Click-To-Call: The Hidden Key to Mobile Usability

Last week Google announced that searches performed from mobile devices outnumbered those from desktop for the fist time ever.  Even prior to that announcement, mobile user experience had become critical for websites.  While the recent Google algorithm update has given a great push to the importance of mobile usability on the part of webmasters and SEOs, ensuring a site is user-friendly isn’t just about using responsive designs and removing unplayable content.  One of the more overlooked elements of good user experience is having all of your phone numbers set up as click-to-call links.

What is Click-to-Call?

Click-to-call is a way of converting the phone numbers on your site into a link that uses a markup allowing it to be called simply by clicking on the number from a mobile phone or device.  Why this is important is that not all devices and device browsers treat phone numbers and phone number formats the same.  Setting up click-to-call ensures that a visitor is able to click on your phone number and call you directly.

What is Click-to-Text?

Click-to-text does the same thing except it allows the mobile phone user to text a phone number in once click rather than call.  It can be especially useful for certain types of service providers such as criminal defense attorneys and emergency services such as roadside assistance.  Potential customers/clients of services like these often aren’t in front of a computer at the exact time they need to call.

Conversion Rates

A lack of click-to-call links is a quick way to lose users and lower overall conversion rates.  Say you’re performing a mobile search for a restaurant. Upon reaching the site, the phone number at the top is a piece of unclickable text.  Most users are not going to take the time to copy and paste the phone number (or write it down to dial it manually).  This user reaction means the restaurant has just lost potential revenue, all because click-to-call was not set up for its mobile site.  In the old days when the European phone number format (555.555.5555) was popular on the web, I remember being frustrated that my Nokia cell phone couldn’t determine that a number formatted that way was a phone number.  As such, I couldn’t click on that phone number to call.  I also distinctly remember not ordering from restaurants because I was too lazy to cut-and-paste the phone number into my call dial screen.

Aside from my own mid-2000’s woes trying to order Chinese food, according to Neil Patel, mobile users are considered to be “hot” (a.k.a. the leads quickest to convert).  By retaining a well-designed mobile site that also has click-to-call set up, these conversion-ready users are more likely to stay on your site instead of fleeing to a competitor to find a version of your phone number that they can one-click-call (best scenario).  The worst scenario is that they call one of your competitors.

Wrapping Click-to-Call Links with Google Analytics Event Tracking

Besides helping increase conversion rates, click-to-call links can provide more data about who is visiting your site via mobile search, and who is taking the steps toward a real conversion.  In 2013 alone, a study of 3,000 users reported that 70% of mobile searchers used click-to-call links to make calls, which is an incredible number for data-gathering purposes.  By also using click-to-call data in conjunction with Google Event Tracking in your Universal Google Analytics, it is quick and easy to separate out conversion between mobile and desktop, and to gather data about how users are behaving on your site.  Google Event Tracking with click-to-call links can also help set up an analysis of specific pagination patterns and evaluate the paths users are taking to get to the call link.  Here is a screenshot of where Analytics Event Reporting lives.

google analytics

Here is an excellent guide from Google about how to setup and implement the tracking code for Analytics Events:

https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/gajs/eventTrackerGuide

Implementing Click-to-Call and Click-to-Text

Setting up a click-to-call link is relatively painless, especially if you use a CMS like WordPress. As with any piece of code, leaving any element out (such as the quotation marks or the colons) could cause an issue, so be sure to input your code properly. If your site is showing a phone number with only text, ensure the proper code surrounds your number as shown in the example below:

<a href=”tel:+15555555555”> Call Now! 555-555-5555</a>

For text-to-call, it’s essentially the same thing using “sms:” instead of “tel:”.  In this case,, it would be set up as:

<a href=”sms:+15555555555″>Click to Chat</a>

Mobile search is going to keep increasing in popularity as smartphones become more advanced. Enabling click-to-call ensures that compatibility and formatting issues across phones and devices won’t get in the way of your conversions.  Be sure to test out your event tracking once the link is installed to be sure there are no errors, and enjoy analyzing a new batch of data.