Stop Using Desktop Conversions For Mobile Search: 6 Strategies To Help Drive Mobile Calls


Despite the shift of local search from desktop to mobile, SMBs are still using desktop strategies for mobile marketing.

While mobile ad spending is expected to increase by 50 percent, desktop advertising budgets driven by PPM, PPC and CTR are still often used to plan and measure mobile ad success. While those metrics are not entirely obsolete, mobile search should be analyzed with methods that take advantage of its strengths.

One of those mobile metrics is calls. Click-to-call and call extensions make generating calls to SMBs a seamless one-touch action driven by mobile ads — unlike the much more deliberate and separate function of moving from desktop screen to dialing a phone number.

As a result, analysts expect a sizable boost in call volumes to local businesses. Mobile search in particular will eclipse other sources and drive 65 billion calls to businesses by 2016, a volume that will grow at a 43 percent compound annual growth rate.

Credit: DialogTech, “The Click-To-Call Playbook For Paid Search”

The lift in call leads from mobile search is good news to SMBs, as calls are the most valued source of leads. According to a report by BIA/Kelsey, 66.4 percent of SMBs rate phone calls as a good or excellent source of leads, higher than any other source, including online forms, emails, paid leads, and even in-person leads.

The value of calls as leads is no surprise. Calls indicate strong interest and a live connection to a customer or potential sale. The immediacy of the response, answering the customer’s precise needs and the ability to engage in a two-way dialogue all help heighten conversion rates of phone call leads.

And yet, even though the technology exists to drive more calls, SMBs often use desktop measurements such as click-through rates and design ads that boost conversions like completing web forms.

Not only can that strategy lead to poor feedback on the effectiveness of those ads, but it can actually detract from critical mobile conversions such as calls.



A study by xAd found that focusing on CTRs negatively affects secondary actions which can be much more productive in driving leads to the business. The study found that when ads were optimized for higher click-through rates resulting in increases of up to 38 percent across campaigns, the secondary action rate for actions such as phone calls fell by up to 69 percent.

So what are some good ways to take advantage of the correlation between mobile search ads and call leads? Two of LSA’s members, DialogTech and Telmetrics, recently released a playbook and e-book respectively to help SMBs use local search to get that phone ringing. Following are six strategies from those guides for using paid search to drive calls.

1. Use Call Extensions For The Quickest And Most Direct Connection To Your Business

Call extensions are buttons within search results that, when clicked, immediately dial a phone number on the user’s mobile device. They may be in the form of a phone icon, a “call” button or a link from a phone number that appears in the search result or ad.

Credit: DialogTech

Credit: DialogTech, “The Click-To-Call Playbook For Paid Search”

Call extensions are the most direct conversion to call-in leads for smartphones — where, as discussed above, the majority of searches for local businesses are occurring.

And DialogTech reports in its “Click-to-Call Playbook for Paid Search” that consumers want and use the convenience of call extensions when they are looking for local business information. Seventy percent of consumers have clicked on call extensions, while 50 percent will look at other ads or results if call extensions are missing. Including call extensions boosts ad performance with an 8-percent increase in CTR.

Thus, using call extensions in all marketing assets — whether they be enhanced listings, paid search results, landing pages, social media pages, mobile websites or mobile ads — is a no-brainer.

2. Let The Locals Know You’re Local, Too

Consumers are shopping local at an increasing rate, not just because the businesses are close by, but because they trust local business owners more and believe the products and services are superior. Eighty-two percent of US consumers shop local businesses, and almost 50 percent said they would increase shopping for local products and services in the upcoming year.

This is further reflected in Google’s reports that 50 percent of searches have local intent. Thus it is vital to make sure consumers know that a business is local (and locally owned).

Local area codes, location information in ad text and URLs and location extensions that include a link to directions to your business all communicate that the business is nearby and local.

Even national franchises can take advantage of consumer preferences for local by using the term “locally owned” in ad text or including location information in their names, such as “Discount Tire — East Plano.” Hyper-local terms such as neighborhoods or cross streets may help emphasize even more a business’s relationship to its local community.

3. Respond Directly To “Near Me” Searches

In the past year alone, the number of searches for businesses using the search term “nearby” or “near me” doubled, with the vast majority (80 percent) on mobile.

