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By Brendan Almack on 25 Feb 2016

Google AdWords call only campaigns give the user one option, and one option only: call the business. When this AdWords innovation was announced, the potential for 100% conversion rates was super exciting. The question we were all asking was: ‘Does this mean click to call campaigns are dead?’ Naturally, we wanted to carry out a test to establish the merits of both call only campaigns and click to call campaigns and what we found was that the click to call campaign is far from dead. 



Call Only Campaigns

Hi, everyone. I'm Brendan, and today I'm going to talk to you about call only campaigns. So call only campaigns are a Google AdWords ad format that allow the user to call you directly from the paid search ad on a mobile device. Now, they are not to be confused with click to call. You might be familiar with click to call. With click to call you're given a little icon and you actually have the option: the user can click on your ad and be brought through to your website or they can call you by clicking on the little phone icon. With call only campaigns, the user only has one option, they have to call you. 

The Hype Curve

So our journey with call only campaigns at Wolfgang Digital followed a very similar trajectory to that of the hype curve. I don't know if you're familiar with the hype curve? I'll just briefly explain it to you. So the Gartner hype curve allows us to effectively estimate when an emerging technology will become mainstream. So on the horizontal axis, you can see there's time and on the vertical axis you've got expectation of that technology. So each technology goes through different stages of its lifetime. So it might start off with a trigger, then you've got the peak of inflated expectation, followed by the trough of disillusionment. And then as time moves on, you move towards the slope of enlightenment, then what we call the plateau of productivity. Now, for example, within the peak of inflated expectations you might say that's where big data sits. And within the trough of disillusionment, maybe that's where virtual reality sits. And then mainstream technologies that have now been adopted are things like speech recognition, which is pretty much mainstream and used throughout the world.

The Peak Of Inflated Expectation

So for us, with call only campaigns, our journey very much started at the peak of inflated expectation. And the reason for that was we thought call only campaigns were going to be great. We've a lot of clients that generate a lot of business over the phone. And here we have a campaign format that allows the user, irrespective of what they do with the ads, to call through to our clients. So we thought, "This is amazing. We're going to have a 100% conversion rate." And we got really excited that we're going to be able to generate this many conversions from this kind of campaign format. But we're digital marketing scientists, so we decided we'd test it. And we tested it using another Google AdWords innovation called Google Forwarding Numbers.

Google Forwarding Numbers

Google Forwarding Numbers essentially allow you to track calls, and you can see other interesting metrics like the length of the call etc. So we overlaid Google Forwarding Numbers with call only campaigns. And we did that in order to estimate exactly how many people were proceeding with the call. And it wasn't a 100%, it was a lot lower actually. It was only 4% of people who were prompted to call proceeded to make that call. So that's a pretty low number. But let's put that into the context of a typical website enquiry conversion rate, and it's not actually that bad. But anyway, our journey then moved from the peak of inflated expectation very quickly to the trough of disillusionment. But as time progressed, we've moved on since then. Because we actually created the same text for click to call. And what we found there was very interesting. We found out that 80% to 90% of users that clicked on click-to-call proceeded to make the call. So that's a really important number and a really great way to get people to call through to your business.


One of the learnings we took from this analysis was that users want the option. Users sometimes want to visit your website and learn a little bit more about you, or they want to be happy to make the call. But they want the option. They don't want to be pigeon-holed into having to call you, for example. So we're sticking with click-to-call for the time being.

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