Why Call Extensions Are Crucial to Paid Search

When it comes to paid search ad campaigns, there are several paths to conversion. But one we want to talk about today is a call extension. You know, the number that displays a business’s phone number with their ad when a consumer conducts a search result.

If you don’t know what a call extension is or merely recollect what it looks like, you aren’t using it. And that means you are missing out on conversion opportunities.

Not utilized enough, we’ve created this article to discuss the importance of call extensions to your paid search ads and show you how you can leverage this simple, often overlooked piece of a campaign to improve conversion rates.

What Value Do Call Extensions Bring To Your Paid Search Campaigns?

Businesses who’ve dove into paid search advertising place high value on phone calls from a new prospect—far more than receiving a prospect’s email address and then spending weeks or months nurturing them to point of sales-readiness.

That’s because prospects who call a business directly can often be qualified as serious leads. Chances are they’re well beyond the discovery phase and are serious about making a purchase, they may just need a little more information about a product or service to make that decision a whole lot easier.

And with today’s consumer requiring more interaction with a brand, you can’t get more personal than someone being on the other side of the phone—hopefully providing excellent customer service by kindly answering all of their questions and addressing their reservations.

When your paid search ads don’t have call extensions, you make it harder for consumers to make the leap to conversion, because they’ll be interacting with a web page and not a member of your sales team.

“But they can find our contact number on the website or landing page.”

While this is true, you might be surprised to learn 70 percent of users have called an advertiser directly from the results page rather than click on the ad.


A Consumer’s Time Counts

Seconds of a consumer’s time counts. If the consumer knows what they are looking for and are ready to take action, they don’t want to waste time clicking through your website or your landing page to get your contact information. Instead they’ll go with your competitor who made it easy for them to get what they needed...

This is especially true if the consumer is using a mobile phone and can press the “Click to Call” button attached to your paid search ad—they don’t need to browse your site to know they are ready to buy.

AdWords Click to Call

Source: Portent.com

But consumers aren’t the only ones who come out on top: You do too.

By reducing the number of touchpoints the consumer needs to communicate with your sales team, you shrink the length of your conversion funnel; meaning, you attract consumers and move them quickly through your funnel to the point of sales.

Local Matters

Call extensions prove particularly useful for consumers seeking businesses in their areas. If a consumer does a general search for a product or service, they will receive a list of businesses who fit their match—both local and not.

When there are no call extensions, consumers can’t make the distinction between businesses that are local and those that are not.

If your number appears and holds the same area code as the person conducting the search—or at least one they recognize to be nearby—they will be more inclined to choose your business because it gives them recourse if they are not satisfied with the purchase, want to return for additional purchases, or want to avoid spending on shipping or other fees.

In a Google case study, Rentokil Pest Control saw a 250% increase in calls over a period of six months by using local numbers. This is because they were able to communicate to prospects that they were nearby and available to help.

Your Ad Stands Out

Short and sweet: Call extensions make your paid search ads stand out among others in the search engine results.

We’ll show you what we mean by comparing two Microsoft Store ads: One with a call extension and the other without.

AdWords Ad with Call Extension

When you look at the ad above, there is a high likelihood your eyes are brought to the center, straight to the address and phone number. Now look at the ad below. Were your eyes drawn to the name of the company, the store locator, and special offers tabs?

AdWords Ad without Call Extension

The first ad stands out because consumers who are serious about making a purchase or receive a service have all the information they need to make direct contact with the Microsoft store nearest them. They have been supplied a straight path to conversion; they don’t have to wrestle with additional steps posed in ad #2—consumers are quite aware of this.

Author’s Note: Google forwarding numbers may not appear with desktop ads if your ad group doesn’t get a certain number of clicks within a 4-week period. In this case, your business phone number will be displayed. Here is information about call extension criteria.

Looking At The Bigger Picture: Conversion Tracking & Ad Campaign Optimization

More than anything, consumers are your biggest asset. Without them, your business would not thrive, so we spent the first half of our article discussing the value call extensions bring to your paid search campaigns, but in the context of the consumer.

Now that you are ready for the bigger picture, let us draw out how call extension reporting specifically aids with conversions and helps you measure ad campaign performance.   

As you already know, there are several analytics you can pull to gain insight into campaign performance. Look at call extension reporting as an additional piece to the analytical puzzle.

With call reporting, Google can track the number of calls that have connected and how long they last. Calls of a certain duration can be counted as conversions. The beauty here is you set the threshold for what duration should count as a conversion.

To determine the best duration:

  • Identify trends by looking through your call history
  • Speak to your staff to find out what the minimum duration of a quality call generally is
  • Run a sample call yourself and time how long it takes to navigate call menus/greetings before you and a member of your team get down to business

Having a set duration will help you filter out shorter calls that probably don’t lead to sales or other valuable actions for your business. With those calls out of the way, you can more accurately measure the performance of your call extensions by focusing on the ads that effectively lead to qualified phone calls.

Moreover, Google will report calls at the ad group level, so you can see which ad groups have a good cost-per-call and which don’t. Those that are performing well will give you a sense of which specific keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns are leading to conversions.

Together, with other analytical information you gather around your ads, you can optimize your paid search ad campaigns to increase the likelihood of conversions.

Call Extensions Best Practices

While some paid search best practices can be windy and complex, call extension best practices are easy—we’ve already discussed some:

  1. Only use your Google forwarding number for AdWords, as not to compromise the results of your analytics reporting. (Besides, since Google forwarding numbers associated with your call reporting are property of Google, you can’t use these numbers outside of call reporting and website call conversion tracking.)
  2. If you are local, combine call extensions and local extensions for an added punch. When you use the duo, Google will display your address and phone number (like the Microsoft example we provided), giving searchers the additional information they need to connect with your business.
    • You should consider showing different area codes if you have different ad groups for different cities.
  3. Monitor your performance. Track the performance of the call conversions and analyze the data to improve your campaigns.
  4. Based on call reporting and other analytics gathered from your ads, optimize your campaign to improve the likelihood of conversions.

To set up call extensions, check out Google’s easy instructional guide.