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Call analytics, or "call tracking" as it's commonly called, is vital to gathering and analyzing marketing data for your business.

Just as Web analytics can give you in-depth information about how customers find you online, call-tracking software offers important information about who your customers are, how they discover your business, and what exactly they're looking for when they decide to give you a call.

Navigating the call-tracking waters can be difficult, especially if you're not sure of what to look for in a provider. You'll want to work with someone rather than have someone work for you: To get the most out of your service, think of your call-tracking provider of choice as a partner rather than a vendor.

Ready to start your search for that perfect partner? Here are four things to keep in mind when browsing call-tracking providers; you can use this as a checklist of criteria to look for when shopping for call-tracking software.

What to Look for in Call-Tracking Services

1. Real-time Data

Gathering data about customers after they've called you is one thing. But what about gathering data about callers as you're on the phone with them? Wouldn't they feel more engaged if you knew specifics about them before they even start talking?

The ability to see calls in real time gives you an incredible edge over your competition. Knowing exactly who your customer is as soon as your phone rings will give you a better chance of a successful sale.

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image of Lance Weatherby

Lance Weatherby is vice-president of marketing for CallRail, an Atlanta-based marketing technology company focused on call analytics.

Twitter: @Lance

LinkedIn: Lance Weatherby