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8 Ways to Drive More Calls – & Better Call Quality – with Paid Search

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8 Ways to Drive More Calls – & Better Call Quality – with Paid Search

Oftentimes, calls can be seen as more valuable than forms.

Form fills still require a follow-up call – in which case a salesperson may or may not be able to reach the prospect. While with a call, the prospect is ready and waiting on the line.

Likewise, I’ve heard salespeople mention that they prefer calls to emails and other forms of electronic communication because they are confident that if they can speak to a person on the phone that they can close the sale – and possibly even upsell the prospect.

Plus, prospects that are calling are sometimes more likely to have an immediate need versus folks that fill out a web form.

Whether calls or forms are more valuable is something every business should determine using their own data to understand close rates, average sale value, and ROI of each for comparison.

Assuming you’re one of the many businesses that find phone calls to be a high priority for your business, then welcome! This post is for you.

In this post, we’ll walk through the many ways to ensure that you’re driving more calls while keeping a close eye on call quality.

1. Ensure Your Campaigns Have Call Extensions (& That They Are Optimized to Drive Business)

Call extensions are the absolute simplest way to drive more calls from your paid search ads in both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads.

Leveraging call extensions allows you to show a phone number alongside your ad.

If the searcher clicks your phone number instead of your ad, they will place a call directly to your business – foregoing your landing page.

The best part?

You’re only charged for the click – exactly the same way that you would be if they clicked through to your landing page.

With call extensions in place, it’s important to ensure that you’re capturing the maximum amount of value from those interactions.

Call extensions can be scheduled, so it’s best to only show call extensions when you have folks available to answer the phone.

For instance, you could schedule your call extensions from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (or your own custom schedule) when representatives are available but allow the rest of the ad unit to run outside of business hours, driving prospects to a form when call lines aren’t open.

Ensure that anyone who will be answering phones is trained to do so.

Companies that convert calls to sales best often have a script for reps to use, which helps to keep the conversation moving forward, while taking out any guesswork of trying to identify the prospect’s needs.

Well-trained reps may sound like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many folks tasked with answering phones don’t have the requisite skills to convert leads to sales.

You can track calls from your ad as conversions, to ensure that you know exactly which interactions are driving the most value.

You may even want to set a minimum threshold for call length to ensure that you’re only optimizing toward valuable calls.

For instance, you could track calls that are a minimum of 30 seconds as a conversion vs. tracking all calls as conversions.

You’ll most likely want to ensure that the conversion is set up to only count the first call – not duplicate calls from the same prospect – which can be set up in the conversions settings.

2. Use Call-Only Ads & Campaigns

In Google Ads, an alternative to running search campaigns with call extensions is to run call-only ads.

Since advertisers don’t have full control over when call extensions do and do not show, using call-only campaigns takes the guesswork out of whether or not your prospects see a phone number.

With call-only campaigns, the ad unit not only delivers your phone number every time – it also limits a prospect’s options for how they can connect with your business.

Call-only ads do not use landing pages and, instead, only allow prospects to call your business.

There are some pros and cons to call-only ads, so before you run them, you should be aware that:

Call-Only Ads Will Only Appear on Devices That Are Able to Make Outgoing Calls

Google can and will still track the call if it is made on another device, however, even if it isn’t on the same day. Google uses call forwarding numbers to track calls back to the appropriate campaign, ad, and keyword.

If someone writes down the number and calls a few days later – you’ll still see the call associated with the date that the ad displayed and the keyword that was searched at that time.

Call-Only Ads Don’t Allow as Much Copy – Since the First Headline Is Reserved for Your Phone Number

Also, keep in mind, since these ads show on mobile, your last headline and second description line may occasionally be dropped. (This is, of course, also true for any text ad that shows on a mobile SERP)

Call-only ads also won’t include sitelink extensions as users are unable to click-through landing pages.

Location extensions, structured snippet extensions, and callout extensions are still eligible to show.

Other Considerations

Likewise, some business types don’t tend to do as well with call-only campaigns, but others excel with them.

  • Businesses that require a lot of consideration can often benefit from folks clicking-through to a landing page to research the company before calling. In these cases, driving prospects right to a call before the prospect has a chance to research the company may lead to higher call volumes but lower lead qualification.
  • On the flip side, businesses with really poor web experiences and landing pages can benefit from allowing prospects to circumvent their website to connect with an agent.
  • For prospects with a sense of urgency, call-only ads can be ideal because it allows them to connect with your company right away, in their time of need.

Generally, call-only ads get less volume than typical text ads. I prefer to split out separate campaigns for call-only ads, versus incorporating them into existing campaigns.

Within call-only campaigns, you may even want to test using looser terms than what you’re currently using in your search campaigns (and even regular broad match), as long-tail terms often don’t see much impression share with call-only.

