A smart phone in every purse/pocket = easy internet search for local businesses = a whole lot more calls to local businesses. Market research firm BIA/Kelsey predicts that those calls will have more than doubled between 2013 and 2018. The good news: Customers who call are usually ready to buy. The challenge: No patience. Customers expect to find and call your number immediately or they move on to a competitor.
To get your fair share of the ringy-dingy’s from mobile and desktop computer search, try these eight steps:
1. Display your phone number prominently on your site
Splash it across the top of every page or in a box at the upper right. Include a call to action–“Call Now”, “Call for Free Estimate”—to give a sense of urgency and value.
2. Create a Contact Us page or form.
Some folks reflexively look for that Contact Us tab or link on a site so provide them with a page they can click to find your phone number, location and other details. Alternatively, you can add a little phone icon to every page that launches a call-us-back form; users fill in their number and the nature of their request and you get a message to call them.
3. Add a landing page for each location.
If you have branches serving different areas, create a separate page for each with a unique phone number. They’ll get picked up in Google search in addition to your home page. And make them local numbers – they assure customers that your local office is really part of the community.
4. Make sure the right number for your business appears around the web
Whether you know it or not, hundreds of directory sites list your business and may show a wrong number. Not only will you miss calls from potential clients, but Google does not look kindly on such inconsistency and may downgrade your ranking on its search pages as a result. A reputation management service can blow through all these sites on a find and correct mission.
5. Fill out Google My Business info – get in the Knowledge Panel
We’re talking about the box that Google pops out when somebody searches for your business by name or clicks on your name in a Google map display. Make sure the correct number displays by filling out your profile information on Google My Business, their free listings service.
6. Help search engines find your phone number
Besides the Knowledge Panel, search engines may display your number in the description of your business in search returns, viewed on a desktop computer and—most valuable—as a tap-to-call little phone icon on mobile. Talk to your website developer about the tweaks that make your phone number findable, as extra insurance that it will display in search. For instance, don’t display the number only as an image on the site; have it in text, too. Add the phone number to the site’s code following the Schema.org standard. Include the number in the meta-description, the text that Google may show on its search-return pages.
7. Pay for calls with ads on Google, Bing or Facebook
The surest way to dangle your phone number in front of customers on search pages is to pay for position at the top of search results. Google and Bing offer “call extensions”; you add your phone number to your ads as text for desktop computer display, and tap-to-call on mobile. With Google’s call-only ads for mobile, tapping the ad itself starts a phone call. Additionally, you can target ads so the phone number only displays during business hours or displays to mobile searchers who are near your place of business—ditto that feature for Facebook’s Call Now ads.
8. Refine your ad campaigns with call tracking
Which ads get the calls? Google can give you a forwarding number unique to your ad. When a customer dials the number (desktop) or taps to call (mobile), the call routes to your phone, Google logs it and can count any call of a certain duration as a “conversion”, the goal for the various automated bidding schemes run by Google AdWords. Or get the same service (plus other benefits) from a call tracking company.
Dex Media offers a complete package of marketing services for local businesses, including call tracking.