Call-only ads are a Google Ads feature that has seen a recent surge in popularity since its release in 2015. Call-only ads have a distinct format — their primary purpose is to motivate potential customers to call your business, which distinguishes them from traditional text ads.

Since prospects are calling the company directly instead of visiting a website or landing page, there’s a greater chance of moving prospects further down the sales funnel. At the same time, writing successful call-only ads that actually work is no easy task. That’s why we’re sharing some simple steps that companies can take to write successful call-only ads that win over prospects. 

What is a call-only ad?

A call-only ad appears only on mobile devices and lets viewers place a call when they click on it. While traditional ads direct the prospect to a webpage, call-only ads can (as the name indicates) only make calls. This means that instead of being directed to a destination URL, viewers are given a destination phone number when they click the ad, and can then opt to make a call directly from the ad. 

Call-only ads are highly streamlined, and include only the company’s name, a short description, a phone number, and a ‘Call Now’ button. And like pay-per-click ads, businesses are only charged when someone clicks on the ad and makes a call. Instead of bidding on keyword clicks with PPC ads, advertisers instead bid on keyword-driven calls with call-only ads.

Generally, companies whose KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are phone calls — such as service industries — will see the most success from call-only ads. There are niche use cases, but if a company is not looking to drive calls (an eCommerce site with limited support staff, for example), then call-only ads probably aren’t a good fit.

Any company that does business over the phone can benefit from a call-only ad campaign. However, call-only ads tend to work best for specific industries that rely heavily on phone calls, such as the insurance and financial service industries, as well as service providers such as plumbers, electricians, and landscapers. They can also be beneficial for small businesses, since the ads can be targeted by location. In addition, call-only campaigns work especially well when potential customers have an urgent need for a service and are ready to take action. 

One of the biggest benefits of launching a call-only campaign is the option to bid on ‘calls’ vs ‘clicks.’ Historically, advertisers would use Google Ads and figure out a profitable cost per click based on website conversion rates and lifetime customer value, or average order value or cart size. But with call-only ads, if an advertiser knows that roughly 1 in 10 prospects calling is going to purchase, they can reverse-engineer that data to figure out what a profitable cost-per-call is for their business.

How to write successful call-only ads

Getting started with call-only campaigns is a relatively straightforward process. To begin, your company just needs a call-only ad strategy, call tracking software to record the calls, and a trained staff to answer the calls. If you have these three components, you have all you need to set up your first call-only ad campaign. 

However, creating a successful call-only ad is a multi-stage process that can be broken down into the following steps:

Step 1) Do your research and make a plan 

For your call-only ads to be successful, it’s essential to conduct research ahead of time and to develop a call-only ad campaign strategy. 

Begin by picking an ad group where your core KPI involves phone calls. Listen to the calls you’re currently receiving, and consider the following questions:

  • What are customers asking? What kinds of questions do your customers have about your company and the services you provide? Do the same questions keep coming up over and over again? If certain questions keep coming up, make a note of them and consider addressing them in your ad copy.
  • What are your reps are saying that closes customers? Review calls that resulted in conversions and consider if there are certain things your sales reps say that help win over customers. If you see a pattern, make a note of the statements that resonate with customers and convince them to buy or use your service. Then, try to incorporate some of these statements into your copy, and see if it boosts your conversion rate. 

Next, you should take successful elements from other ads in your campaigns and incorporate them into your call-only ads. Writing compelling ad copy is an iterative process, so be sure to leverage past successes in order to continue improving your results.

