Got a phone number in your PPC ad? Ever wondered if your PPC advertising is generating more sales than you think? While we haven’t yet reached the Holy Grail of being able to track every offline sale that originated from a search or display ad, two recent innovations from Google get us a bit closer.
Google introduced Click-to-Call  for mobile devices in January of 2010. This enables a user with a high-end mobile device to easily call the business directly from the ad, instead of having to write down the phone number, navigate back out to their phone’s browser app, and then dial the number. Talk about reducing friction!
For businesses that rely on phone calls to drive their sales, this can be game-changing. Brick-and-mortar locations have been devalued in recent years, but an offering like this can help to close the loop. Prime candidates would be a restaurant a person might want to call directly to order or make a reservation, or even apartment complexes a user might be traveling past to call and get more information.
(Image from Google – Inside AdWords Blog)
Many businesses have already opted into this feature. If you have location extensions or older local business ads enabled in your account, and are opted in to show on high-end mobile devices, a phone number will show at the bottom of the ad that the user can click to call directly from the ad. If you are not using location extensions, you can add a phone number to the campaign using phone extensions. The call costs the same as a click, and those phone calls are visible in the Google UI in a click type report.
However, detailed information on those calls is not visible, unless you’re using AdWords Call Metrics.
AdWords Call Metrics
Google updated Click-to-Call recently with AdWords Call Metrics , an add-on which substitutes your business phone number with a Google Voice 800 number in the ad. By routing through a Voice number, Google allows you to see additional data such as number of call pickups and the total and average duration of calls. This also shows a Google Voice number on desktop computers and tracks calls from those ads that were not track-able with Click-to-Call.
(Image from Google – Inside AdWords Blog)
For the time being, Call Metrics is free. For marketers that can assign a dollar value associated to incoming calls, this can be an inexpensive way to track how Google users are paying off.
We are currently testing out both Click-to-Call and AdWords Call Metrics for several clients. For one client that already had a call tracking system in place, this additional reporting allowed us to see that there were more calls coming from PPC ads, and this lowered the cost-per-call account-wide. For another client whose site is not optimized for mobile content, we introduced a phone number into the ads on mobile devices to see if we could boost the ROI coming from mobile devices, as well as drive more calls to their call center.
So far the results look positive.
· Neither Click-to-Call or AdWords Call Metrics have a way of reporting on conversions or ROI.
· AdWords Call Metrics can only be enabled at the campaign level. For larger businesses with multiple locations where the account might be structured regionally, Call Metrics won’t work if they are driving to more than one location within the same campaign.
· Call Metrics shows a unique phone number that won’t be shown on the landing page if the user clicks through to the ad, so there’s the possibility of a disconnect there.
· Call Metrics is currently only showing number of calls and the duration of calls – hopefully soon there will be more data available.
· Although Call Metrics is currently free, Google has said that there will be a cost associated with this feature in the future.
Click-to-Call and Call Metrics are just two of the many new products and services the search engines are rolling out as the advertising landscape matures and competition for your ad dollar increases. Although not perfect, these allow you to gain more insight into how your campaigns are performing and help you make informed decisions about where to allocate your marketing spend.
If phone calls are an important part of your business, they’re definitely worth looking into.
- Google +1 for PPC  - June 29, 2011
- SMX Advanced 2011- QS = CTR? Plumbing the Depths – Or Lack Thereof – of Quality Score  - June 16, 2011
- Do You Know Where Your Cookie Is?  - April 28, 2011
- Mobile Advertising – Click-to-Call and AdWords Call Metrics  - January 10, 2011