Recent research highlights the increasing importance of "click-to-call" functionality for smartphone users, especially within the travel sector.
The survey asked 1,500 people in the UK about their mobile search habits, and how often they use click-to-call to contact businesses via mobile search - and 94% of respondents have needed to call a business that they were searching for on their phones.
Of these 1,500 people, 32% reported regular use of click-to-call when researching services and products on mobile phones, with half of those surveyed having used the functionality.
As far as motivations for wanting to actually call a business, the need to talk to a real person was the primary reason, followed by expediency of getting questions answered and requiring additional information than available on the website as reasons for calling.
For mobile searchers, the ability to seamlessly call a business is especially important when purchasing a service or product, with 48% saying that it is "extremely important" to be able to call a business when about to complete a transaction and 36% needing it in the research stage.
Brands that don't offer the ability for a consumer to easily call them could also risk losing customers, as 36% of those searchers would be more likely to "explore other brands" when click-to-call is unavailable; 32% would "feel frustrated or annoyed" and 30% would be "disappointed in the brand."
While not a clear majority, there is still a potential loss here that seems to be far more damaging than the small cost associated with supporting the functionality, via both ads and increased support staff to ensure proper customer service on the other end of the call.
Responses showed that click-to-call was the most important during the purchase phase in the travel sector, with over half of respondents saying they would call a travel business to make changes to their reservation or booking.
When searching, 36% of respondents would check out other brands if click-to-call wasn't offered in the search results.
As far as likelihood of using click-to-call, 47% would use to reserve a car, 37% would search for a hotel and 30% would look for flights. This figure meshes with the IAB Travel Audit 2013, which determined that mobile-optimized search results were delivered by 42% of the top 50 UK travel companies, with 45% using click to call.
There's also the opportunity for increased engagement, as click-to-call offers a compelling opportunity for a brand to interface directly with customers: the average click-to-call conversation lasts six minutes.
The addition of click-to-call also increases the average CTR by 8% - an easy-to-add feature to increase the impact of mobile ads.
Director of Performance Solutions & Innovation at Google, Ian Carrington, said as part of the results:
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.
Those surveyed were aged 18-74, were smartphone users who had used their phones to search several times a week, and had made a purchase in one of the verticals - local services, automotive, tech, travel and hospitality - in the past 6 months.
In each of those verticals, here's the number of respondents that had clicked to call a business:
NB: Call now
- Local services: 63%
- Automotive: 42%
- Tech: 38%
- Travel: 36%
- Hospitality: 27%
image courtesy Shutterstock.