3. Implement Bid Adjustments for Calls

If you have call extensions and/or call-only ads in your account, you can also add bid adjustments in order to let Google Ads know that you want to prioritize calls.

Using these bid modifiers allows you to influence how frequently your call extensions and call-only ads show.

4. Deliver Ads within Google Maps

The Maps channel is a great place to find folks with a high sense of urgency. (Especially if you target a tight geo-target around your business for non-geo-modified terms.)

These folks are looking for a nearby business – and that could just be you!

If that local search is happening on a mobile phone, it can even indicate a higher sense of urgency as those folks are out and about right now, potentially looking for what could be their next stop, making them prime prospects.

Delivering your ad in Google Maps is easy. All you have to do is connect your Google My Business (GMB) listing to your Google Ads account and target your campaign locally.

You’ll also have the option to set up bid adjustments in a radius around one or all of your GMB listings – so you can bid higher for folks that are closer to your business.

Unfortunately, call extensions are not eligible to run on Google Maps, so the phone number that will be delivered in the ad will be that of your GMB listing.

For more information about local search ads, check out Google’s help section.

5. Calling Prospects to Action Call

If calls are your main priority, spell it out! It’s always best to leave the guesswork out of what a prospect should do next. Keep this in mind as you write your ad copy.

Test different CTAs and get creative. There are a ton of ads that say “call now”, so try to differentiate yourself if you can.

CTAs like “call now – no hold times” or “reps available 24/7” can help set yourself apart and give prospects more confidence that somebody is ready and waiting to speak with them.

6. Optimize Your Landing Pages for Calls

A big piece of driving calls – assuming you aren’t using call-only ads – is ensuring that the landing page experience does a good job of facilitating phone calls. Making the phone number easy to find is a really easy way to drive more calls.

Prospects typically look for a phone number in the top left corner of a desktop website and a similar location on mobile – if not centered at the top.

That said, it’s always best to use your own data to find out where CTAs should be placed. Running a heat mapping tool can help you identify click and scroll patterns to make sure you’re putting information and CTAs in the right places.

Ensuring that your site offers a good UX on mobile is important, too. Since mobile users are often more likely to call than fill out a form, you want to be sure that the site is easy to navigate on mobile.

For example, having click-to-call in place creates a better experience, so that prospects don’t have to copy and paste your phone number – or worse, try to remember it.

7. Track on Page Calls & Import Them as Conversions

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have good tracking in place, and calls are no exception.

There are several different platforms that allow you to dynamically track calls on-site, all while passing that information back into Google Ads or Microsoft Ads (and even social platforms) as a conversion.

This allows you to ensure that you’re always optimizing to enter the auctions that have the highest return.

8. Monitor Call Quality

Call quality is just as important, if not more, than call quantity. As you focus on driving up call volume, you’ll also want to keep a pulse on call quality.

Call quality has two facets:

  • The most obvious: whether or not the calls are coming from relevant prospects; and
  • Whether calls are being handled well by the folks responsible for answering the phones

If you use a call tracking software, as discussed in the last section, you’ll have the data to analyze both of these facets of call quality.

With a call tracking software, you can download your call data in order to have access to Caller ID details.

Then you can match those details to the phone numbers that you have in your CRM to ensure that you’re receiving calls from qualified prospects.

You can also use this to doublecheck that you aren’t driving customer service calls – unless that is part of your goal.

If you find you’re getting a lot of calls from existing customers and you don’t have an opportunity to upsell, you should consider uploading a list of current customers to exclude from your campaign.

You can analyze your results on a campaign by campaign basis to measure the real outcomes of the calls that are being driven by each campaign.

You’ll also have insights into how many calls go unanswered – and at what time of day. Some platforms can tell you the number of times the phone rang before it was answered, or the number of rings before a prospect disconnected.

Last but certainly not least, most call tracking software platforms also have call recording options. If you don’t have a CRM to match back calls to, you can use call recordings to get a sense of call quality.

Moreover, call recording allows you to monitor whether how your representatives are handling customers: whether they are following your script, and how well received the script is – which is great for testing different messaging.

If you don’t have a script but are considering implementing one, you can use this data to see what dialogue is working well currently and use that as a starting point.

If this sounds like micro-managing, trust me – it isn’t!

True story: a client of mine once overheard one of their technicians explaining how to skin a squirrel to another technician in the background of a prospect call.

Needless to say, you can never be too sure about how calls are being handled so it really helps to keep a pulse on it!

More Resources:

CategoryPaid Search
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Amy Bishop

Owner & Marketing Consultant at Cultivative, LLC

Amy has built and implemented multichannel digital strategies for a variety of companies of all sizes from start-ups and small ... [Read full bio]

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