As any great marketer knows, the best advertising is both helpful and actionable. This is especially true on the web, where so much of our job lies in answering questions, showing people what they’re looking for, and giving them a smooth, frictionless path to obtain it.

And whether your target customer is looking for a place to eat dinner, wood for a new deck project or a hotel for an upcoming trip, chances are they are using their smartphones to do the research.

Now you can make it even easier for them to get more information directly from you by employing Google’s new click-to-message ads (also called click-to-text ads). First time you’re hearing about them? This is what you need to know:

How will click-to-message ads work?

Customers will simply click the ad, and a pre-populated text message will appear in their texting app. They can edit the text to fit their needs or simply hit send. You, the advertiser, will receive the message and be given the opportunity to respond. To maximize your performance, consider having texts sent to an agent at a desktop where they can easily include links, additional information and whatever else is needed.

What will click-to-message ads look like?

The ads will have a texting icon that potential customers can click to contact the business via text. Businesses will be able to edit the wording beside the symbol to ad customized text to go with your business. Options can include “Have more questions? Send us a text.” or “Call or text us now.”

You will also be able to pre-populate the message that potential customers send, removing some of the friction between you and their business.

How can advertisers take advantage of this new ad format?

Any ads that you run now that urge a potential customer to as for information can be tweaked to use in the new click-to-text format.

Instead of simply asking to call now, think in terms of the next actionable step. What do you want the prospect to do? Whether it is text for more information, set up a free on-site demo or make a reservation, include that action directly in your ad. Then, in the prepopulated text, include the message that your potential customer is most likely to send. This makes it more likely that they will hit send and complete the next step in their journey toward a purchase from you.

Why is Google creating this new format?

Google has been nudging users and advertisers toward mobile for years. As they observe more people using mobile for search, they have made mobile-friendliness a requirement for both organic search and advertising.

Since two out of three smartphone users do five or more searches a day, being where they are when they are looking for services helps your business stay visible and win new clients.

Who could use text-based ads?

Mobile is already a must for brick and mortar businesses. Statistics say that nearly 80% of local shoppers start with a mobile search. This format builds on the opportunity presented by mobile, giving users another direct and possibly more familiar method of getting in touch.

However, e-commerce brands can benefit from click-to-text as well. Mobile surfing has pulled ahead of desktop, with 51% of all surfing done on a tablet or smartphone. Click-to-text ads can win the business of someone who has a question before they place an order on your site.

What analytics will be available?

Google will give reporting on message extensions in the extensions tab. They will also show the click type, showing you whether a prospect clicked the ad itself, the phone icon or text. There’s currently no clear way to measure engagement after that, so advertisers will need to create their own methods of measuring how many people come to them from click to text.

Google follows user trends to tailor their products toward the most common behaviors. By keeping up with what they have to offer through AdWords, you can keep your business up to date with the best practices. Add click to text to your ads when it becomes available to increase your conversions and close more sales.

When will click-to-text ads be available?

Google has not released a firm date, suggesting that they will be rolled out gradually over the next several weeks. Search Engine Land reported that the feature was in testing as early as mid June of 2016.

What will click-to-message ads cost?

Clicks on the click to text button will cost the same as any other click on your ads.

For more information about this new format, check out this blog post from AdWords.

About Brendan Silk

Brendan Silk is the lead content strategist at Ethoseo and a regular contributor to the Ethoseo blog. In addition to blogging and copywriting, he's spent the past three years honing his SEO and inbound marketing skills, with an emphasis on link building and social media. In his spare time he can usually be found chasing cats, playing drums, or listening to Phish. You can find more posts by Brendan at his bio page on Ethoseo, or follow him on Google+.

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