94% of consumers expect brands to offer click-to-call on search results

28/02/2014

Nearly 19 out of 20 (94%) of UK smartphone users have, at some point, needed to call a business directly when searching for information on a smartphone, according to a new poll conducted by Google.

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Of the 1,500 respondents surveyed, just under one third (32%) regularly need to call a business when searching for services or products on their smartphone.

The research, which was commissioned to understand the use of the click-to-call option in mobile search, found that almost half of those surveyed (42%) had used this function, with the need to talk to a real person stated as the main motivation. Wanting answers more quickly and needing more information than a website could provide were the other main reasons provided for using click-to-call. The average click-to-call conversation is six minutes, suggesting the option can lead to high level of engagement for companies.

Click-to-call is seen as most important for mobile searchers in the purchase phase. 48% find it extremely important to be able to call the business when they are about to make a purchase and 36% need it when researching an item or service.

The findings also suggest that businesses that do not offer the option risk damaging their brand image and could lose customers. 36% of mobile searchers indicated they would be more likely to explore other brands if click-to-call was not offered. 32% would feel frustrated or annoyed and 30% would be disappointed in the brand.

The business value is further highlighted through previous Google Adwords research, which found that the service increases average ad click-through rate by 8%.

Ian Carrington, Director of Performance Solutions & Innovation at Google, comments: “Globally, we know that 40 million calls are driven by Google Ads each month so it’s fair to say that click-to-call is a clear sales driver. Moreover, for businesses that haven’t yet built a responsive or mobile site, click-to-call is a great way to ensure consumers can still reach your business easily, showing that mobile advertising doesn’t just have to be for the mobile-ready.”

The research also compared behaviours across different verticals. It found that consumers use click-to-call across different sectors but are most likely to need the capability for local services (63%), automotive (42%) and tech (38%) businesses. Travel (36%) and hospitality (27%) followed.

Travel

Within the travel sector, click-to-call is most important during the purchase phase and over half would call a travel business to make changes to their reservation or booking. Mobile searchers are most likely to call when reserving a hire car (47%), when searching for hotels (37%) and when seeking flights (30%). According to the IAB Travel Audit 2013, 42% of the top 50 UK travel companies optimise their search results for mobile and, of those, 45% use click to call.

Case Study: sk:n

sk:n, the UK’s leading provider of non-surgical skin treatments, used click-to-call as part of an AdWords enhanced campaign, resulting in a 42% increase in calls. The business changed their mobile search result messaging to encourage consumers to make calls rather than visit the website. Results showed that click-to-call conversion rate was 26 times higher than that of the standard mobile campaign while the enquiry-to-consultation conversion rate for the click-to-call mobile campaign was 2.2 times higher compared to all search channels.

Sri Sharma, Managing Director of Net Media Planet, sk:n’s marketing agency, commented: “sk:n offers a range of services which address personal, sensitive topics. Mobile enables clients to research sensitive subjects at times and in places that are convenient to them on their terms. The majority of sk:n’s clients are busy working people who are on the go, and importantly, would prefer to speak to a consultant rather than fill in website forms. Mobile offers a way for clients to connect with sk:n at a time and place that is convenient to them.”
Myles Tippett, Digital Manager at sk:n adds: “A sound understanding of our business challenge combined with the latest mobile innovations has enabled us to better meet the needs of our clients and achieve outstanding results. As a result, mobile is now considered an essential lead channel for the business.”

About The Research

Google commissioned Ipsos, an independent market research company, to understand UK consumer attitudes about click-to-call within organic and paid mobile search results. The study explored behaviors within the context of 7 different verticals: Travel, Restaurant, Finance, Retail, Technology, Local Services and Auto.

1,500 respondents were surveyed between November 14 and November 25, 2013. Respondents:
• Were aged 18-74
• Were smartphone users who use mobile search multiple times per week
• Had made a purchase in at least one of the verticals in the past six months

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