How much is a click worth? It depends on the business, the keyword, the season, the engine, the time of day and a host of other factors. We've built an amazing platform for anticipating that value.
How much is a call worth, instead?
That's the new question we and others need to tackle as Google rolls out its new bids for calls feature to desktop machines in AdWords. As Greg Sterling explains, participants must sign up for Google's call tracking, and Google chooses the phone numbers. Bidding will only be available at the AdGroup level and there are click volume and call volume minimum thresholds that must be met for the system to work. Call-Through Rates will be a factor in Quality Score for participating advertisers.
The questions raised here are fascinating!
- Will the calls be incremental, or would callers have clicked the ad absent the phone number?
- Will the people who call be closer to a purchase decision or further away from one, since they're seeking a human interaction?
- Will the conversion rate be higher for the people who call than it would have been for those same people had they clicked instead? If so, by how much?
- Will the quality of the calls generated by searchers who haven't even reached your site be as good as the average call quality to your call center?
This last question strikes me as particularly important. The cost of a visitor to your website is pretty close to zero. You might pay for the the click, but having one more visitor on your website costs you nothing. However, a call to the call center costs you real money. You have to pay for a sales person to talk for some period of time. If the quality of these calls is low, you have a problem. If the volume of these search ad calls is material there also may be opportunity costs associated with having sales people tied up talking to bozos, while more qualified calls wait in the queue and sometimes stop waiting.
This feature is certainly worth testing, but I'm skeptical of this one. Click to call didn't work well for many firms. Getting calls from folks who haven't even been to your website to know what you have strikes me as likely to frustrate phone sales reps and be a money loser all-in. The calls from folks who are already on your website are one thing, but I have my doubts about the quality of calls from folks off of a SERP.
I'm particularly dubious given the high traffic requirements. If you can only use this on relatively high-traffic head keywords that are often generating the lowest quality, least targeted traffic it compounds the problem. If it ends up only making sense for Brand searches, what's the point? Presumably your phone number is on your website as well, and wouldn't you rather have them look around first, before they call?
Love to hear the reaction of others to this!