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Google’s Click-to-Message: Everything You Need to Know

Click-to-message for AdWords and Google My Buisness is an easy, effective way to step up your SMS marketing efforts. Here's how to get it set up.

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What is Google’s Click-to-Message?

Back in October of 2016, Google announced it was rolling out a helpful SMS marketing tool for the AdWords platform that had previously been in beta testing—the click-to-message extension, available to anyone marketing on AdWords.

Click-to-message (often referred to as click-to-text) is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. As with its older sibling, the call extension, it allows any user viewing your mobile ad to simply tap the screen to initiate a conversation. The user’s mobile device automatically launches the default SMS app, with your number pre-filled.

When you set up click-to-message, you’ll also have the option to include a pre-written message that pops up in the texting app—users can either send the text message as you’ve prepared it, or they can edit as they see fit.

Two smartphones displaying click-to-message features

This is just one of many updates from Google that make it clear mobile search is increasingly popular (and not to mention important to their algorithm). They launched mobile PPC ads and a mobile site tester as well. For your business to remain competitive, it needs to adopt mobile-friendly technology like click-to-message.

Why Use Click-to-Message?

Click-to-message gives all those potential new customers out there yet another convenient way to talk to you. But more importantly, it hardwires the efficiency, simplicity, and widespread adoption of text messaging right into the AdWords platform. People who prefer texting, don’t like making calls, or simply don’t have time to call can now reach out to you in a way that’s comfortable and accommodates busy schedules.

Before launching click-to-message, Google conducted a survey of over 2,000 smartphone owners. They found that 65% of consumers say they’d consider using messaging to connect with a business to get information about a product or service, or to schedule an in-person appointment.

It’s clear that click-to-message has the potential to adds a lot of value, but does it really work in practice? Yes. Take a look at what some of the beta users had to say in Google’s blog announcement:

It’s a seamless and streamlined process that helps increase brand trust. The conversion rate on message extensions is 41% higher compared to other ad extensions.

– Gabe Thayn, Director of Search Marketing, TravelPASS Group

The results from click-to-message have been phenomenal and we’ve seen a 80% higher conversion rate when compared to other similar channels.

– Gavin Parker, Paid Search Manager, Auto & General

Sometimes customers don’t have time to talk over a web chat or phone conversation, but still need more information. Messaging helps simplify these exchanges and the customer response has been very positive since they can post a question and follow up in their own time.

– Ashar Mairaj, VP of Marketing, Global Industrial

Do You Need to Use Adwords to Use Click-to-Message?

Not necessarily. While PPC ads may be an effective way to find customers searching for your service, click-to-message is worth setting up even if you don’t do paid advertising. Here’s how to add it to your Google My Business Listing:

Login to your Google My Business page, then select messaging in the left-hand menu. Click add phone number and—you guessed it—enter your number. Verify the number using the code Google texted you. And that it’s! Now customers just have to click the “Message” button on your listing to send you a text.

How to Set Up Click-to-Message in AdWords

Click-to-message is super simple to set up for paid search ads, too. Once you’re logged in to your AdWords account, click on Campaigns and select the campaign or ad group you’d like to use message extensions with. Then select the Ad extensions tab and locate Message extensions in the View drop-down menu.

Screenshot of AdWords click-to-message setup

From there it’s a simple matter of clicking that big red +Extension button. After doing so, you’ll need to scroll down on the next screen to find the +New message extension option.

Screenshot of AdWords click-to-message setup 2

Finally, fill out your Business name, Text phone number, Extension text (your CTA), and Message text (what gets pre-filled in the user’s SMS app).

Screenshot of AdWords click-to-message setup 3

If you expand the Advanced setting, you’ll also see options for tweaking the extension with your own custom scheduling. Click Save, and your extension is ready to go!

As with other AdWords extensions, this one doesn’t cost anything extra to use. However, you should still review Google’s best practices guide for message extensions, as it includes a number of helpful recommendations for getting started.

Right now, AdWords requires users to enter a 10-digit phone number that can receive texts—there’s no shortcode functionality enabled at this time. But we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for updates down the line.

Measuring the Success of Click-to-Message

Google’s click-to-message extension has been out for a few years now. And it appears they’re going to continue to expand upon this feature. In March of 2018, Google launched new performance insights to help advertisers measure the success of their click-to-message ads.

These are some metrics you should look at when optimizing, and determining the success of, your click-to-message ads:

Chat Rate
Think of this as the CTR of your click-to-message ads. All it how often users start a conversation with you after seeing your message extension. In other words, the number of chats divided by the number of impressions.

Chat Start Time
Use this insight to determine when your audience is initiating chats. For example, if you see most of your conversations with customers have a time stamp between noon and 2 p.m., you may want to schedule more support agents during that time.

This is the total number of messages sent between you and a user in one chat. If you’re testing several campaigns, this metric can be helpful in figuring out which CTA is driving the longest conversations.

Tips for Texting Your Customers

If Google’s click-to-message is your first introduction to using SMS to engage your customers, there are some helpful do’s and don’ts you will want to follow. We have a complete guide to SMS marketing best practices, but here are some highlights:

Use a Business Texting Platform
While you can use a personal number for click-to-message, it isn’t advisable. With a business texting platform like SimpleTexting, you’ll have an easy time keeping up with conversations thanks to helpful features like scheduled texts, push notifications, templates, conversation filtering, and more.

Reply Quickly
When a customer reaches out by text, it’s because they want an answer to their question right away. Make sure your team is ready to dedicate the resources necessary to be responsive. This is important not only to keep your customers happy, but it is necessary if you want to maintain a reputation as a customer-service-centric business. Why? Because Google displays your average response time on your listing.

Request Feedback and Reviews
Low open rates and click-through rates make it difficult to get adequate customer feedback using traditional channels like email. And phone call questionnaires are much too intrusive. Texting, on the other hand, has a significantly higher open and CTR and is perceived as personal and convenient. Once you’ve resolved a customer’s issue or answered their question, ask them for feedback by sending a link to an online form.

Ask If They’d Like to Receive Promotions
Just because your customer texts you for information, doesn’t mean they want to hear from you in the future. In the world of SMS marketing, there’s an important distinction between promotional and transactional text messages. Before you close a chat, however, you can ask your customer if they’d like to receive offers from you in the future. Just be sure to include the disclaimers and terms and conditions of your texting program. If they say yes, this would constitute the express consent necessary to add someone to your subscriber list.

Don’t Send Sensitive Info
Texting isn’t HIPAA compliant, nor is it the right place to share sensitive information such as passwords or credit card info. (This article offers more information on HIPAA compliant texting.)

If your conversation with a customer requires the exchange of this kind of protected data, jump on to a phone call instead. With SimpleTexting, you can text-enable your existing number meaning you can text and call on the same line!

Thousands of businesses are benefitting from click-to-message. Discover how easy it is to find qualified leads and connect with customers using SMS. Sign up for a 14-day free trial of SimpleTexting today!


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