Recently, Google (News - Alert) took an unexpected step and made its call tracking solution a part of AdWords Express, meaning that, now, not only could Google offer web-based marketing, they could even offer phone-based marketing tools as well. AdWords Express is geared toward small businesses, while the call tracking service, Call Reporting, is only available for small businesses in the United States, it's also looking to drive more customers into those businesses by providing another avenue for contact.
Call Reporting works like most any other call tracking program in that it will automatically replace the phone number located in an ad with a toll-free number that allows users to connect via Google Voice. It then reflects the number of calls made--as long as the calls were completed and took over 30 seconds--charging $1 for each call completed in such a fashion. Perhaps the best part for users is that it can be activated with just a simple checkbox and the option to establish a budget for how much, at maximum, users would like to spend on the total campaign.
The mobile version necessarily adds a bit more complexity to the equation, using the business' existing number, but billing the user under a separate program. AdWords Express integration makes it a bit smoother, bringing in Call Reporting across several devices, but adjusting the rates according to what kind of device the call came in from. Additionally, call recording is not available with Call Reporting, but for those who want that service, it can be found from call tracking providers like Telmetrics.
Google already provides some solid work in terms of helping small businesses promote themselves and their services, so bringing in a tool like click-to-call functionality, especially one that offers potential customers an easy point of access with a toll-free number, is just a little extra shot of smart in a pool of already pretty smart. One of the great keys toward keeping business up is presenting sufficient value to outweigh the value of keeping cash on hand, and Google's newest service looks like it might stack up. Granted, some competitors are doing a little better job on the click-to-call front than Google, but Google has a bit of a all-in-one convenience aspect to it that's hard to turn down. Either way, Google should find plenty of takers for this new service.
Edited by Brooke Neuman