My colleague dropped her headphones to her desk. Her jaw went with them. Her eyes scanned the room for affirmation. “Can you believe it? One of them just hung up on a customer -- I heard it!”
That day, we got used to hearing the sound. Our team sorted through hundreds of new inbound leads generated by one of our technology clients (who shall remain nameless given this story). Mobile devices are driving an increase in calls to businesses, and we thought a campaign that gave people the ability to call, text, email, etc., would be a success. The problem was that our client was overwhelmed by the influx of calls. No one realized just how likely people were to pick up the phone.
Without call tracking, we would not have had a clear picture that these customers like to use the phone and prefer to speak to a software expert rather than fill out a form or download an ebook. These insights -- often accidental -- are exactly why I’m a huge call tracking advocate.
Call tracking is not the same as a campaign specific number. It is a software system and platform that allows you to see calls much the same way you see leads on a web site -- you see which page the person was on when he originated the call, you get to “track” the person by recording them, and you can go back and listen to calls to determine if your message is working the way you think it should be.
Call tracking is the Google Analytics of the phone system. Many SEO-oriented agencies have used services like Mongoose Metrics for years to track calls from Google Adwords. The true beauty of call tracking is being able to track sales calls from any source -- any web page at all -- that originated the call. At Write2Market, we use CallRail and have standardized on that platform.
Is diving into call tracking a big stretch for a public relations agency like ours? Possibly, but it’s also critical. Here’s why we did it, and why you should, too.
1) Tracking campaigns
If you don’t track calls, you can’t tell how big of an impact your campaign is having on inbound lead generation. And you and I both know that if you can’t accurately track results, the client can't see how valuable the campaign is to meeting his goals.
2) Voice = click
We tell our clients they need a responsive web presence. Well, they need a responsive phone presence, too. Call tracking is a natural and necessary part of that. The easiest way to explain this is not logical; it’s visceral. There’s a reason Google has voice search, and you can voice-to-text. Typing is not a natural behavior even though we are great at it. Future-focused interfaces don’t include typing -- they directly interface with the human in a human way, and voice is 100% human.
Someone calling a company is voting for the brand with his voice. There's no keyboard or other physical structure between him and a connection with the company. Like touch screens, voice is just another way you can empower your client’s brand in an organic, customer-centric way.
3) Real campaign feedback
Let’s face it: we marketing agencies work hard getting qualified leads to raise their hands. Leads that choose the phone are typically higher urgency and are more invested in the buying process, so treating them well is a priority. They also circumvent nurture campaigns by calling, so it’s even more critical to understand these types of leads.
BIA/Kelsey notes that 61% of businesses rate their inbound phone calls as "excellent leads," while only 52% rate leads from the web as excellent.
Listening to how your calls go can teach you and your client a number of critical things including:
What a great call sounds like, so others can be trained on positive situations.
What prospects are really curious about. It’s a voice-of-the-customer survey every day. This feeds stories, blogs, articles, etc. It’s a gold mine.
True sticking points in the client’s sales message, which gives us all the opportunity to develop stronger answers and deliver them more convincingly.
With call tracking, you can get not only quantitative feedback -- i.e., how many leads generated -- but also valuable qualitative feedback. Having call tracking for our clients makes us a much more effective, strategic agency partner.
4) Lead attribution
With call tracking, you can track all the leads that come in through the phone, which can help the client reallocate resources or staff up in certain areas. It can also help you track the quality of leads and the likelihood that these leads will convert into paying customers. If either of these is below the expected, your agency can help train staff to perform better on the phone or you could brainstorm ideas for preventing unnecessary calls, such as including a chat box on the client's website.
5) More targeted marketing materials
Cost per lead matters, and call tracking helps drive it down in measurable ways. For many of our clients, who are technology companies, the faster we can get a qualified lead to close the better it is.
According to Google, inbound phone calls are 10-15 times more likely to convert than inbound web leads, but phone calls are not something agencies typically support because there hasn't been the ability to track the customer against other marketing activities. We need to prove ROI.
That’s no longer the case. CallRail empowers us to follow the call from the page that generated the call, through the call, to the outcome with its analytics package. It allows us to understand the lifecycle of customers who do call and to design marketing materials that support and improve this experience. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Call analytics gives us the same confidence with inbound calls that marketers have with online forms.
6) Message optimization
One of the benefits of call tracking is that it gets you engaged with the target market of your client. Some people complain that agencies are too cerebral, that our creative concepts don’t work in the "real" world. With a call tracking and the analytics, you can test drive a message with the client's key personas and hear feedback immediately. You can essentially create a small focus group, and test and tweak messaging to find the one that resonates.
7) Integrated analytics
Call tracking might sound like one more thing you need to review and analyze. Luckily, many systems allow you to integrate call tracking with your CRM, accounting software, or marketing automation platform. This allows you to see every prospect, every activity, and every conversion and how these relate to larger goals, campaigns, and projects.
Originally published Apr 20, 2015 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016