Do you use Google Ads to drive sales calls to your business? Then you should know that the easiest way to get customers searching for you on the web to call your business is with Google’s click-to-call functionality, also knows as call extensions. Google Ads call extensions are an ad extension available in Google Ads accounts that encourage people to call your business by showing a phone number with your existing ads. They make it easier for people searching for your business on Google to call because they can just click on the phone number in your ad right in the search results page without navigating to your website. 

Follow this simple guide to set up and optimize your call extensions to maximize your Google Ads revenue. Search, click, call, CA-CHING!

How Call Extensions Work

Call extensions let you add clickable phone numbers to your search ads, which Google says can significantly increase clickthrough rates. These “clicks” are actually calls, of course. Since phone calls tend to convert at a higher rate than website clicks do, and clicks on the phone number cost the same as regular headline clicks, using call extensions can greatly increase your return on ad spend (ROAS). 

When your call extensions show in the search results, people can tap a CTA button or link to call your business directly. That means better customer engagement with your ads and more chances for you to get conversions and interact with your customers. Google’s research shows that 70% of mobile searchers use the click-to-call feature and 47% of searchers say that if a business doesn’t have a phone number in the search results, they’re likely to explore other brands. If phone calls are important to your business, you’d be wise to use call extensions with your ads.

Note that like other Google ad extensions, call extensions won’t serve with every impression. When the ad auction runs, Google’s algorithm determines whether to show the call extension based on historical performance and other factors. It is completely normal for call extensions to show for only a subset of total ad impressions. However, you can do bid adjustments to show your call interaction ads more often. Ah, the magic of Google.

Setting up Call Extensions in Google Ads

While you will normally set up call extensions in Google Ads or Search Ads 360, Google Ads may set up automated call extensions when your website has a phone number and your business goals include getting people to call you. Either way, it’s a good idea to set up your call extensions to make sure the maximum number of people see your ad with a clickable phone number. It’s pretty easy to set up call extensions. 

They can be added at the account, campaign, or ad group level. Call extensions can run on any Search campaign, ad group or ad, though some restrictions apply on the Display Network. If you create call extensions at different levels (account, campaign, or ad group), the most specific will be used. So when you add call extensions to an ad group, those extensions show instead of your campaign- or account-level call extensions. Likewise, campaign-level extensions override account-level extensions. Here’s how to get started:

How to create call extensions 

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click Ads & extensions in the page menu.
  3. Click Extensions then click the plus icon.
  4. Select Call extensions from a list of choices. The “Add call extension” view then appears.
  5. Select whether you want to add the call extension to your Account, Campaign, or Ad group.
  6. Select Create new to make a new call extension, or  Use existing if you’ve previously created a call extension.
    • If you’re creating a new extension, enter your phone number.
    • If you choose to use an existing extension, select your number from a list that appears.

You can learn more about setting up call extensions here.  

Using Call Tracking to Measure Conversions and Optimize Google Call Extension Ads

You can set up call reporting in Google Ads to measure the performance of your call extensions, location extensions, and call-only ads. You can track details like call duration, call start and end time, caller area code, and whether the call was connected. You also can count phone calls of a specified duration as conversions. While this is better than nothing, these proxies do not necessarily equate to conversions. You could be driving customer service calls and Google would still count them as conversions. 

This not only makes your reporting and ROI calculations inaccurate, but it can also throw a wrench in your optimization strategy, especially if you are using this data to inform automated bidding. To make sure that you have the data you need to accurately report conversions and optimize your ads, you should use a call tracking platform like Invoca that’s integrated with your Google Ads platform. Watch this short video to learn how to use Invoca with Google Ads to get more accurate reporting and increase your ROI.

The Difference Between Call Extensions and Call-Only Campaigns

It’s worth noting that call-only campaigns are different than call extensions in Google Ads. Call extensions add a phone number and/or click-to-call button to your existing search ads. Users can either click through to your website or tap on the call button to contact your business. Call-only campaigns are just that — the search user can only call your business through the ad and cannot click through to your website. Ads created in call-only campaigns are fine-tuned to show only on mobile devices that are capable of making calls, so they won’t be displayed on desktop or tablets that can’t make calls. Data like call conversions can be tracked with Invoca when using call-only campaigns just like it is with call extensions.

Google also recently updated the layout of its call-only ad units. In the new layout, the business name and headline will show directly below the phone number, along with a larger phone icon. Google says the changes have the goal to make it more clear to users what advertisers offer and make the call-to-action more prominent. Google claims that advertisers using the new call-only ads design have seen a 14% increase in phone calls, a 16% increase in call conversions and better cost efficiencies with an 8% decrease in overall paid clicks. They also say that the new design can reduce the number of accidental clicks from people who did not mean to call.

Tips for Maximizing Revenue from Call Extension Ads

If the primary intention of your ads is to drive calls, you’ll want to do a little more fine-tuning when adding call extensions to your ads. First, you’ll want to make sure you’re designing your ads appropriately. Poor ad design is one of the most common reasons PPC campaigns drive low-quality calls.

To design paid search ads that drive high-intent shoppers to call, start by using language in your ads that makes it clear why the person should call. For example, if you’re an HVAC installer and your goal is to get more estimate appointments, say “Call Now for a Free In-Home Estimate!” If you are a mortgage broker trying to give more rate quotes, say “Call for a No-Risk Rate Quote Today.”

Casting too wide of a net will only help you catch bad calls. Focus on making your copy concise and aligned with your goals. To get more out of the space, you can also use the URL to display a call to action or other information.

Use Call Tracking Data to Optimize Campaigns for Calls

This one seems obvious, but you have to remember that digital campaigns that drive calls require a different approach from campaigns that drive clicks. Dig into reports in the Invoca dashboard or Google Ads and look at the top keywords that are driving phone calls. To make sure you are homing in on high-quality calls, don’t just count the number of calls. Look at calls that result in conversions, then optimize your bids to ensure keywords generating the most quality calls will get top ad position.

Additionally, you may want to consider upping your PPC spend. Keep in mind that calls convert at 10x the rate of clicks and are typically much more valuable conversions. Spending more on your call campaigns could be worth the extra investment.

Focus on peak times

Call volume for most businesses fluctuates throughout the day and night. People probably won’t call for a mortgage quote at 2 a.m. on Saturday, but they will light up the phones at 9 a.m. on Monday. Analyze call data in Google AdWords, Google Analytics, or Invoca to spot peak days and times for phone calls. Then, confirm that these are high-converting calls from prospects. From there, you can increase bid modifiers to make sure your call ads appear during those times. And, of course, make sure that you are only displaying your ads during hours which your business can take calls! 

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Owen Ray

Posted by Owen Ray

Owen Ray is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Invoca. Prior to that, he worked with SaaS companies like Aria Systems, Glassdoor, and Mindjet. Owen sharpened his writing tools at San Francisco State University and Bay Area newspapers before working his way into the Silicon Valley creative services set. He hails from Santa Rosa, California and definitely does not leave work early on Wednesdays to go drag racing at Sonoma Raceway.

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