Google AdWords Contact Forms – A Bad Idea
I caught a tweet this morning from @ClicksIM’s Jami Broom where she stated “Adwords is trying out contact forms as an extension of an ad – pretty cool, I think.” The link was to a news brief over at SearchEngineLand.com, which provided a short overview of a more detailed review can be found over at PPC Hero.
The core concept is that Google is now beta testing the serving up of contact forms right within an AdWords ad, thus preventing the person doing the search from having to click through to a web site.
This is a terrible step in Google’s ever increasing goal to keep searchers on the Google site.
First, the concept that you can’t know which questions you’ve submitted will show up in the ad – Google will determine which show up based on quality score variables. So you can’t even control the data collection requirement.
Second, you don’t get direct access to the client – you have to go through Google – who can track the engagement data. And ultimately still controls the prospect. By having a prospect remain at Google and never get to your site, you have no capacity to control the flow of information at all if they choose to use Google’s form.
Third, by allowing Google to gather the answers and contact info, this is only a win for Google in their aim to have an infinite amount of personal data on people looking for services and solutions online.
Finally, This is a complete crap-shoot for the AdWords account owner.
With a form on your own site, there’s an infinite number of additional action items you can present that prospect. This is a core concept of extending the marketing message, and tailoring the ability to further engage the prospect. It’s also a matter of having the ability to gather prospect data and being able to make use of that data in several ways after the initial contact. All of which you lose with this new “solution”.
In addition to all the other problems this creates, by allowing Google to gather that data, marketers and site owners lose a critical piece of first-contact information and need to go through Google to even get a phone number to call. That is insanity.
And Google stipulates you have to contact the prospect within 24 hours. Are they kidding? Sure, I expect immediate response to online inquiries. But to force this nonsense is beyond controlling and completely kills any potential sales opportunity if circumstances out of your control prevent that response time.
And finally, if someone does a search, clicks on the link, and gets the instant contact form, there’s nothing to stop, or at the very least, slow them down from immediately clicking on a competitor’s ad. And therein lies what may be the biggest flaw in Google’s crack-smoking mentality, from a business owner’s perspective.
No, Jami, I’d say this is not pretty cool at all. Unless you’re Google.
UPDATE 1/8/10 – Got a response comment from Jami, who brings up a counter-point. And from there, I realized even MORE problems with this whole thing. So go ahead and be sure to read the comments, then offer your take on it…