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Why You Should Enable Message Extensions (And How To Set Them Up)

In the unlikely event that you’re ingesting the information contained within this blog post by means of a friend reading it aloud to you over the phone, you might want to sit down for what they’re about to say:

People just don’t use their phones to make calls like they used to.

The phone call isn’t quite dead, but it’s dying. And that prognosis isn’t likely to reverse itself, thanks to a mounting onslaught of robocalls, an ever increasing number of means of communicating, and millennials’ subsequent phone-induced anxiety.

That’s likely frightening for businesses that rely heavily on inward bound phone calls for any portion of their leads—or sales. But rather than decry the communicative preferences of the world’s present generational punching bag, why not adapt?

Don’t unplug your business’s landline phone, and certainly don’t punt it out the nearest window. Nor should you remove the call extensions from your Google Ads account. But you should add on one of Google’s newest extension offerings: Message Extensions.


This is one of many ad extensions on Google Ads and does exactly as its name suggests: it prompts potential customers to reach out to you via text message, rather than a phone call. That’s not only good news for would-be customers who are phone-call-averse. It could take some strain off of your staff as well—incoming texts don’t carry quite the same sense of immediacy as incoming calls, so you can multitask while shoring up potential leads.

Here’s What a Message Extension Looks Like in the Wild


“Have you been injured in an auto accident? TEXT ME NOW!”

How to Set Up the Message Extension in Google Ads

Message Extensions are super simple to set up:

  • First, hop into your Google Ads account.
  • Click into whichever campaign or ad group you’d like to apply the extension to. (If you want it applied at the account level, then skip this step.)
  • Now click the “Ads & extensions” tab on the right hand side of your screen, and toggle over to the “Extensions” section, sandwiched between the “Ads” and “Automated Extensions” buttons.
  • Hit the big, round, blue “+” button, and from the dropdown menu, select “+ Message extension.”
  • Enter all the requisite information:
    • Your business’s phone number. (This should go without saying, but make sure the phone you associate with this extension is capable of sending and receiving text messages.)
    • Extension text. This is the call to action that appears at the bottom of your ad that will prod users to send you a text in the first place.
    • Your business’s name.
    • Message text. This is the text that will automatically populate in people’s message when they click on the extension. It’s just a suggestion for getting the conversation started.
  • But before you click “Save,” there are a few best practices to be aware of—direct your gaze a fraction of an inch down screen to learn about them.

Best Practices to be Aware of

If you’ve spent any time tinkering around in Google Ads, you know as well as anyone that there’s generally a series of best practices to adhere to when getting things up and running. This click to text feature is no exception.

Call On Convince Users to Act

As with everything else in your account, customization counts. “Text Now” isn’t a bad call to action, but it’s better to spice it up by mentioning why someone should text you. “Text Us Now To Find Out More” offers some incentive—in the form of useful information about your business.

Break Things Out

If you have multiple campaigns in your account that center around dramatically different aspects of your business, consider using unique Message Extensions for each one. You can tailor the Message Text to more directly speak to each campaign that way, and drive a more focused start to each chat.

Be Sure You’re Gathering Data

If you see a yellow warning emblem underneath the above data field entries that are accompanied by text reading: “You are not collecting data because message reporting is off. Turn on message reporting for your account,” then you should turn on message reporting for your account. (More on this in a bit.)

Don’t Leave Texters Hanging

Before hitting “Save,” be sure to set up extension scheduling. Your Message Extensions should only run during times when someone will be able—or willing—to respond to incoming inquiries in a timely manner. You can schedule when your message extension will show by clicking on “Advanced options.”

GUy’s: dOnT TxT LIKE this…

Oh yeah. One last thing. Make sure you’re a good texter! Respond promptly. Try not to type like a chatbot, but do proofread your responses for spelling and punctuation. And avoid the all-too-common pitfall of ending your sentences with an ellipse… which is a cross-generational point of contention.

Alright! That’s it! You’ve really done it, now! You’ve set up your message extension. Now it’s time to sit back and let the messages roll in, baby.

What About the Data?

Still not convinced? Data hungry advertisers can gather these key metrics to measure the efficacy of their new fangled extension:

  • Chat Rate—the number of initiated conversations/number of impressions for your extension. This metric is useful in determining the quality of your call-to-action.
  • Chat Start Time—the timestamp for when a user first kicks off the conversation. Use this data point to further refine your extension’s schedule.
  • Total Messages Sent—the number of messages exchanged in a single chat. This one can help you figure out which campaigns or ad groups are best suited for this extension.

But Wait—There’s More!

All that said, with Google being Google, no product is ever complete, no extension impervious to updates. And as of October, 2018, Message Extensions might be a more viable option for your business’s advertising needs.

  • Don’t want to—or can’t—be perpetually glued to your phone, waiting with bated breath for an incoming lead via text? You can now set up email forwarding. Texts from users will go straight to your email inbox, rather than your SMS service, and you no longer need to list a phone number in your ads to receive messages.
  • Within the hierarchy of communication, email probably falls somewhere between “physical letter” and “text message,” in terms of urgency with which you should reply. This isn’t to say you should let potential leads pile up in your inbox. But if you want to wait a couple of hours to respond, that’s probably fine. Especially because now Google allows you set up automatic replies to Message Extension-driven messages.
  • There’s also a new conversion-tracking setup for Message Extensions! Google will register conversions based on the standard tally of messages exchanged before a user takes a desired action. It’s not a perfect measurement, but hey—it’s an upgrade from the previous conversion tracking setup for Message Extensions: none.


Have any questions about Message Extensions? Let us know in the comments!

2 responses to “Why You Should Enable Message Extensions (And How To Set Them Up)

  1. Love using message extensions in campaigns!

    One thing I like to do is setup a number with an SMS service.

    That way, larger companies don’t have to worry about only being able to have one person responsible for dealing with SMS messaging!

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