For many small business owners, nothing beats getting a prospect on the phone. And luckily, a new service from Google will let you track how well your search advertising gets your phone ringing.
AdWords Call Metrics, being rolled out gradually, lets advertisers measure the number of phone calls generated by individual AdWords campaigns, as long as they use the AdWords phone extension.
The four AdWords extensions provide additional features within search ads and the phone extension generates a unique phone number for each campaign. That number is automatically inserted into your search ads that appear on Google and on smartphones. The other extensions show location, product images, and additional page links.
Janet Driscoll Miller, CEO of Search Mojo, a company that optimizes search engine marketing and pay-per-click advertising, points out that the phone extension itself is a boon to many marketers, because often, people searching for a local business don't want to click around your website.
"If they want a pizza, really what they need is my phone number," she says. Showing a phone number right in the text ad itself streamlines the process for potential customers.
The addition of Call Metrics will help you understand and improve those search campaigns that make use of the phone extension. Reports show not only the number of calls you received, but how long the call lasted. Call duration can help you understand whether your search ads are bringing in the right people, says Allan Kuenn, founder of Site Pro Specialties, a company that facilitates online ad campaigns for businesses.
"The number of calls can be a little misleading," Kuenn says. "If you get a call duration of 15 seconds, that means the person called and realized they didn't want to talk to somebody and hung up. On the other hand, for one of my clients' campaigns, the average duration is 6:25 minutes. That tells me that the people calling them are very engaged and interested in their product."
In addition to providing conversion information, Call Metrics can also help you understand what time of day is most effective for your sales team, Driscoll Miller says. If calls last longer in the morning, that's your sweet spot.
The reports can alert you to missed opportunities, too. For example, if your AdWords campaigns generate a significant number of calls in the evening when your sales team is gone, it might be worthwhile to hire a call center.
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The potential opportunities are clear for companies whose customers are often in a big hurry, Kuenn says: carpet cleaners, plumbers, other kinds of emergency repairs. But the phone extension combined with call metrics could be valuable to other kinds of businesses.
"If you sell a complicated product where someone doesn't feel they can pick it out from a catalog on your website, that's a great option," he says. Advertisers such as universities and other organizations, as well as professional services groups such as attorneys, where the customer typically wants to talk to a live person, are other examples.
Another benefit, according to Driscoll Miller, is that because not many companies are using the AdWords phone extension right now, the extra and unique information helps your ad stand out from the others on the page.
The Phone Number Dilemma
One potential issue with the phone extension and Call Metrics is that the ad will not show your company phone number. If your customer base is usually one-shot, this probably doesn’t matter. But if they're likely to call and then save the number into their mobile phones, they may not be able to reach you again, because the Google-generated number will not work if your campaign ended.
"Some of our clients advertise their phone numbers a lot and want to keep doing that," Kuenn says. For example, someone may look up a restaurant on their phone, call to make a reservation, and save the number. "People don't know that that's not the actual business number."
The bottom line: You have to decide whether it's more important to have your own phone number displayed consistently, or to know what keywords and campaigns are sending you traffic.
If you're using more than one extension, Google will cycle between them when it displays your ad, Kuenn says. So make sure you're only using extensions that work for your business. Then, see whether some combination, such as the phone and product image extensions, performs better than either alone.
Finally, consider taking the time to analyze which keywords are inciting people to call.
"A lot of small business owners don't make their AdWords campaigns granular enough," Kuenn adds. "If you like Call Metrics, but want to know which keywords are driving traffic, break up campaigns into smaller ones."
Image credit: Trace Meek