Five months after introducing Call Metrics, Google has started charging for calls placed to these tracking numbers. According to Greg Sterling, in a recent Screenwerk blog post:
“It must be the case that AdWords Call Metrics is wildly successful and lots of marketers are using it. Otherwise I don’t think that Google would so quickly be imposing fees.”
Sterling offers details on how Google’s pricing model works:
High-end mobile device click-to-call = Standard ad click rate
On smartphones, such as iPhones, Androids and Blackberrys, phone numbers in Google search results show up as click-to-call links, where the searcher can simply click on the phone number and the smartphone will automatically place the call. In this case, Google charges the same amount as it would if someone clicked on your ad to visit your web page.
Laptop or desktop computer = $1 per completed call
For those searchers that are using a laptop or desktop computer, Google charges a flat $1 fee for every completed, or answered, call to a Call Metrics tracking number.
Sterling asks, “How does this rate card compare to other call tracking vendors?” The answer is, it doesn’t.
Google is charging on a cost-per-action basis. This differs from most call tracking vendors, which charge on a per number, per minute basis.
The issue with the cost-per-action model is that Google is essentially charging advertisers under the assumption that all calls are leads, which may not always be the case. For example, a searcher may simply be calling for directions or hours of operation.
When call tracking solutions offer cost-per-action models, there are typically metrics in place — defined by the client, such as call length — to alert the software when a call should be considered a conversion, and thus charged accordingly.
Why Use Google Call Metrics?
As we wrote back in March, Google Call Metrics is a great way to evaluate your call tracking needs, and this continues to be true. However, with Google charging for these incoming calls, it is more important to closely monitor your campaign performance to ensure that you are maximizing ad budget. It is also important to understand when a more robust call tracking solution may be necessary.
Following are two items to closely monitor and evaluate during your Call Metrics campaign:
What types of calls are coming in?
Pay close attention to the types of calls resulting from your PPC campaigns. To do this, you need to set up a way to isolate and notate the type of calls that come in via Call Metrics. One way to do this is to assign an internal phone number so that it only receives calls forwarded from Call Metrics. Next, instruct your internal team to note if calls to this line are general inquires or result in new leads.
If there is an abundance of calls simply asking for directions, hours of operation, if so-and-so is working, or wrong numbers, reconsider Call Metrics.
Each of these calls, which likely won’t result in a lead, is eating up your PPC budget and limiting your campaign’s ability to reach more qualified audiences.
How many calls are coming in?
Consistent call volume is a strong indication that your target audiences are more inclined to pick up the phone rather than complete an online form. This likely extends beyond PPC to other marketing initiatives, such as organic search, offline advertising and email newsletters.
If this is the case, you may want to consider integrating a more robust call tracking solution to effectively track offline conversions that result from all marketing activities. Compare call tracking vendors to see which solution is a fit for your needs.
A complete lead conversion picture provided by the integration of web analytics and call tracking solutions enable you effectively evaluate campaign performance, evolve marketing activities and reallocate budgets to maximize lead quality, volume and overall ROI.
Are you using Call Metrics? What do you think of their new pricing?