The Right Way To Do Click-To-Call In An Enhanced Campaign World

Earlier this week, I attended the How To Do Click-To-Call In An Enhanced Campaign World session at SMX East. As a search usability professional, my primary interest is to understand not only how searchers locate and discover desired content, but also why searchers make specific choices.

For example, when does a searcher prefer to use a smartphone or some other mobile device to access desired content? Is there a clear benefit for using a mobile device, such as convenience or urgency? If so, can ad analytics truly help me understand what mobile searchers prefer to see and click on, and their motivations behind their preferences?

A number without context or a clear frame of reference is just a number. Do the new and updated enhancements help advertisers understand searcher context? “Google makes decisions based on stats, not reality,” said my colleague Brad Geddes, founder of Certified Knowledge.

So that’s what I want to learn: numbers put into proper context. When I hear a word like “enhanced” to describe something to help me understand searchers, I am the proverbial all ears.

David Szetela, owner and CEO of FMB Media, described some new changes in enhanced call extensions:

  • Extensions can be defined at the campaign or ad group level
  • Can have separate extension for mobile and PCs
  • Call extensions can be scheduled
  • Calls to tracked numbers shown in desktop ads are now free

One interesting feature in the click-to-call set up is the field: “Count phone calls as conversions when they last longer than XXX seconds.” On one hand, I think this is a fantastic feature because engaging prospects and current customers in conversation is crucial for phone conversions and a positive user experience. However, nowhere in the dashboard did I see the why part of the phone conversation.

Why were people clicking on the click-to-call ad? Was the reason timed urgency (Hungry now? Order our 2-pizza special before 1:00 pm and get $5 off)? A sense of comfort?

Szetela showed a very clever type of ad that can help advertisers filter out people who aren’t potential customers. “In B2B, you can display a respondent qualification such as telling the person viewing the ad that they need to have a certain ‘wallet depth’ in order to make the call,” he said.

Next in line to present was John Busby, SVP, Marchex Institute at Marchex. He shared 5 fun facts about phone calls:

  • Consumers curse in 1 out of every 200 calls to businesses (Ohio was the #1 state where cursing was the most common)
  • US Americans speak more on mobile devices than any other country (USA approximately 800 minutes per month; in second place is Ukraine with over 400 minutes per month)
  • Parents: kids are screening your calls.
  • Predicted number of calls from mobile search in 2016: estimate of 70 billion calls from consumers to businesses
  • How many butt-dials into Kansas City, Missouri 911: 200,000 calls

Next, he shared some data about the types of common click-to-call search ads:

  • Sales calls (26%)
  • Robocalls and spam (2%)
  • Misdials – calls placed accidentally (30%)
  • Customer service (42%)

“Advertisers need to identify which calls are which to identify specific campaigns,” he said. “No phone calls are created equal.”

“Use a call tracking number as your tracking pixel,” Busby continued. Some items you can track include:

  • Time of day
  • Caller ID
  • Area code
  • Frequency
  • IVR success
  • Call duration
  • Ad proximity

“These things are absolutely essential to understand each keyword and campaign,” he said. “Day-parting, proximity, and device type messaging promises to help advertisers target the right consumer at the right time.”

I agree. I think this information is valuable. However, what about context? Where in all of this data is the mental model of users, your target audience?

According to Busby, 70 to 80 percent of mobile hotel and car rental bookings are for the same day. This information helps me understand searcher mental models. Obviously, these users are experiencing a clear sense of urgency. That tells me, as an interaction designer and a usability professional, that I need to create a mobile interface that allows users to quickly and efficiently make immediate travel plans using a smartphone.

In addition, Busby said that currently, by and large, mobile users are new prospects. For example, 60% of calls were new prospects for auto dealers, and 59% of calls were new prospects for auto repair shops. As a usability professional, that information can help me decide a characteristic of future usability test participants. I might recruit prospects rather than current customers when testing local car dealer and car repair shop websites.

The next speaker was Marta Turek, Group Manager of Performance Media at Mediative. She presented case studies, best practices, and worst mistakes people make when creating and maintaining click-to-call campaigns.

One test her group performed was creating a standalone mobile account. Is it possible to maintain separate accounts to control core desktop vs. mobile budget? By setting up a separate mobile account, you:

  • Remove desktop budget from the risk equation
  • Maintain better budget control
  • Minimize the absolute dollar/money impact of desktop and tablet on mobile campaigns

“People need to be cognizant of shifts between desktop and mobile accounts,” said Turek. For example, small changes in a desktop account can quickly shift computer impressions and clicks to a mobile account. And any negative changes in desktop account will impact computer clicks in a mobile account. She recommends, minimally, that advertisers monitor these clicks on a weekly basis.

In conclusion, Turek offered these three core tips:

  • Maintain better control setting up separate mobile and desktop accounts
  • Any testing/negative changes in desktop account will see clicks and impressions shift to mobile account
  • Set different base desktop bids on brand vs. non-branded keywords in mobile account

Yesterday, Google launched estimated cross-device conversions in AdWords. According to Google’s Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of Ads and Commerce, in an interview with Search Engine Land columnist Ginny Marvin, he said, “Consumers just want information, they don’t care how they get it. Today’s announcement is about measurement and catching up to the consumer behavior in the real world.”

I cannot help but disagree profusely with Ramaswamy’s statement about users/searchers not caring about how they get information. Consumers do care. Why do consumers curse in 1 out of 200 phone calls? Why are there so many phone calls to customer service? Why are usability and user experience professionals not lacking in jobs for fixing lousy mobile interfaces?

Consumers do care about how they get information. And if we search professionals can use the click-to-call data to help us deliver ads and other messages in the most appropriate searcher context? Well, that is a win-win situation for advertisers, customers and even search engines.

Related Entries

About The Author

Shari Thurow
Shari Thurow is the Founder and SEO Director at Omni Marketing Interactive and the author of the books Search Engine Visibility and When Search Meets Web Usability. Shari currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Information Architecture Institute (IAI) and the ASLIB Journal of Information Management. She also served on the board of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA).