old phone

It can be hard to predict how a product or service will evolve.

Everyone expected mobile phones, for example, to evolve and advance. But these days, many people treat their smartphones like glorified cameras — as evidenced by the popularity of selfies.

Despite this shift in use — and the ubiquity of texts and chat applications — a fair number of people still use smartphones for the purpose for which they were intended ; that is, to make phone calls. 

That's especially true in business settings. Consequently, managers who want to optimize digital customer experience should evaluate call extensions as vital customer experience portals.

Talk-Talk

In fact, despite the aforementioned selfie and app mania, smartphone use is driving a spike in calls to businesses. By 2019, mobile channels are set to drive 162 billion calls.

Marketing plans that fail to attribute for these inbound calls are simply short-sighted. The good thing is that there are tools that can help highlight attribution more clearly. 

Paid search ads have also begun to include call extensions. These are the same AdWords or Bing ads you see in a query, except they also include metadata for a phone number and branch location. They are designed to encourage users to contact a location.

An AdWords ad with a call extension can appear like this (see image, left).

call extension

The call extensions are added within the AdWords Campaign manager. Users navigate to the Ad Extensions tab, then select Call Extension from the drop-down menu.

Next, users select the extension button to add the extension to a campaign in AdWords.

Call extensions can be labeled just as any other distinct campaign, so its metrics can display within the paid search manager or analytics solution.

The main difference from a regular paid search campaign is a button to dial alongside a link to a webpage. The buttons are set to call a location with the click rather than having customers dial the actual number.

There are call-only call extensions. These are designed with call buttons and no links to a website or landing page. This is useful when details for a call purpose are not needed entirely online, such as a customer service call.

Next Steps

Once a campaign is set up, marketers can plan what happens when customers call via an extension and test customer service procedures around the event.

One way of examining influence is to set a custom alert in Google Analytics can track increases and decreases in goal conversions, traffic, or other metrics influenced by a call tracking campaign.

To do so, managers should select a custom alert, then select "AdWords campaign” in the “This applies to” menu, then select a conversion metric of interest in the “Alert when an” drop down menu. Ideas for alerts can be tailored based on the site needs, such as changes in average order value, or referral path volume if a call is meant to be customer service call.

google call campaign alert

Managers can use also combine campaign performance with other analytics reports, such as determining if customers call at some times more frequently than others using the hour of day reports in Google Analytics.

Overall, call extensions are one more piece to the multichannel puzzle that marketers are facing because they can provide local -oriented details useful for customers.

According to a 2014 Google study reported by Search Engine Watch, ads tailored to local search increased customer activity, with 19 percent of customers surveyed stating they made an unplanned purchase after seeing a local search ad.

Developing phone leads from call extensions can provide better data for decisions that can increase sales.

With paid search call extensions, marketers are better able to attribute an ad to a sales call. They will have a better feel for the full value of a marketing budget.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License Title image by JoeInSouthernCA