn’t have to be anything specific. You can set these fields to whatever you want, so long as you make a note of them for the next step. See below for an example.

Having done all of the above, publish your changes to the Tag Manager container, and then check that everything is working using Preview Mode. To do this, turn Preview Mode on and go to the website you’re setting up tracking for. After clicking on a mailto or tel link, you should see your tag fire in the bar at the bottom of the page (see below), indicating that Analytics will now receive the event data which you set up in your tag. Once you’ve tested this, head over to the Google Analytics view for this business for the next step.

Step 2: Create a Conversion Goal in Google Analytics

Having taken care of the more complicated elements in Tag Manager, the next step is to create a goal for when the event tag fires within Google Analytics. Go to the admin section of the appropriate Analytics view by clicking the gear icon in the bottom left corner of the screen, then click into the Goals section.

Once there, create a new goal and select the option to create a custom goal. Give the goal an appropriate name, and then set the goal type to ‘Event’. You’ll then be shown the goal details screen, at which point you need to enter the same event category and action as you set in the event tag in Tag Manager – see the below example which uses the same values as the example from Tag Manager above.

Save your goal, and head to the Real-time > Conversions section of Analytics to test whether the goal is tracking correctly. A few minutes after saving the goal, enter a new session on the website which you’re setting up the tracking for and click the mailto or tel link which the goal refers to. After a short delay you should see this conversion fire in Google Analytics, as below.

As long as this tracks correctly, you’re ready to import this goal to Google Ads. If the site you’re working on has both mailto and tel links, be sure to repeat steps 1 and 2 to set up tracking for both!

Step 3: Import and Configure Goals in Google Ads

Having correctly set up all appropriate link click goals in Tag Manager and Analytics, head over to the Google Ads account which is linked to the website, and click Tools & Settings > Conversions. Click the blue + sign to add a new conversion, and then select the Import option. From here, select Google Analytics as the source to import the conversions from, and hit continue. You’ll be shown a list of the goals from the Analytics account linked to your Ads account which have not yet been imported. Select all of the goals which you’ve just set up and click import.

From here, all that’s left to do is configure your conversions to suit the needs of your business, such as selecting an appropriate attribution model. Once you’ve done this, your mailto and tel link clicks will start counting as conversion within your Google Ads account alongside the campaigns which led to them.

It is worth mentioning that these conversions will not track whether users gave their contact details to the business over the phone after a tel link click, or whether they actually sent an email after a mailto link click. For this reason, it may be more appropriate to set these goals not to be included in the conversions column of Google Ads, particularly if you’re relying on automated bidding strategies to meet a set CPA for a specific goal for the business. In this instance, you will need to monitor these goals using the ‘all conversions’ column, and consider adjusting budgets and bid strategies accordingly to maximise total conversion volume.

At Impression, we are constantly striving to measure success as accurately as possible for our clients using strategies such as this. As web analytics becomes more complex, doing so becomes increasingly important for successful online marketing strategies. To find out more about how we can help your business with this or any of our other services, get in touch today!

Luke Northbrooke

Paid Media Strategist

Luke is a Paid Media Strategist at Impression. Good at PPC. Not good at funny personal summaries.

Luke has specialist knowledge in PPC and Paid Media.