In a pair of announcements this week Google announced both a new conversion metric (“Website call conversions“) and a new way to drive specific conversion types in your AdWords campaigns (“Conversions for optimization”). These are part of Google’s clear strategy to generate more data on results and use that data as a means to drive more traffic for advertisers.

Website call conversions

The continued rise of mobile web browsing has shifted the way we think about reaching  customers. If someone is already holding their phone when they see your ad or web site, it stands to reason that they’re more likely to give you a call. Google introduced call extensions for their ads back in November of 2010, but until now they only applied to customers who called you directly from your AdWords ads. This produced a reporting gap for any customer that chose to visit your web site before calling you. The same problem applied to ads that haven’t yet produced enough conversions to display a call extension.

Call Tracking Flow
If your small business doesn’t have third-party call tracking, you may be missing important conversion data.

To remedy this, Google now offers a code snippet that generates a call tracking number directly on your web site. The advantage is that you can now track those web site calls as conversions in your AdWords account. The disadvantage is that, as with call extensions on your ads, your actual business phone number will be obscured. If you have long term concerns about your customers saving Google’s call extension number rather than your business phone number, you should weigh the benefits of the additional data against those concerns.

In addition to providing you with more ad performance data, website call conversion tracking may work well in combination with the optimization feature Google announced this week.

Conversions for Optimization

I’ve posted about the use of flexible bid strategies to drive better results in the past, and Google’s new feature is an enhancement for that process. Everyone loves conversions, but some conversions are worth more than others. Optimizing for all conversions is a more broad approach than some might like, so Google now allows you to target a specific conversion type. For example, if your web site has a form to sign up for your newsletter as well as one to create an appointment, you might want to drive more traffic to the appointment form. The settings for the appointment conversion can now be set to “Optimization”, which will flag that conversion for consideration in your flexible bid strategy.

You’ll still see your full conversion data, but there will be an additional column indicating which of those conversions were used for optimization. This should allow you to easily monitor the success of your campaigns and select new strategies on the fly, which could be very helpful for things like seasonal campaigns or even landing page testing.