Click-to-Call and the Big Data Gap

Content Takeover Mobile & Local SearchWe all know mobile traffic is increasing for everyone; Google says a full 50 percent of its traffic is now mobile. There’s also been astonishing growth in consumers’ use of the click-to-call feature of search advertising. Click-to-call is immensely useful; you can quickly check product availability and pricing or book an appointment for services. In 2013, Google reported that 70 percent of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results.

Marketers have responded to the growth in the use of click-to-call with increased spending. The Marchex Institute estimates that marketers spent more than $4 billion on mobile search ads in 2014 to drive phone calls.

But they may be spending on the wrong things. There’s a large gap in Google’s and Bing’s analytics that keeps marketers from understanding which of their campaigns are driving sales leads. You could call this a $4 billion blind spot.

To give marketers visibility into this huge marketing spend, Marchex has released Call Analytics for Search, an analytics platform that it says provides complete keyword attribution for all calls from paid search.

New Ad Experiences

While most analytics platforms were created to track from a click on an ad through to an online purchase, the rise of mobile has created new kinds of ad experiences, including the popular click-to-call ad extension, which cannot be tracked the same way.

There are two issues with existing click-to-call analytics, according to John Busby, senior vice president of consumer insights and marketing at Marchex: understanding which calls have commercial intent and identifying the actual keywords that lead to conversions.

“Different search keywords or phrases will deliver different types of phone calls,” says Busby, “while the lack of keyword attribution in click-to-call is one of the biggest blind spots that exist in mobile advertising today.”

Relying only on the data provided by Google or Bing, marketers must assume that every call with a duration of longer than two minutes is roughly the same. There’s no way to tell whether a particular two-minute call was with a prospect finding out more information prior to booking an appointment; someone with questions about a bill; or an existing customer who was put on hold.


“With call extension ads, you can no longer associate a specific sale with a specific keyword. You only know how many phone calls you got at the campaign level,” he says.

Below is a chart showing cost-per-call data for the top 10 keywords of a Fortune 100 advertiser that uses Marchex Call Analytics for Search:


The next chart overlays data showing the cost per sales inquiry by keyword. Says Busby, “If marketers are not taking into account which calls have true consumer intent, they are missing a major opportunity to optimize.”


Deeper Optimization

What’s most surprising about Marchex’s research, according to Busby, is how much advertisers can improve the ROI of their click-to-call campaigns when this information becomes visible. In tests of Marchex’s Call Analytics for Search tools, marketers improved the return on investment by as much as 50 percent.

He says that this information is especially important for highly competitive search terms, such as “insurance,” “cable television,” or “online MBA,” where clicks can cost as much as $50, and there are dozens of advertisers vying for top position.

It’s just as valuable for marketers to be able to jettison keywords that may have high click-through rates but are least likely to result in conversion. For example, through Call Analytics for Search, one customer was able to identify which keywords were mostly likely to result in customer-service calls, and which were most likely to result in higher hold times for a call.

“Sometimes, improving ROI is about finding which 30 percent of keywords are doing nothing for you and eliminating them from the campaign,” Busby says.

To find out more about how to maximize your mobile search click-to-call campaigns, read Marchex’s latest paper, “The $4 Billion Blind Spot: Why Search Marketers Need Keyword Attribution for Click-to-Call.”


*Sponsored content in collaboration with Marchex. Views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect Search Engine Watch’s opinions.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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