PPC ads are short—a maximum of 140 characters. Using that precious space to include a phone number usually has detrimental effects on an ad’s effectiveness. Rather than using a call to action that promotes the searcher to take action, a phone number is displayed at a point in the buying cycle when consumers might not be ready to engage in conversation.

Most people do not call a company from a search result. In fact, call through rates in the 0.02% range (2 calls for every 10,000 impressions) are typical for most industries.

Think about this—if you received a call from your ad, the customer probably did not click on your ad. And when your ads don’t receive clicks, your quality score drops. When your quality score drops, you need to pay more for your ad to show in the same position.

However, there are times when you should have a phone number in your ad, such as when your ad is displayed on a mobile device or on a local search property. In those instances, customers do call directly from an ad.

There are ways of including your phone number in an ad without taking up your normal ad space and encroaching on your precious marketing message.

Please note: some companies (though by no means all) have found that including a local phone number in an ad has increased their click through rate. Many others have found that it decreases click through rate. So, it can be worthwhile testing a phone number’s effect on clicks and conversions as a part of your normal ad copy.

Including your phone number in local results

When consumers are searching on local properties, such as Google Maps, they expect to find business information listed, such as a phone number. You can include your phone number with these ads without taking away space from your normal ad.

There are two ways to include phone numbers in local ads. The first method is to create a Google Places account (formerly called Google Business Center). Once you create this account, navigate to the campaign settings in your AdWords account. Within the campaign settings, you can link your Google Places account to your AdWords campaign.

If you do not have a Google Places account, or wish to use a phone number temporarily, just manually enter the information and phone number for that location in the campaign settings.

Once you have entered the information for a location, or connected your Google Places account to your AdWords campaign, phone numbers can be displayed alongside your ad.

Including your phone number in mobile ads

There are two types of mobile devices: phones with full browsers (iPhones, Blackberry Storms, Motorola Droid) and phones without full browsers (Blackberry Curve and the majority of non-smart phones). You will use a different method to include your phone number on a mobile device depending on the type of device that is displaying your ad.

Phones with full browsers. A phone with a full internet browser can display your current ads, assuming that you have selected mobile devices in your campaign settings. Therefore, you do not need to create custom ads for these devices. Adding a phone number to your text ads when they are displayed on a mobile device is very simple:

  • Navigate to your campaign settings
  • Under ad extensions, click on the edit link next to “phone extensions”
  • Click the text box and enter your phone number

Once you have done this, when your ads are shown on devices with full internet browsers your phone number or a call icon will be included with the ad in search results.

If you have these ads in a content network campaign, your phone number can be seen in mobile content and apps.

Phones without full browsers. The only way to reach a consumer using a phone without a full browser through AdWords is to use a custom mobile ad. To create these ads, navigate to your ad group and create a WAP mobile ad. In the mobile ad creation phase, you can choose to include your phone number. Add your phone number to the ad so that the phone number or a call icon will appear next to your ad, making it easy for the searcher to call your business.

Add your phone number to your Sitelinks

Sitelinks (links to important pages within your site that appear below your main listing in Google search results) are now available for everyone, and you should be using them. Some of the more common uses of Sitelinks are to have them point to product, sales, contact, about and specials pages. However, they are also another place you can include your phone number without taking up ad space.

Create a sitelink with your phone number as the anchor text and the destination URL being your site’s contact page.

Conclusion

If you feel that adding your phone number as part of your text ad will increase your calls and clicks, then please test it. Sometimes it’s true and sometimes it’s not. Adding phone numbers to text ads may be a waste of ad space.

Phone numbers such as 1-800-keyword do not necessarily fall under the same rule. Owning 1-800-keyword is a signal of authority as much as a phone number and using it in an ad can increase calls and clicks.

When you add phone numbers to your ads, make sure you are using phone call tracking to measure the frequency and quality of your calls.

Adding phone numbers to your ads on mobile devices and local properties should increase the number of phone calls your business receives without hurting your click-through-rate.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column

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About The Author: is the Founder of Certified Knowledge, a company dedicated to PPC education & training; fficial Google AdWords Seminar Leader, and author of Advanced Google AdWords.

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  • hex1848

    I’ve been using phone call tracking with local numbers provided by HostedNumbers.com in my Google places. I have them integrated with Google Analytics on my websites. HostedNumbers.com will do an HTTP Post to an Analytics URL which you configure as part of the service. I’ve played around with some custom scripts, but the Google Analytics setup was easy and I’m already using it for tracking web traffic on my site.

  • http://www.ringrevenue.com gnemechek

    Thank you for the helpful article. With respect to your point about click-through rates dropping due to the inclusion of phone numbers in ads, Google ran some tests recently on this and found that CTRs actually go up by 5-30% when phone numbers are included. Many of our network and agency partners clients experience similar CTR lift on their online campaign initiatives (search, display, content posts, social media, etc.) when a phone number is included in the advertisement. Often just the presence of a phone number is enough to convince a wary buyer to click, implying credibility and comforting them with the knowledge that the company is reachable if necessary. We definitely agree that testing is the way to go. Phone numbers may wind up not only lifting your CTR, but also deliver highly valuable phone traffic that converts more often and at higher price points. Also worth noting, many potential customers would prefer to call, which means that not displaying a number can translate into lost business. Especially in the case of mobile search. In short, it doesn’t have to be calls vs. clicks – it can be calls *and* clicks.

 

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