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Google My Business Drives 2x More Phone Calls Since COVID-19: What Marketers Should Do About It

Blair Symes VP of Product Marketing, DialogTech

It isn’t news that consumers searching for local businesses often convert by calling. Most local searches take place on smartphones, and according to Google, mobile searchers are 39% more likely to call a business. Analyst firm BIA/Kelsey also estimates that mobile search ads drove over 60 billion phone calls to businesses in 2019 — a 113% increase from 2014.

A new study from Brandify, however, raised some eyebrows when it found that Google My Business listings are driving significantly more calls to US businesses since COVID-19 struck in March. You can see the results in the chart below.

Source: Brandify Pandemic Insights Study 2020

Starting on March 11, when coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and US states began locking down, there was a quick and dramatic spike in phone calls to US businesses from Google My Business listings. At its peak on March 21, GMB listings drove three times more calls than the pre-COVID average.

Daily call volumes came down a bit in April, but they still ended up nearly twice as high on average as those in February. Phone calls are the most popular Google My Business action consumers are taking since COVID-19 struck, more than driving directions and website visits.

Phone Calls From Google My Business Are Way Up, But What Should Marketers Do?

1. Understand the Quantity and Quality of Phone Calls Driven From Your Google My Business Listings

So consumers are calling you more from your Google My Business listings — what should you do as a marketer to take advantage? The first thing to do is get the right marketing attribution and analytics on those phone calls from GMB and the resulting conversations with your locations. Insights from those calls provide the foundation for many of the marketing actions you can take to convert more callers to customers and revenue.

An AI-driven call tracking and analytics solution like DialogTech can provide you with that first-party call data. When someone calls from your Google My Business listings, DialogTech correctly attributes that call, captures identifiers and data about the caller (phone number, name, location, device), and connects that data to their call experience and conversation with your business (if the call was answered, if they are a sales lead, if they converted).

Many businesses use DialogTech to track phone calls from GMB and other marketing channels and get analytics on the conversations from our AI at scale. You can view reports on how GMB drives calls that convert to sales opportunities and appointments in DialogTech and activate that data in Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Search Ads 360, Salesforce, and more.

Sample DialogTech report comparing call quantity and value from marketing sources, including GMB

2. Build Audiences From GMB Callers to Improve Digital Advertising

When consumers call your business from GMB (or other sources), those phone conversations are a rich source of insights into that caller’s intent, urgency, product/service interest, value, and more. You can convert more Google My Business callers into customers and revenue by using data from those conversations to put callers into your most relevant audience segments for digital advertising:

  • Retargeting: For unconverted callers whose conversation shows they are good leads, retarget them with search, social, and display ads for the product/service they called about. By capturing the caller’s phone number as their identifier and insights from the conversation with AI, a call tracking and analytics solution like DialogTech enables you to accurately retarget these phone leads with the right ads, even if they never visited your website.
  • Upsells, Cross-Sells, and Lookalikes: For callers who converted to customers, put them into the most relevant upsell or cross-sell ad campaigns. You might also add them to lookalike campaigns to extend your reach and find new prospects resembling your best phone leads.
  • Exclusions: For GMB callers whose conversations show they aren’t sales leads, add them to your exclusion lists so you don’t serve them ads that aren’t relevant. Most marketers don’t want to waste budget retargeting someone who called for customer support, to inquire about a job, or to solicit business.

3. Tap Into Rich First-Party Data From Phone Conversations

Call recordings and transcriptions are one of the most valuable sources of first-party marketing data. DialogTech provides a searchable database of your call recordings and transcriptions that you can use to get deep insights into your GMB callers and the performance of your locations answering calls. You can then use those insights to drive more conversions from your marketing and help locations convert more callers to customers:

  • Improve SEO and CRO: Learn the questions and concerns callers are voicing and add them to your website and product pages to get more SEO visits and improve conversion rates.
  • Conduct mystery shopping: See if locations, call centers, and remote agents answering calls are following approved scripts, mentioning promotions, demonstrating empathy, asking callers to schedule appointments, and saying the right things when consumers call.
  • Improve call coaching: Provide locations and call center managers with recordings/transcriptions to use as learning tools. Share good phone leads that didn’t convert, calls with disgruntled callers where the location/agent still booked the appointment, and calls where the employee lacked empathy as teachable examples to improve performance.

