Adwords Click-to-Message Extension | First Impression

SMS marketing isn't a new thing for us at CYS. A few years ago we started talking about this idea to "meet your clients where they're at". And the idea lead to significant changes in the way we advocated for websites to be set up and correspondingly, how we were setting up and measuring goals in Google Analytics.

Meeting your clients where they're at in practice meant offering to communicate with them on their terms--when, where and how they wanted to talk.

The first big winner was live chat. And we continue to be proponents for adding a live chat component to all our sites that are looking for leads. Live chat is such an efficient way to capture leads that for a few of our clients we took the idea one step further. They answer the chats during their business hours--but we then outsourced for after hours and constricted our CPC bids by time of day--and proceeded to develop an ongoing stream of low-cost leads.

Next we thought--"well--let's do text messaging". These stats compiled by the folks over at One Reach explain why this was a good idea:

  • Texting is the most widely-used and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day. (Pew Internet)
  • People worldwide will send 8.3 trillion text messages in just this year alone. That’s almost 23 billion messages per day, or almost 16 million messages per minute. (Portio Research)
  • Over 6 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. each day. (Forrester)
  • Over 80% of American adults text, making it the most common cell phone activity. (Pew Internet)
  • Text messages have a 98% open rate, while email has only a 20% open rate. (Mobile Marketing Watch)
  • Text messaging has a 45% response rate, while email only has a 6% response rate. (Velocify)
  • Texting takes up 14.1% of cell phone users’ time. (Nielsen)
  • 90% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes. (Connect Mogul)
  • Text messages are read on average in under five seconds. (SlickText)
  • 75% of phones worldwide (4.5 billion) are text-enabled (DuoCall Communications)
  • 96% of smartphone users text. (Acision)
  • Americans sent 69,000 texts every second in 2012 (CTIA)
  • The average adult spends a total of 23 hours a week texting (USA Today)
  • The average Millennial exchanges an average of 67 text messages per day (Business Insider)
  • On average, Americans exchange twice as many texts as they do calls (Nielsen)
  • Only 43% of smartphone owners use their phone to make calls, but over 70% of smartphone users text (Connect Mogul)
  • 55% of heavy text message users (50+ texts per day) say they would prefer to receive a text over a phone call (Pew Research Center)
  • In 2011, 31% of Americans said they preferred text messages to phone calls (Pew Research Center)
  • It takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to email, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. (CTIA)
  • American women text 14% more than men. (Nielsen)

Text Message CTA's Get Leads

We started by adding a "click to message" button to a mobile site for a client in Southern California.


We have over 24 months worth of data now, and the results are compelling. 

Our goal tracking for 'mobileText' over the course of the last 12 months shows that text messages have accounted for 13.63% of the total lead volume for the site. 

Even more interesting though--text messaging accounted for 68% more leads than form fills and 75% more leads then email leads. 

text messaging accounted for 68% more leads than form fills and 75% more leads then email leads.

Enter Adwords Click to Text Extensions

We started hearing about Adwords Click-to-Message extensions early in 2016. It seemed like a logical next step from click-to-call and we followed along closely. We're betting we see message-only ads sometime in the near future--following a similar pattern of call-only ad types.

As with all new Adwords products we started testing as soon as we could, in this case mid October 2016--and we watch performance closely.


Click-to-Message Early Results are Promising

Your mileage may vary, but our early results are promising. Here's an example comparing "click-to-call" with "click-to-text" extension over the last 30 days

Adwords Click-to-Text Extension Performance

Adwords Click-to-Text Extension Performance

Adwords Click-to-Call Extension Performance

Adwords Click-to-Call Extension Performance


Ad Extension Key Performance Indicators Comparison


47% Reduction in Cost per Lead

That stat alone will certainly get the immediate attention of any search marketer. But that is in fact what we're seeing in our early results from click-to-text extensions.

CTR's are close, but CPC is less than half for click-to-message verse click-to-call. And while we're noting a 22% decrease in conversion rate--the 59% reduction in CPC input costs combining with near-close conversion rate has the net effect of a 47% reduction in cost per lead for click-to-text extension leads.


Adwords Click-to-Text Final Thoughts

Right now we are cautiously optimistic and we're expanding the extension into other client accounts. New products from the Adwords team can be advantageous. New features for users tend to get extra attention.

If CPL continues to show strong performance the next phase of our analysis will look into lead quality comparisons between calls and texts. If all other constants remain the same, than a lower CPL will result in a higher ROI. But to be sure we need to make sure leads generated from 'click-to-message' conversions convert to sales at or above our benchmark rates.