Are Your Phone Lines Letting You Down?

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It is widely accepted that web analytics is essential for any company operating online. Businesses need to know how traffic comes to them; the search terms people enter to get there, what sites they visited first and where they went afterwards. This insight is indispensable, and organisations are more than willing to pay a premium to get it.

It is, therefore surprising that so few businesses apply analytics to phone calls, despite research having shown that up to two-thirds of all small businesses identify the telephone as their most important source of clients.

Perhaps it’s because the phone call is such a long established and constant communication channel for businesses that we don’t immediately recognise that there should be a similar depth of insight available for call traffic as it is online. But neglecting call analytics will create a blind spot for a business’ broader sales and marketing efforts. After all, what happens to your web analytics data when a potential customer decides to take your phone number from an ad and simply call you? How do you know which ad they saw, where they’re calling you from, and how their call statistically fits into the bigger picture of phone calls your business is receiving?

What businesses risk forgetting is that sales, particularly for bigger items or services, still often boil down to the telephone call. Across industries, data overwhelmingly suggests that inbound calls have a higher intent and a higher value per sale than most online response mechanisms.

Questions that businesses must ask of their analytics capabilities include whether or not they understand how people are calling their business, during what time of day customers are more likely to call, or even why they’re calling in the first place. This type of information is indispensable when it comes to allocating marketing budgets across all of the different available platforms. Call analytics also helps organisations better distribute internal resources to maximise the value of every inbound inquiry.

To provide a simple example, recent property-industry data shows that more than 10% of people make phone inquiries on a Saturday. However, many businesses are closed or have reduced operating hours at the weekend, meaning that they could be missing out on potential new business. The same data shows that more than 10% of calls arrive between 5 pm and 8 pm, whereas only 2% arrive between 8 am and 9 am. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every single business, but these kinds of trends provide valuable insight into how modern consumers behave – providing actionable intelligence on how to best accommodate their needs, ensure their satisfaction, and gain their loyalty.

In addition to the above points, many search-based advertising campaigns drive continuous sales via the phone. Given the fact that a consumer who sees an ad, and follows up by calling a number is highly likely to save that number on their smartphone, they are also highly likely to use that same number, and that same business, for future transactions. We have seen that, if the number advertised is retained by the company, a single click can drive up to eight calls a year from the same budget. That means a much higher return on investment for marketing when it is attributed correctly and – very importantly – when that number is not reused by another company.

The phone number is a part of a company’s digital identity, and similar to a business website, it should be kept with the company and never made available to other potential competitors. In search, and indeed in print media, we have seen many ads driving calls years later due to the stickiness of the number called. With one on every desk, it’s surprising that such an omnipresent business communications channel could represent such a significant sales analytics blind spot.

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