Sample transcription and recording of a call in DialogTech

4. Use Intelligence on the Call Experience to Detect and Correct Issues

No matter how well your marketing generates phone leads, it doesn’t matter if your locations aren’t converting them to sales opportunities, appointments, and customers. When it comes to the call experience, however, marketers may not realize there is even a problem, even though there often is. A DialogTech study found that 1 in 5 calls to businesses go unanswered, meaning many callers that could be great leads are hanging up or being sent to voicemail.

You can use DialogTech reports to see if your GMB calls are going unanswered or unconverted, diagnose the reasons why (are many calls coming outside regular business hours, are locations understaffed to answer calls, are locations not saying the right things?), and help management take action to improve results.

Sample DialogTech report showing call handling performance at locations

5. Automatically Assist and Qualify GMB Callers With IVRs

If high call volumes, on-hold times, and unanswered calls are a problem for your business, an IVR can help. An IVR (interactive voice response) is an automated phone menu that can ask callers why they are calling, route them to the best destination based on their responses, provide answers to common questions, and more. A common example of an IVR asks callers to “press 1 for sales, press 2 for support” to route sales leads to sales reps (not support agents) to assist, and vice versa.

But you can use IVRs to ask callers any questions you need to determine the best way to route them. That includes asking them the ZIP code they are calling from or the specific product or service they are calling about. You can also have IVRs answer common questions about things like store hours or provide any updates or news so your staff doesn’t have to spend time answering those calls manually. You can use your call recordings and transcriptions to capture common reasons why people call and have your IVR automate those use cases where a live person isn’t necessary.

DialogTech makes it easy for marketers to build their own IVRs in minutes

Step-by-Step Instructions for Tracking Calls From Google My Business With DialogTech

Many businesses use DialogTech to get marketing attribution and conversation analytics for phone calls from Google My Business and other sources. But I know that some marketers are reluctant to use call tracking for GMB and on their website because they worry that call tracking numbers can hurt Google NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistency and impact organic search rankings.

DialogTech is built to track calls from GMB and your website without violating NAP or hurting your SEO results. Here are step-by-step instructions for how to use a DialogTech call tracking phone number in your GMB listings while keeping your NAP consistent, so that there is no negative impact on organic search:

Step 1: To add a tracking number to a listing, log into Google My Business and click on the Info tab. Then click the edit icon next to your phone number.

Step 2: A pop up will appear that allows the user to edit their phone number. Click on the “Add phone number” link below.

Step 3: In the Add phone number view, you will need to move your primary business number to the Additional phone number field. This will help ensure that there is no negative impact on SEO. Then add your DialogTech tracking number to the primary number field.

Step 4: Once the numbers have been added to the appropriate fields, hit “Apply” to save your changes. That’s it — it’s as simple as that. Just remember that edits to these fields will first be reviewed by Google and may take a few days to be published in your listing.

If you are interested in differentiating GMB calls driven from paid ads versus organic search, you should use a secondary tracking number in Google Ads location extensions. To add this secondary tracking number to your GMB listing, log into your Google My Business account and click on “Info.” Then click on the edit icon next to “Google Ads location extensions phone.”

A pop up will appear allowing you to add a secondary tracking number to Google My Business that will be used in a Location Extension in ads that appear in Google Maps.

Once you have added the phone number, click “Apply” to save your changes.

Learn More Strategies to Drive Call Conversions from Paid Search

Calls are one of the most popular and valuable conversions from search. Having the right data on those calls gives marketers the ability to measure performance and make smarter optimizations to acquire more customers and revenue. To learn more strategies for driving phone leads and customers from search, you can download our playbook on Driving Appointment Calls From Paid Search After COVID-19.

Download our playbook, Driving Appointment Calls From Paid Search After COVID-19, to learn more strategies for driving phone leads and customers from search.

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