Today, many digitally savvy marketers are so entrenched in the online world, they rarely give much thought to offline marketing tactics. Even if they dabble in direct mail, they’re still less likely to think about that “other” offline world — the world of the telephone.
Yes, I’m talking about call centers, IVRs (press 1 for Moviefone), people (CSRs, agents, reps, brand ambassadors), and Muzak. Most marketers don’t think of the telephone as a marketing channel, as the call center usually lives in operations, servicing, or IT (gasp) — never in marketing. Truth be told, thinking about the telephone seems somehow antiquated in this digital age — even the word sounds dated. It’s not the device that’s out of date, more the medium of voice. As marketers we may hardly use our voice to make a phone call anymore, opting instead to speak to Siri, Alexa or their voice-assistant cousins in addition to typing words into devices.
In actuality the telephone is as relevant as it’s ever been. With the ubiquitously high penetration of mobile, it has never been easier to make a call. Not only do you not have to commit the number to memory, you don’t even have to dial it. And for large swaths of the population, having a live conversation with a human offers the only true sense of engagement and consideration. For example, talking to someone is an essential and necessary point of entry into the marketing funnel for “high-consideration” products and services, such as automobiles and real estate.
Since the explosion of technology and analytics platforms that support digital marketing, the telephone as a marketing channel has largely been forgotten, relegated to the world of robocalls and IRS impersonator scams. Yet, there is a relatively untapped world of brand impressions, data, and marketing efficiency to be captured with the telephone.
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5 Ways Technology Helps Mine Untapped Phone Data
Call analytics historically has revolved around a few fundamental metrics: number of calls, average hold time, average call duration, number of answered calls, dropped calls, etc.
Things now are much more advanced. Today’s call technology platforms (their are many, such as DialogTech, Invoca, CallRail, Marchex, ZenDesk) have a host of additional features that make them much more relevant to marketing. Here are the five main features to look for.
1. Attribution. Similar to digital channel attribution, these technologies enable unique tracking, with toll-free numbers usually acting as the unique key for each marketing campaign. This allows for non-traditional, non-digital conversions (from leads, applications, and sales/conversions) to be attributed to your various marketing channels and media partners. The overall result is a more efficient marketing program, as you can now assign credit to a specific channel or set of channels for those conversions, which previously were likely to be unattributed.
2. Optimization. A logical extension of the attribution benefit that allows marketing and/or agency personnel to make optimization decisions based not only on digital conversions, but all types of conversions. And, while your marketing optimization decisions might not be solely based on these conversions, they can be based on a fuller picture of true performance. Perhaps even more significant are the integrations with media platforms, such as Google and Facebook, that auto-inform their algorithms for intra-platform optimizations. You can thereby optimize campaigns for either digital conversions or telephone conversions, depending on your objective.
3. Data Generation. All the call technology platforms generate hundreds of data points per call. This data can be grouped, sorted, filtered, and manipulated for analysis to reveal value. Once you receive the data dictionary for each platform, the marketer must decide which metrics are of value and which data points can be operated to deliver insights.
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4. Data Syndication. With data in hand, you can export or syndicate it out of the call technology platform into your other marketing tech-stack platforms (e.g., Adobe Analytics or Salesforce Marketing Cloud). This data can be combined with your digital data to develop a fuller attribution report (see Attribution).
5. Artificial Intelligence. The larger, more advanced platforms deploy AI on the call. These functions can help interpret the call for call type or disposition (sales, tech support, customer service, general inquiries, complaints, etc.). They can also screen and sort for tone (happy, angry, confused) or for auto-transcription (to help inform your keyword strategy, for example). Each has a model that can be applied out of the box, but it is best to work with the platform supplier to help customize the solution for your business.