Tracking phone calls as Google Analytics events is nothing new. However, before Google Tag Manager (GTM), the task required code placed on every phone number link on your site.


Google Tag Manager makes call tracking easy, even for non-coders like you and me!

In order to complete this walk-through tutorial, you’ll need a few things already in place. Your Google Tag Manager container code must already be installed on your website, and you’ll need to have some sort of text or button telephone link on your site (href="tel:1-800-731-2265").

This walkthrough will show you how to track ALL calls made on your website and see reporting in Google Analytics regarding which links were clicked and on which pages.

Step One: Configure your variables.

When you first log in to GTM, you’ll only have a handful of built-in variables to choose from. For this task, we will need to configure the Click URL and Click Text variables. (Don’t worry, it’s much easier than it sounds.)

Simply select Variables in the left navigation column and click the top, red CONFIGURE button.

 Google Tag Manager Dashboard

A menu of built-in variables will slide out, and you simply check the boxes next to any variable you wish to configure. For this exercise, you will need to check the boxes for Click URL and Click Text under the Clicks section.


Configure GTM Variables 

Done. Simple, right? Close the Configure Built-In Variables window, and head over to Triggers in the left navigation menu column.


Step Two: Create your trigger.

Click the NEW button and name your trigger. Pick a name that will make sense, such as clickCall.

Click the white box to configure your trigger type. Once again, a menu slides out from the right. Select Just Links under the Click section.

Leave the Wait for Tags and Check Validation boxes unchecked.

Change the toggle for This trigger fires on “All Link Clicks” to “Some Link Clicks.” This will bring up the fields that must ALL be true in order for the trigger to fire.

Make your condition Click URL contains “tel:” and hit save.

 Configure GTM Trigger


Step Three: Create your tag.

Click the NEW button under Tags and name it. I always start the name with the tag type and action to help keep things organized. Since this will be a Google Analytics tag and we’re recording a click, we’ll name it “GA - Click - All Calls.”

Select your Google Analytics type - Universal Analytics.


Create GTM Tag 


Note: If you are still using Classic Google Analytics, I strongly recommend upgrading to Universal when you migrate your GA to GTM.

Change Track Type from Page View to Event. This prompts you for your Event Tracking Parameters, or what you'll see reported in GA under Events reporting.

For Category, we want something high-level so we'll use "Calls."

For Action, we’ll want to get more granular data so we’ll take advantage of the Click Text variable. Type “Call – “, click the little building block icon, and select Click Text. This should make your Action: “Call –{{Click Text}}”. (I always add a space directly before “{{“.)

The variable dynamically inserts the Click Text of the button or link in your GA reporting, so if your button says Call Now, your reporting will report Call - Call Now. If your button says CALL 1-800-731-2265, your reporting will show Call - CALL 1-800-731-2265

For Label, we’ll do the same as Action but use “Call – {{Page Path}}.” This will dynamically insert the page path for the page in which the call took place.

Keep Non-Interaction Hit set as False, and select your Google Analytics Settings variable. This is a one-time task. Simply put your Tracking ID in the Tracking ID field (UA-XXXXXX-XX), and name it something like “mySite” or your website name.

Now click on the bottom white box to choose your trigger. Select “clickCall” from the list and save your trigger.

Configure GTM Tag 


Step Four: Use Preview tool to confirm your tag works properly.

Click the PREVIEW button located in the top-right corner next to the blue SUBMIT button. This will refresh your browser and display an orange warning box stating, “Now Previewing Workspace.”

Note: The link to leave preview mode is located just below this box.

Now, when you visit your website, you’ll notice a large Google Tag Manager box at the bottom of the browser window.

Click on a phone number text link or call button. (You may need to adjust your browser width to mimic the size of a phone to enable the call functionality.)

When you click the text/button, a new event should appear in the Summary section on the left called gtm.linkClick. Click it and you should see your tag, GA – Click – All Calls, under the Tags Fired On This Event section.

 GTM Preview Tool - Tag Fired

If you see it under the Tags Not Fired On This Event section, click the box. It will show a red “X” next to any triggers that didn’t fire and a green check mark next to any triggers that did. This will help you troubleshoot if something goes wrong.

Step Five: Publish your new version.

If everything fires properly while in Preview mode, head back to GTM and hit the SUBMIT button. Give your version a name, like “Version 1: Call Tracking” and add your detailed description of your changes.

Hit the PUBLISH button, and your new tag is live!


Note: If you’ve not left Preview mode, now would be a good time to do so.


Step Six: Reporting calls in Google Analytics.

It will take a couple of hours for any reporting to start populating in Google Analytics, but you can view Events in GA’s Real-Time reporting. Give your new tag a test by clicking from your mobile device and testing if you see your call reported.

Once some time has passed, you can view Events reporting under the Behavior section. The default Primary Dimension is Event Category, but you can click “Calls” to drill down and see Event Actions (click text). You can drill down again to see Event Labels (pages you are receiving calls).

So, if someone clicks to call you from your contact page (/contact), and the button said “CALL TODAY,” then your Google Analytics event reporting (Behavior > Events > Top Events), you would see the Category of Calls, Action of Call – CALL TODAY, and a Label of Call - /contact-us.

One of the best ways to get comfortable with GTM is simply navigating your website using the Preview tool and picking unique variable combinations to track. It is easy to be extremely intimidated when first using GTM, but it’s actually quite simple once you get a handle on the basics.

Good luck and happy learning! 

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