Call tracking is hugely under utilised today, with vast amounts of value still to be created for marketing, sales and operations teams.

Making a call on calls; why Smedvig Capital has invested in call tracking

Smedvig Capital recently invested in Infinity, a leading UK provider of call tracking solutions. You have probably never heard of call tracking. So in this article we aim to explain why we believe that call tracking is hugely under utilised today, with vast amounts of value still to be created for marketing, sales and operations teams and why we are excited to be investing in this area of marketing technology.

As digital advertising spend continues to rise, the ability to track and optimise campaigns is increasingly important

Digital advertising spend has grown at 19% per year since 2010 and is expected to accelerate. As digital gains share of advertising and marketing budgets, it becomes increasingly important for companies to accurately measure the return on investment (ROI) from their digital advertising spend and to optimise campaigns.

Fig 1: Digital advertising spend continues to grow

This may not be news to you. But what many are not aware of is the growing importance of inbound sales calls in a multi-channel world and the difficulty this creates when it comes to measuring ROI from digital advertising.

Inbound sales calls are an increasingly important part of the multi-channel customer journey

Inbound telesales is an increasingly important sales channel for digital businesses. In today’s complex multi-channel world, a prevailing customer behaviour is to research a product or service online before ultimately calling a business to make the purchase. A Google commissioned report found that 60% of consumers think it is very or extremely important to be able call a business during the purchase process. This is particularly true of considered purchases involving high value transactions or complex products. For example, Infinity has seen rapid traction in sectors such as holidays, autos, healthcare and business to business services and we believe this has not even scratched the surface.

“60% of consumers think it is very or extremely important to be able to call a business during the purchase process”

The rise of mobile devices has boosted the volume of inbound sales calls to businesses. Customers (both individuals and businesses) are relying more and more on their smartphones to identify, research and connect with potential products and services. The convergence of online research and voice connection onto a single mobile device has boosted ‘research online — call to buy’ behaviour which has ultimately driven higher call volumes.

Fig 2: Mobile call volumes to businesses are growing 16% per year

Furthermore, an inbound call is a strong signal of intent. According to BIA Kelsey, inbound calls are 10 to 15 times more likely to convert to a sale than web leads. This makes calls even more valuable to businesses.

“Inbound calls are 10–15 times more likely to convert than web leads.”

With more and more customers starting their research online before calling a business when they intend to buy, it is clear that being able to track how a customer arrived at and behaved online before making a call is critically important to marketing teams. But herein lies the problem. Most businesses are not able to connect the dots between what they spend on digital advertising and the inbound calls they receive as a result.

The problem is that many businesses are not able to link digital behaviour to inbound calls

In a fully digital world, the effectiveness of marketing spend is tracked from the first time a user is attracted to a website through to the final sale online.

However, for the many businesses who rely on inbound calls to convert journeys that start online, the link is broken. These businesses have to decide how to spend their digital advertising budget with no visibility on how this spend converts to calls and ultimately to sales. They are at a disadvantage compared to pure online-only businesses.

Fig 3: Calls disrupt the ability to measure and optimise marketing spend

The solution is visitor level call tracking

With visitor level call tracking, every visitor to a clients’ website is shown a unique telephone number on that site (or page on a site, or position on a page). Thus, when a call is received to that unique number, the call can be linked back to the specific online journey of the caller. The ‘click stream’ is tracked at a visitor level and identifies the exact search term / advert that the caller clicked on to reach the site, and what pages on the site they viewed prior to making the call.

Fig 4: The solution is visitor level call tracking which connects online and offline activity through a unique telephone number on the website

Call tracking completes the loop between digital advertising spend and sales calls, allowing spend to be tracked to calls, and ultimately to sales. This has profound benefits for marketing, sales, and operations teams.

Marketing teams: optimise digital ad spend based on true ROI

Call tracking integrates online and offline marketing which enables teams to monitor channels, sources and location.

This allows marketing teams to track advertising spend through to results, optimising sources (down to the keyword level) that are the most profitable and most likely to convert in order to maximise ROI.

Sales teams: armed with context, increase conversion

Call tracking enables telesales teams to increase conversion rates of calls as well as the rate of up-sell to the caller.

Based on the customer ‘click stream’ before the call, a call tracking system can ‘whisper’ lead information to the salesperson which helps to tailor the sales pitch to the individual.

Operations teams: automatically route callers based on intent

Call tracking can increase efficiency within a call centre by automatically routing calls based on onsite and search behaviour.

Customers can be pushed to the front of the call queue, prioritising those that are higher value or more likely to convert based on indicators in their ‘click stream’. Similarly, calls can be automatically routed to the most relevant team.

Call analytics software can recognise, investigate, and block calls that have suspicious patterns to prevent wasted telesales time with fraud or spam calling.

To Infinity and beyond

The actual market for call tracking is nascent today with so much untapped potential. Any business which spends more than a few thousand pounds a month on digital advertising and makes some of its sales via inbound calls, should be using call tracking. Yet very few actually are. This is why we are excited and why the market is starting to listen. According to data from Datanyze, the number of call tracking installations is growing at more than 60% per year.

“Any business which spends more than a few thousand pounds a month on digital advertising and makes some of its sales via inbound calls, should be using call tracking. Yet very few actually are.”

Even more exciting is the opportunity to expand from core call tracking insights into other areas of marketing technology. As marketing technology and advertising technology continue to converge, call tracking is uniquely placed to create actionable insights across departments with increasing layers of rich data. It has huge potential to amplify all areas of sales, marketing, advertising and operations. The opportunities are infinite.

Smedvig Capital is a UK based venture capital firm. We recently invested £10m into Infinity. You can read more about the deal here.

This article referenced the following reports: Google; ‘The role of click to call 2013’, BIA / Kelsey; ‘Calls too businesses 2015’