It’s also very important to define your success metrics when developing your call-only ad strategy, and to be clear about what success looks like to your company. Success metrics can include a number of different factors, including:

  • Number of calls: The number of calls you get from the ad can be a measure of your ad’s success. That said, your call-only ad is not necessarily successful based on call volume alone, so be sure to take other factors into consideration.
  • Call length: You should also consider how long the calls are. Longer calls tend to result in better leads, so you can set a minimum call length as another success metric.
  • Number of conversions: An extremely important question is how many calls lead to a sale? It’s not only the quantity of calls that count, but also the quality. One ad might result in 100 calls that only have a 9 percent conversion rate, while another ad might bring in 10 calls that closed 90 percent of the time.
  • Cost per call and earnings per call: Another factor to consider is how much you spend compared to how much you earn. Just like a traditional ad, you want to monitor your ROAS (return on ad spend) for these campaigns.

Step 2) Put your ads out there 

Once you’ve done your research and developed your strategy, the next step is to design and launch your call-only ads. It’s important to keep in mind that for call-only ads, your ad copy is the only thing a prospect sees before acting, so it needs to be compelling enough to cause your target audience to act. Here are some essential tips to follow when writing your ad copy:

  • Include the keyword from your ad group in the ad copy: Your target keyword is what your target client is researching on Google, so it should appear in your ad.
  • Tailor the ad to your local audience: Call-only ads are often used by companies whose target customers are located nearby.  If you are trying to attract a local audience, design an ad that is relevant to their specific needs. 
  • Keep it concise: Make sure your ad copy is highly targeted and concise. This is especially important because space is so limited with call-only ads. Since you only have 2 lines with 35 characters each, every word needs to count.
  • Include a call-to-action (CTA): Like with any other ad, be sure to include a CTA that motivates your target audience to call you. 

Once you’ve written your compelling copy and designed your ad, you can go ahead and set up your call-only campaign in Google Ads.

Step 3) Put your ads to the test 

Now that your ads have been published, it’s time to find out if they’re  actually effective. Remember that when it comes to evaluating your ad performance, nothing can replace doing your own testing. Once your campaign has run for a set period of time, you can begin evaluating your results.

Call tracking software is an essential tool for helping you test your call-only ads. When testing and evaluating your ads, remember that success doesn’t necessarily depend on the quantity of calls but the quality — running call tracking software helps you to evaluate the quality of your calls, and to determine how many callers are converting into customers.

Additionally, you can measure revenue from different kinds of calls by analyzing your call data. You might find that when certain key phrases are mentioned, the customer onboards easier, or the average order size is higher. You can then leverage this data to shape what decisions you’re making in your campaigns moving forward.

You’ll also need to monitor standard metrics to ensure the ads are performing to account standards. Focus on: 

  • Percentage served: This category refers to how many people actually saw your ad, and helps you determine your campaign’s reach.
  • Conversions and conversion rate: Pay close attention to your conversion rates. In many cases, call-only ads generate fewer conversions than online ads, but have a much higher return.
  • Total cost: Google Ads also includes information on cost-per-call (CPC) and the total cost of your campaign. Typically, call-only ads generate fewer clicks than online display ads, resulting in higher CPCs. Still, the total cost for your campaign may be less than other types of ad campaigns.

Another important part of this process is running A/B tests on your ad copy. Try to develop several different versions of your ad copy, and then run A/B tests to see which perform best and drives your target audience to pick up the phone.

Step 4) Revise and repeat the process

After testing your ad and determining how successful it was, it’s time for you to start over. Digital advertising is an ever-iterative process, and your successes in your first campaign should inform how you approach the next one, and so forth.

As you analyze your results, be sure to look for areas where you can improve. For instance, is your copy motivating people to actually click on your ad? If it’s not performing well, you might tweak the copy to be more engaging, or use more relevant keywords and search terms. Or if you’re getting calls but they aren’t converting, listen to the calls to make sure they’re being handled properly OR re-evaluate your targeting to confirm you’re getting calls from the right kind of prospect.

By following these steps, you can create effective call-only ads that motivate prospective customers to call and make a purchase.  And always keep in mind that writing successful call-only ads is an iterative process that never stops — even if you have ads that perform well, you should always strive to improve and set the bar even higher to bring in more calls and win over more customers.