In response, this year Google launched a new mobile ad format that shows up when users search for businesses “nearby” or “near me.” The ads are triggered by location extensions in AdWords when a search is performed “near me” and it matches a radius and location bid defined by the business. The ads display location, a link to directions and a click-to-call button.

near me google ad

These ads take advantage of consumers performing searches on the go who are ready to buy. Compared to last year, there has been a 25-percent increase in consumers who look for local information while they are out, away from home or work, according to LSA and Thrive Analytics’ 2015 Local Search Report. Today, a majority of searches for local information on mobile phones (52 percent) occur while consumers are either in the car or away from home or work.

Local businesses must reach consumers on the go and utilize location-based mobile marketing strategies such as these “near me” geo-targeted ads that get consumers to call.

4. Provide Only One Response Option: Call The Business

In today’s “data overload” society, a common problem is TMI — too much information. We face too many decisions which impact our ability to make other decisions. Leaders such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg famously wear the same dark t-shirt and jeans outfit to avoid spending unnecessary energy on deciding what to wear, instead focusing on important decisions only. The phenomenon has been defined as “decision fatigue.”

Providing consumers with simple, singular calls to action helps sidestep any hesitation on making yet another decision about how to contact a business. Ads that only provide one option — a phone call — cut through the clutter, potentially driving higher engagement with the ad. And mobile, with its limited screen space, small ads and on-the-go audience, is perfect for driving conversions with an immediate response.

DialogTech provides the following tips from its Click-to-Call Playbook when using call-only ads:

  • Different keywords drive different types of actions. Make sure you bid only those keywords that have historically driven calls, as opposed to other actions.
  • Make clear the action to be taken is a call, using ad text such as “Call now!” or “Talk to a consultant” or “Call 24/7.”
  • Make sure keywords and ad text drive the right kinds of calls, such as new customer or new business calls, as opposed to customer service or general information calls so you can optimize those bids.
  • Don’t make the mistake of running call-only ads outside of business hours or when phones are not manned.

5. Know Where Your Calls Are Coming From

Failing to attribute calls from mobile ads means you can’t optimize your spending, since you don’t know where those calls came from or accurately determine which ads drove the calls, leads and revenue. Failing to attribute resulted in missing 49 percent of conversions, per DialogTech.

While tracking your calls may seem like an obvious strategy, according to the Local Search Association and Thrive Analytics 2015 SMB Outlook report, only 10 percent of SMBs use call tracking, a decrease from 16 percent in 2014.

Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) is a technology that replaces selected phone numbers in digital media with unique phone numbers for each platform, media source or ad, so that calls can be tracked back to the source that generated the call-in lead.

Credit: Telmetrics

Credit: Telmetrics

Telmetrics reports that DNI helped increase call attribution by as much as 37 percent, enabling marketers to accomplish the following:

  • Understand pre-call consumer behavior that stimulates calls.
  • Determine what marketing sources generate the most calls.
  • Optimize ad spend to drive more calls.
  • Measure the quality of leads by combining attribution with other call data.
  • Acquire a much deeper analysis of mobile ad performance.

6. Measure Rich Data Unique To Calls

Don’t use the same measurements used to evaluate clicks or other actions for phone calls. Doing so misses out on data that can tell you so much more about the quality of the call and the person making the call.

Instead, track and measure the following data points:

  • Marketing source, e.g., search engine, keyword, ad/campaign, landing page, call-only ad, call extension
  • Caller data, e.g., phone number, location, date/time of call, Android/iOS
  • Type of call, e.g., service, sales or misdial
  • Outcome of call, e.g., duration of call, complaint resolved, information provided, sale made, follow-up needed
  • Call-specific data that can help optimize where, when or to whom your ads should be targeted. This includes:
    • Call location
    • Date/time
    • Keywords, platforms, search engines

Tracking this data helps optimize ads that drive calls, such as increasing bids for those high-converting targets and eliminating keywords that did not lead to phone leads. This helps increase efficiency in allocating resources, reduces costs and boosts call volume.


Mobile marketing strategies are too often copied and pasted from past PC campaigns. Yet even mobile campaigns may have different goals that are best optimized for narrower reach or lead type. Mobile or PC strategies meant to drive clicks can result in poor performance when calls are the desired or preferable lead type.

Both the volume and quality of leads can be boosted by customizing marketing and search advertising to optimize them for calls. A common mistake is using the same keywords, copy, targeting and bids for advertising across all media and campaigns. Also, marketing is often not optimized due to a failure to track metrics relevant to the campaign; phone calls have unique analytics that can help improve efficiency and ROI for campaigns meant to get customers calling.

Develop a plan specifically to generate phone calls from mobile devices, and perhaps your new problem will be that your phone won’t stop ringing.

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