Before setting up this ‘call tracking’ please bear in mind, GTM can’t detect if someone actually calls the phone number only if they click on the tel link AND this tracking also doesn’t differentiate which devices are clicking the tel link, which may produce some false positives for “call conversions.”


Here’s how to set it up:


Add a code to the website you’re working on:

  • In Tag Manager, at the top right of the ‘workplace’ click the “GTM-xxxxxxx” code
  • It opens a window with coding to add to the website.
  • add the codes to Header AND Body – it tells you which one goes where.

Tip: You can use a WP plugin such as “headers and footers” to place the code.


Create a Google Analytics Settings Variable:

“The Google Analytics Settings variable is used in Universal Analytics tags for web and mobile (Firebase) containers to centrally configure and share common Google Analytics settings across multiple tags.” – Google.

  • In GTM go to variables
  • Scroll down to ‘user defined’
  • Add new
  • Variable type > Utilities > Google Analytics settings
  • Insert tracking id
  • Cookie domain: auto
  • Save and close.


Setting up Call Tracking in Google Tag Manager:

  • Open GTM in the account you want to set up tracking in
  • Go to workspace
  • Go to variables > built-in variables > configure > tick all clicks > close
  • Go to Triggers
  • Add “New” trigger > rename it > trigger configuration = just links > save
  • In the top right corner click & open “preview” mode (opens a debug view of the website & a tab called “tag assistant”)
  • On the debug site click the tel: link that you want to track
  • Go to the tag assistant tab in your browser
  • Find “link click” on the left-hand summary section, click on that.
    ➔ This will only appear if you have turned on click variables and set up a click trigger
  • Look at the variables of that “link click”
  • Scroll down to “click URL” and copy the URL string – eg. tel:[phone number]
  • Go back to GTM workspace
  • Go to Triggers, find the “just links” trigger you set up previously
  • Open the trigger – change “this trigger fires on” to “some link clicks”
  • Then put in “click URL” > “contains” > [paste the click URL you copied]
    ➔ You can use just “tel:” to track all tel links on the site
    ➔ or “tel:[phone number]” to track a specific phone number – you will have to repeat these steps to track multiple
  • Save and close
  • Go to Tags > New > rename it > tag type: universal analytics
  • Track type: Event
    ➔ Category: “click”
    ➔ Action: “phone number”
    ➔ Label: click the + box and find “page path”
  • Google Analytics settings: {{Google Analytics settings}} – you set up earlier
  • Triggering: add the link trigger you set up previously and then save and close.

FYI – if you use a specific number for this, it will only track EXACT matches, so if there are links on the site where the spacing of the phone number is different – those clicks won’t be tracked.


Testing Tags Firing in Google Tag Manager.

  • Click preview again to refresh the debug site and tag assistant
  • On the debug site click the tel: link you want to track
  • Go to Tag Assistant
  • Find “link click” on the left side
  • Look at the tags
  • Under “tags fired” should be the tag you set up earlier
    ➔ if it’s not there check the variables to ensure you’re on the right “link click” event.
    ➔ If you are, then you’ve set something up wrong as the tag isn’t firing, revisit the above steps
  • You should also check in debug if the tag fires on other link clicks where you don’t want it to track.


After Testing, Publish Your Work:

  • On tag manager workspace
  • In the top right corner, click submit
  • ‘publish & create version’
  • add anything you want to put in name & description
  • Publish


Setting up the Event in GA:

  • GA > admin > settings > goals
  • Add New Goal
  • Custom goal
  • Name it
  • Type = event
  • Event conditions = the same as what you put on the Tag in GTM:
    ➔ Category: “click”
    ➔ Action: phone number
    ➔ Label: {{Page Path}}

Note: It should appear in GA > Behaviours > Events >Overview.

Reminder: GTM can’t detect if someone actually calls the phone number only if they click on the tel link.


Interpreting The Data

As mentioned above, you can now track the total number of clicks under events.

  • Behaviours > Events > Overview.

This tracking also allows you to see which type of traffic is generating the most calls/leads. You can see this by going to Google Analytics:

  • Aquisition > Channels > secondary dimension [event catagory/label/action] OR Aquisition > Sources/mediums > secondary dimension [event ——-]

Furthermore, you to see which pages consumers are calling you from. You can see this by going to Google Analytics:

  • Behaviour > Pages > secondary dimension [event category/label/action


FYI: Google analytics automatically tracks some “tel:” events, so be sure to look for the one you named!

Here’s a video on how to set up the Tag (01:50 – 09:30)

Here’s a video on how to set up Tag Manager if it isn’t already (0:00 – 19:40)

All of these steps would mostly be the same for other link tracking too, eg. mail: links, in case you wanted to look into tracking other links/clicks in the future.


TIP: If you want to make this event easier to identify you can change the event action to something like “call tracking” and the event category to something such as “tel click” but make sure you change it in the Tag Manager tag and Google Analytics goal.


If you need help setting up your conversion goals, tracking analytics and more contact us for help with your SEO and Marketing.

Alice Baker, Digital Marketing Executive, Sierra Six Media.