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How to Set Up Call-Only Campaigns for Local Businesses

Call-Only Campaigns are quick to set up and can boost conversions. This is a tutorial with screenshots on how to get started with call only campaigns.

Setting Up Call-Only Campaigns for Local Businesses | SEJ

Call-only campaigns are part of a new Google ad format for mobile campaigns. Campaigns with call-only ads target mobile devices only without bid modifiers, which is what advertisers would usually use to narrow down device targeting options on Google AdWords.

How to Set Up Call-Only Campaigns

In order to use call-only ads, create a new campaign targeting “Search Network only”.

Call Only Campaigns 1Source: Screenshot of Google AdWords provided by author

You are now asked to choose a campaign type. Keep “Search Network only” and choose “Call-only”.

Call Only Campaigns 5Source: Screenshot of Google AdWords provided by author

Continue with the campaigns setup by choosing the geographic areas you want to target, setting a default bid, deciding when to run your campaigns, and how your ads are delivered. This part is identical to any “Search Network” campaign setup.

After hitting “Next” at the bottom of the page, you will then be able to write a text ad, insert your business name, and (of course) your phone number. Alternatively, you can set up a Google forwarding number and get call metrics such as how long each phone call was, whether someone picked up or not, what the caller area code was, and more.

Here is a screenshot of what call-only ads look like in the setup:

Call Only Campaigns 3Source: Screenshot of Google AdWords provided by author
Call Only Campaigns 4Source: Screenshot of Google AdWords provided by author

Keywords and ad groups for call-only campaigns are set up just as you would set up any other campaign keeping in mind that the ads are shown on mobile devices only.

How to Make the Most Out of Call-Only Ads

In order to make call-only ads more effective, the two top positions are your best bet. Imagine you need to grab a cab after a dinner with a client. Clearly you don’t want to wait forever to find one so you take your smartphone and google local cab companies. Let’s say there are two call-only ads right on top. Honestly, would you scroll down and even check out the second page or would you click on the first ad you see? You would click the first ad of course… We all would. While showing up first is great for the vast majority of campaign types and industries, it is particularly important for call-only ads.

Advantages of Call-Only Campaigns vs. Regular Text Ads

Call-only ads are the quickest way to get potential customers on the phone because they reduce the amount of clicks it takes to speak to someone. Additionally, conversion rates are usually high if your sales team and customer service department is up to the challenge. One of the biggest advantages of getting a customer on the phone quickly is that you will likely get questions that callers would not otherwise ask because looking at a landing page is not interactive. You could install a chat to compensate for that but in the end that would just result in one more click than call-only ads because customers get in touch with you right after clicking the ad.

Disadvantages of Call-Only Campaigns

One of the main disadvantages of call-only ads is that potential customers will not visit your website. They click on the add and will see the phone number ready to call. The only thing they need to do now is hit the green phone icon to dial. If they don’t, you paid for a click and got nothing out of it. Some advertisers might argue that you still got branding because people saw your ad but in the end, if you want branding, there are better ad formats than call-only. Another disadvantage can be that people misunderstand your ad text and call you for something you are actually not offering.

Call-Only Campaigns vs. Phone Number Extensions

Phone numbers can be added to text ads as an extension. When viewed from a mobile device, this phone number becomes clickable.

Here is an ad with a phone number extension:

Call Only Campaigns 5Source: Screenshot of Google AdWords taken by author

Here is a call-only ad:

Call Only Campaigns 8Source: Screenshot of Google AdWords taken by author

Some businesses prefer phone number extensions because it gives the customer a choice whether to go to the website or call as the first action. If you want customers to call and the vast majority of clients are closed on the phone while they are on their own mobile, call-only campaigns are likely to be the better choice.


Call-only ads are the right choice if you can write text ads that clearly describe your service or product and have high phone call conversion rates. Delivery services, transportation companies, and other businesses are likely to benefit most from call-only ads. This ad type is quick to set up and can be used in combination with a Google forwarding number which is a huge plus.


Featured Image: Created by author for Search Engine Journal

Category PPC
Rocco Baldassarre Founder & CEO at Zebra Advertisement

Rocco Baldassarre is a digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur. He is best known for being the founder of the award ...

How to Set Up Call-Only Campaigns for Local Businesses

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