Will ‘Click-to-Call’ Drive More SMBs into AdWords?

Most US small businesses don’t do search advertising and those that do typically are doing it because somebody sold it to them. But Google’s success with mobile Click to Call advertising suggests that it may have a winner that drives greater penetration among certain categories of SMBs.

The company introduced Click to Call ads (mobile only) for search a number of months ago and just this week is rolling out Click to Call for the (mobile) content network (i.e., display ads). Tapping a phone icon in the ad initiates the call:

By contrast, here’s what the search version of Click to Call looks like:

After I spoke with Google about the program’s expansion earlier this week, I received two testimonials: one featuring the insurance company Progressive and one featuring a sandwich shop:

“Click to Call rocks! People who call Jimmy John’s are in a hurry and they want food fast. The ‘Click to Call’ option enables my customer to get the number fast, get the call made fast, and get their sandwich order in fast and get the sandwich delivery even faster. ‘Click to Call’ is the best new tool we have used,use it, it works! Rock on Google. Thanks, Jimmy John“— Jimmy John (Founder, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches)

No ordinary local sandwich shop Jimmy John’s is a franchise-based business. However, some SMBs that are experimenting with AdWords or are now using an agency might dispense with PC-based clicks and just try and buy calls in Google’s mobile search or the content network. I haven’t seen any of the SMB local marketing channels or platforms formally “productize” this program but I would imagine some will.

As with all calls-programs there are the “are you open?” and “where are you located?” type calls; however the cost of these calls is still low relative to other formal PPCall programs — although climbing somewhat according to Google. And in a somewhat ironic reversal, I’m guessing that those borderline calls will probably be minimized on the content network. That’s because, unless it’s an inadvertent click/call (which probably would be ended), the person calling would have a genuine interest in the product or service and thus would qualify as a bona fide prospect.

In a search context someone might simply be doing a business lookup and already planning to “come on down.” We can debate whether those are still good calls to receive of course.

As a final note, Google told me it does not use tracking numbers in the program. It captures the click that initiates the call but business owners or locations specify the numbers they want, which of course could always be call-tracking numbers if desired.

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