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AdWords’ New Strategy: Call Me Maybe?


Would you be willing to pay for an online ad that doesn’t take customers to your website?

For many businesses the answer is apparently “yes,” at least if that ad puts them in touch with you by phone instead. That’s the idea behind the newest type of Google AdWords ad, the “call-only” ad.

Call-only ads appear in mobile search results. They look like normal ads, but tapping on them doesn’t take the user to your website. Instead it shows your number and prompts them to tap to call you. In other words, it funnels toward phone instead of web.

Click-to-call is nothing new; AdWords has long supported the ability to let mobile users call you instantly instead of clicking through. But this is the first time that AdWords gives the option of calling only, essentially barricading off your website.

Who Wants Call-Only?

Most of us put a lot of money into making our websites mobile-friendly and toward honing the success rate of our landing pages. So why would you want to use call-only ads? There are a few reasons, such as:

  • To turn people who are “just browsing” into real leads. Sometimes clicks to your website are solid gold. Other times, they reflect someone who’s just looking around—they’re price checking, or gathering info, or just window shopping. If you can get them on the phone with your sales team you move them farther along the sales funnel.
  • If your business relies on quotes or consultations. Web traffic from pay-per-click (PPC) ads is well suited to a certain kind of business—typically e-retail sites where users can complete the purchase easily online. But that’s not how every business works. Many companies, especially those that provide services, rely on discussing a customer’s particular needs and then providing a quote. This kind of consultation doesn’t begin until you and the customer get in direct contact, and call-only ads make that happen.
  • To take full advantage of the smartphone. Call-only ads only appear on phones. That gives you one vital piece of information on everyone who sees your ad: they can call you instantly. Seen in that light, a call-only ad is an easy way to take advantage of your customer’s device when it’s in their hand. Even for a retail business it can make sense to run them alongside traditional PPC ads.
  • Because the consumer may prefer it. Customers searching for certain types of businesses on mobile phones—restaurants and local businesses come to mind—may prefer to call you. They might want a quick answer that doesn’t involve looking at their screen while driving around. In that situation a traditional ad only creates a middleman. Call-only gives them what they want immediately, making it more likely that they complete the transaction.

The Right Tool for the Job

Whether your particular business will benefit from running call-only ads depends on a lot of factors. If you get a lot of site traffic from mobile, and if firsthand contact with a customer pulls them farther along toward a purchase, then it’s worth a try. If so, you can create a complete call-only campaign or add a call-only element to an existing campaign.

For other businesses, call-only may not be as fruitful or it may be best to use it sparingly, for certain products or seasons. (It would be interesting to see the effects of a call-only campaign during Black Friday, for instance.)

If you need help getting the most out of AdWords, EverSpark is here to help. We can set up the right campaigns with the best keywords and drive more sales to your site. Get your free consultation today.