Most marketers know the importance of attribution. It’s how you show that your marketing efforts are generating ROI, and of course, it’s how you get credit for all of your work. How else are you going to justify that raise you’ve been hinting about, right? But while you are likely highly skilled at getting digital attribution; whether it’s multi-touch, first touch or last touch, like many marketers you’re probably missing out on attribution for phone calls.

Why Marketers Need Attribution for Phone Calls

Sales that happen on the phone are the call center and sales team’s territory, right? While they certainly make sales happen once a customer calls, your marketing team (and budget) most likely helped make that call happen in the first place. That means you should be sharing credit for conversion with the team that picks up the phone.

This is especially true for considered purchase businesses like financial services, insurance, healthcare, and others where customers frequently call to make their final decision on a high-dollar purchase. Marketing teams in categories like these spend a lot of time and money getting customers on the phone, but unfortunately, many take something of a “spray and pray” approach to making the calls happen and, at best, get fragmented attribution for the calls they drive.

You may get numbers like the call volume that’s driven by your digital marketing. But just looking at that as a success metric would be like calling clicks on a display ads conversions. It’s doesn’t appropriately attribute spend to sales and gives you no data that you can use to optimize your marketing. So why would you do that with attribution for phone calls?

Long story short: you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—live with incomplete attribution for inbound sales phone calls that are driven by digital marketing. Whether you’re new to call attribution, or you’re just trying to determine the best model for your needs, here are the three primary types of call attribution and how you can use them.

1. Campaign-Level Call Attribution

This is the most basic type of phone call attribution. It links a single campaign to a phone call. You can attribute phone calls to search campaigns, affiliate or agency partners, event collateral, and even offline ads.

This type of attribution makes sense if you only need to see a single campaign or marketing touch that leads to a phone call.


  • Simple setup: Just assign a single tracking number to each campaign. When someone calls that number, you know it came from that campaign.
  • Easy measurements: Since you are only measuring calls from individual campaigns, it’s easy to attribute the calls.


  • Limited customer view: You can’t see the entire customer journey, like if the caller also visited your website or social media properties.
  • Scalability: If you’re running hundreds of campaigns, attributing calls this way gets messy fast.
  • Lacks data granularity: You do not have any visibility into keywords, geographic or demographic data, or other browsing activity.

2. Session-Level Call Attribution

With session-level attribution, you can see all the touchpoints within a single user session that led to a phone call. For example, session-level attribution can link a phone call to the paid search keyword, campaign, landing page, and subsequent browsing activity. This way you know exactly how your web visitors are interacting with your advertising and website and how those things influence call behavior. This real-time information can also help your sales reps when answering the phone, giving them valuable background on the caller and their context.


  • Granular data: You have access to granular attribution data down to the keyword
  • Customer activity: You can see exactly how a customer interacts with your campaigns and website before making a call.
  • Customization: You can customize the parameters you want to capture and you can even customize the caller experience based on those parameters.
  • Scalability: Easily scalable with dynamic number insertion (a unique tracking phone number is automatically displayed for each visitor)


  • Limited customer view: Customer engagement outside the session is not captured.

3. Visitor-Level Attribution

This is the most comprehensive model and tracks a visitor throughout their entire engagement with your brand. This type of attribution gives you complete visibility so you can see exactly how a phone call fits into the entire customer journey.

This advanced level of attribution not only accounts for all customer touchpoints, it also empowers you to apply the insights to your remarketing and nurture strategies so you are sure to deliver the right message at the right time.


  • Customer view: See the entire context of the customer journey and how each touchpoint, including the phone call, influenced the sale.
  • Engagement history: If you have a longer sales cycle, this option is great because it provides engagement history before and after the call regardless of the time frame.


  • Integration – This type of attribution is best for sophisticated marketing teams who already use other types of marketing automation, CRM, or data management solutions. This level of attribution requires that you integrate your call tracking and analytics platfom with your other marketing systems to get the full picture of the customer journey.

Now that you know the pros and cons of these phone call attribution models, you can make a smarter decision about what type of attribution your business needs.