For many local businesses (particularly those using PPC to drive leads instead of online sales) a phone call can be more valuable than an on-site conversion. While having a prospect complete a form fill on a landing page certainly doesn’t hurt, it simply cannot compare to the immediacy of them picking up a phone and speaking to a potential problem solver instantly.
“Why?” you might ask.
Because you can’t make call-only ads on Bing.
Now, technically, you can add call extensions to your text ads, serve them on mobile devices, and give prospects a direct line to your direct line. But you can’t create one of these suckers:
And that, compadre, is a problem. Well, it was a problem.
This morning, my dear friend/WordStream Paid Search Strategist Casey Palm told me about the technique he uses to create true “call-only” ads in Bing. I dug it so much that, with his blessing, I decided to share Casey’s dope hack with you all.
Per our own Mark Irvine, this was a popular hack advertisers implemented on AdWords pre-2015, before call-only campaigns were launched. And while it won't guarentee your clandestine call-only ads will show 100% of the time, I'll show you how to do your damnedest to make 'em appear.
The Problem with Bing Call Extensions
They’re awesome (Bing says they help advertisers generate 3-6% more clicks). Yes, they let prospects call you with a single click from the SERP. Yes, you can choose to use call forwarding or your own phone number. But that’s not enough.
While Bing affords you the ability to add call extensions to your ads on desktops, tablets, and smartphones (your prospects can even call you via Skype using the former), the number itself is ancillary to the rest of your ad copy. Whereas on AdWords, your phone number replaces an entire headline…
Bing pushes your phone number (and, therefore, the option to call) beneath your copy—even if you check the “show just the phone number” radio button in the call extension creation menu:
You’re also at Bing’s mercy when it comes to your ad extensions surfacing alongside your ad. If you’re running a campaign in which you’ve also got image, callout, review, and sitelink extensions, the ability to give your business a call is a roll of the dice.
You don’t just have to take my word for it. Many advertisers have noted this frustration. Search “Bing call only ads”:
Click into that first link on the SERP and you’ll find a whole slew of comments that parallel this general sentiment:
While Mr. TJN may be using a dash of hyperbole, he’s not wrong: some advertisers derive a ton of value from phone calls, and they’d spend more money on Bing if creating ads that connect business with prospects and only show up on mobile devices was more intuitive.
With that said, let’s dive into how you can create call-only ads in your Bing account.
Creating Bing Call-Only Ads
We’re going to begin by creating a brand-new campaign. Why? Because this will allow you to place a premium on both locality and which extensions appear. If you load up your Bing ads call-only campaign with snippets and images and whirligigs, your call extension-turned star of the show isn’t going to show up.
From the campaign creation screen, when prompted to select a goal, choose “Phone calls to my business.”
Per the neat little bubble that pops up when you click the accompanying question mark, you should select this campaign goal if “you want to drive new phone calls to one or more of your business numbers.” Sold.
Next up, it’s time to name your campaign, assign a budget, and, most importantly, define your new call-only campaign’s geographic parameters. While the naming convention should align with the rest of your account (save the ever-important “call-only” distinction”), you should note that skimping on the budget here isn’t going to do you any good. To ensure that your ads are served in the prime positions at the top of mobile SERPs, which offer limited real estate, you’ll need to ensure that you’re:
- Bidding on keywords that represent actual business value
- Maximizing your Quality Scores
- Budgeting accordingly
This will allow you to mitigate some of the costs associated with appearing in position one and receiving enough impressions to optimize your campaign through testing while you’re keeping the lights on with valuable phone calls. Now, back to location…
If you’re a small, local business in search of leads (the sorts of folks call-only ads really do wonders for), you want to make sure that your campaign’s location parameters align with the areas you service. Let’s say you’re a plumber who services the greater Boston area; you’d want to target a radius around the city…
Instead of the entire state of Massachusetts. Makes sense, right?
Below the Locations box and corresponding map, you’ll notice another section labeled “Who?” Here, you’re going to want to select the first box instead of the second. Someone in Saskatchewan searching for “plumbers in Boston” is inherently less valuable to you than someone in Quincy doing the same thing; let our Canadian brethren click on your regular search ads and save your call-only ads for locals in need of immediate assistance.
Up next, you’ve got ad group creation. Since you’re looking for advanced workarounds baked into Bing, I’m assuming this ain’t your first rodeo. Any and all best practices that you adhere to in the rest of your account— single keyword ad groups (SKAGs), tiered bidding, pairing very similar keywords—apply here, too.
Now, I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but, for the sake of effectively utilizing your ad spend, don’t go dumping bunch of garbage keywords into your call-only campaign. While you might see conversions (form fills) pull through your standards search campaigns on keywords like “snake my pipes,” you need to really consider both immediacy and search intent here.
Since you’re going to be bidding a little more to ensure your call-only ads serve on the mobile devices of local searchers, be sure to build tightly-knit ad groups of high-intent keywords (like you see above). Once you’ve got a handful (3-4 keywords with multiple match types should do the trick), create as many extra ad groups for your campaign as you need by clicking on the “+Add new ad group” button.
Now for the fun part.
On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to create ads and, more importantly for our purposes, ad extensions. Your ad copy should follow best practices (shocker). By leveraging an ad group’s associated keywords in your ad copy when possible and including an irresistible CTA, you’ll bolster your Quality Scores, which will help mitigate those high(er) bids.
While there’ll be a whole mess of ad extensions listed at the bottom of this interface, the call extensions box will be primed and ready to go because you selected that “Phone calls for my business” campaign goal.
At the bottom of call extension creation box, click the blue text that says “+ Add new Call Extension.” This’ll open a shiny new interface:
Pay close attention to all that red in the image above: it’s your roadmap to success.
Enter your phone number into the box at the top. Under the “Call Tracking” section, it’s totally up to you whether you choose to use a Bing Ads forwarding number or have your own (smartphone) number displayed alongside your ad. Directly below “Call Tracking” you’ll see a radio button under the “Mobile Format” section that says, “Show just the phone number.” SELECT THIS OPTION!
Since we’re going to eliminate desktop and tablet placements in just a moment, making “Mobile Format” the only format, choosing “Show just the phone number” will ensure that your prospects speak to you instead of completing a form fill on your website. Before you click “Save,” don’t forget to adjust your ad schedule. If you’re only open from 9am-5pm Monday thru Friday, there’s no sense running call-only ads in the dead of night or while you’re trying to watch the Pats on Sunday afternoon.
Once you’ve saved your call extension, open the “Advanced campaign settings” menu at the bottom of the Bing Ads interface.
Within the “Device” submenu, decrease bids on desktop and tablet by 100%. This will ensure that your ads don’t show up, funneling all available impressions to mobile devices (where prospects can ring you up).
How to Create Call-Only Ads in Bing (TL;DR)
- Create a new Bing Ads campaign using “Phone calls to my business” as your campaign goal.
- Narrow your targeting to include only prospects in your area.
- Create tightly-knit ad groups of high-intent keywords.
- Write great ads.
- When creating your call extension, select the “Show just the phone number” option and establish an ad schedule.
- Decrease desktop and tablet bids by 100%.
At some point, Bing will probably add call-only ads to their ever-growing suite of tools to help advertisers reach prospects. Until then, the workaround outlined above is a relatively easy way to incite more (and more affordable, at least compared to AdWords) phone calls from prospects desperately looking to scratch an itch.
About the Author
Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan.