Updated January 10, 2023Reading Time: 6 minutes
There’s a Call For You
Digital marketing can be a long and complicated process. So the faster you can get talking to a potential customer the better. One of the quickest ways we’ve found to do that is using PPC ads and call extensions. A lead can be looking at Google’s search engine results page one minute, and on the phone with you the next. No steps in between to get lost. If you want more calls from your ads, it’s time to learn about call extensions.
What Are Ad Extensions
When you’re running Google Ads for your business, you’re spending money for every click you get. Even if you have deep marketing pockets, you’ll want to make sure those clicks are from people who are interested in what you’re selling. One way of doing that, is maximizing the information you provide people who see your ads on the search engine results page. You can’t do that without using ad extensions.
Ad extensions are added extras that give your ads more context. It also helps users make informed clicks. There are lots of different types of ad extensions. Some, like callouts will just add more text to your ad, helping to contextualize the rest of your ad. Others will show information like the location of your store or prices of products.
These extensions are used by Google to supplement the information in your ads. Google Ads’ software will pick the extension it thinks best fits the search, displaying it below your advert. For example, if someone searches for “Where is Company X” and that triggers one of your ads to show, it’s likely your location extension will display along with your ad. But if someone searches “Company X phone number,” it will most likely trigger a call extension.
What Are Call Extensions
Call extensions let you add clickable phone numbers to your ads. When your call extensions are presented, people can tap the screen or click a button to call your business directly either by opening a calling app on mobile, or in-browser call on desktop. From the ad, instead of first going to your website, the lead calls you. Essentially, you’re generating leads directly from the SERP.
This is the most direct form of PPC advertising. Click to call, leaves no doubt if an ad is, or isn’t, effective. Unlike other PPC ads where the website acts as a middle-man between the ad and your sales team, click to call ads get straight down to business. If a lead calls and isn’t well qualified, you know that the ad needs to be refined. If they don’t convert over the phone, it may be an indication to review your over-the-phone sales process. That’s the beauty of click-to call; there’s little wiggle room for ambiguity.
Here’s My Number, Call Me Maybe
If you want to use call extensions for your Google Ads you need to set up some things first.
1. Have someone answer the phone – I know this one is obvious. However, you’ll need to be specific about when your call extensions should appear in Google paid search. If you’re running ads 24/7 and your phone number is showing up at 4am, someone should answer it or its a waste of money. You can set all ad extensions to only show during specific periods throughout the day. So make sure your call extensions are showing when someone will be there to pick up the phone.
2. Make sure you’re tracking your calls – You can track the calls to your business using Google Analytics (GA). If you’re not tracking the calls in GA, it can be difficult to decipher which calls came from Google Ads. Even a non-retail business like ours, where we don’t often get calls, we struggle to remember which calls came from Google ads and which didn’t. So make sure your tracking is accurately set up.
If you don’t think GA offers you enough detail, you can use a tool like CallRail. CallRail plugs into your site and Google ads account, giving you extra detail. CallRail acts like a basic CRM for your phone calls, matching the ad to the call itself. As a result, you receive extra information like recordings of the calls which is an excellent way to determine the quality of leads and customer service.
Before you get started, here are a couple of quick side notes. Call extensions are the easiest way to add phone numbers to existing ads. But if you attempt to include a phone number elsewhere in your ad copy, your ad may be disapproved. Google doesn’t like phone numbers being used outside of their call extension framework. So, if you want to include a phone number in your ad, it’s best to use a call extension.
You can also create call-only campaigns, which only drives phone calls to your business. So the only clickable element in the ad will be the phone number. This is a great way of getting your phone to ring more.
How They Work
You can add call extensions at the account, campaign, or ad group level. If you create call extensions at different levels (account, campaign, or ad group), the most specific will normally be chosen by Google when your ad is shown.
Call extensions can run on any Search campaign, ad group, or ad. However, some restrictions apply on the Display Network. For example, Display Network call extensions show only on high-end mobile phones. They aren’t compatible with Google Ads’ built-in “call reporting” option. So if you’re using ads call extensions on Display Network ads, it might be best to consider using a tool like CallRail to help with tracking.
As with other ad extensions, call extensions don’t show with every ad impression. When the ad auction runs, the algorithm determines whether to show the call extension along with any other extensions you’ve added. What the software chooses is based on historical performance and other factors.
For the best mix of local targeting and broader reach, you may want to use location extensions in combination with call extensions. When you use both location extensions and call extensions, ads that feature specific business locations will direct calls to the phone numbers that are associated with those locations rather than the phone numbers set with your call extensions. This will also help you if your business spans several time zones. You can then gather phone call data on your location extension ads and call extension ads to see which extension type is performing better.
Show Me How
If you’ve got this far you should be convinced on why you need Call Extensions, but how do you set them up in Google Ads?
Well, take a look at this short video tutorial we’ve created explaining how to set them up.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, you might also want to check out our other Google Ads tutorials on sitelink extensions or callout extensions. [Links]
Short on time and want to skip to step-by-step instructions? Here they are:
- Sign in to your Google Ads account.
- Click “Ads & extensions” in the page menu.
- Go to the “Extensions” tab, and then click the plus icon.
- Select “Call extensions” from the list that appears to open the “Add call extension” dialog window.
- Select whether you want to add the call extension to your Account, Campaign, or Ad group. Then, you can either create a new call extension, or use an existing one.
- When creating a new call extension, you can decide if you want to enable call reporting. Turning call reporting on will allow Google Ads to track and show the calls you receive as conversions, and we strongly recommend you turn it on.
- Choose how you want to record your call conversions from the Conversion action dropdown menu. Google Ads automatically creates a default call conversion type called “Calls from ads”. You can choose “Use account settings” if you’ve previously set up account-level reporting, or create your own custom conversion type by selecting “Manage conversions” from the menu.
- If you’d like to optimize your call extension for mobile devices, head to the “Advanced options” and check “Mobile” under “Device preference.” Your extension will be given preference on mobile devices, but is still eligible to show on computers and tablets.
- Under “Extension scheduling”, choose if you’d like to schedule your call extension to show only on certain days and hours—for example, only during business hours, or during a specific time zone.
- Once you’ve added the call extensions to your ads, you can view their performance at the “Ads & extensions” tab from the page menu.
We know there’s more than one way to set something up in Google Ads, so if you know a quicker way to set up call extensions, let us know by commenting below.
To Call or Not to Call
Call extensions are a powerful tool, helping you get in touch with potential customers faster than any other form of PPC. There are valid reasons for not using call extensions (e.g., driving sales leads exclusively through web forms). Yet if using the phone is part of your business, we don’t see any reason why call extensions shouldn’t be a part of pay per click ad strategy.
Photo credit – Top: Mark Fischer
Photo credit – Bottom: Leoplus