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AdWords’ New Website Call Conversions Seer’s Beta Experience

This week, Google introduced a new feature for AdWords — Website Call Conversions. Well, at least it’s new to most people. It’s actually been in super secret secret beta status since at least October 2013.

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(Image Credit)

And from what I hear, there was an even more alpha version of it before that. Needless to say, Google’s been trying to crack this nut for some time. I was fortunate enough to get two of my clients access to the beta, and so wanted to share my insights from our time together. As you’ll see in our test, we identified things to watch out for but the overall concept is great and worth further testing.

Secret Click Threshold

When the beta was pitched to us, we were told (much like in the current announcement) that a “unique forwarding number will be generated for each AdWords ad click.” When we were failing to trigger & observe the unique number, I was later told that there is indeed a click threshold that an ad group much reach in order to trigger the number generator.

It was disappointing to learn of this threshold, as one of the big things we were trying to prove with the beta was the conversion-driving value of keywords, regardless of volume.

No Follow-Through

This one is on me, in that I thought applying the coding to the phone numbers across the website would cause the generated tracking number to follow from the initial landing page, and continue through if a user browsed the rest of the site.

Unfortunately, it appeared as though the dynamic number generation only applied to the initial landing page. Following the user through the session throughout the website wasn’t part of the deal.

Unclear Reporting

From launch, I knew I’d need to request call report from my Google rep. Not a big deal. However, each time I requested it, I found that the data matched exactly what was in the dimensions tab for regular call metrics details. After weeks of back-and-forth, I was informed that AdWords was pulling the website calls into the dimensions tab along with the ad extension calls. Unfortunately, I couldn’t distinguish one type of call from another.

Unreliable Number Display

What caused my clients to opt out of the beta early was an issue that would cause no number to appear at all — even the backup number that should display when a phone number could not be pulled from the AdWords system.

At first it was a sporadic issue, but then it got to the point where a number would not display at all, every time we visited the landing page. Support for the beta was not readily available at the time, or at least could not figure out the cause. For a client that gets 80% of its conversions from phone calls, we couldn’t risk leaving the dynamic number code in place.

Overall, I realize the above experience seems pretty sour, but it was a beta. We knew going into it that it was subject to change and malfunction. What gives me hope is that Google brought this out of the darkness of super secret beta and into the light of a full release. I hope the kinks and growing pains we experienced early on helped to build a solid feature that I’m sure I will test again.

Did any of you readers get in on the initial beta? What were your impressions and experiences? Would/will you try out the full release now?