Much has been made about the rise of the data-driven marketeer. Metrics and analysis of varying degrees have allowed marketeers to optimise campaigns and drive more return on investment.
As the use of digital channels has become increasingly normal, marketing teams and agencies have been gifted the capability to find out exactly which campaigns are responsible for the leads they are generating. Google’s tools, Analytics and URL builder, are central to this.
The importance of this is easily understood. If a marketing agency knows what works, they can provide a better service to their clients and demonstrate how valuable the work they do is. If an in-house team can tell management exactly where leads are coming from, they can allocate more budget to it in order to drive growth for the company.
As a marketeer, one of the most challenging aspects of my work has been keeping tabs on leads which come to our sales team via the phone. They may have seen an online display ad, or heard a radio piece, or met with one of the team at an event. Sometimes if they don’t tell you or you don’t ask you’ll never get that information.
Sales teams might be the most reliable form of ‘source allocation’ for leads. They interact directly with the prospect and have the opportunity to question how they ended up on the phone calling your company. As with any non-automated solution, and even some which are automated, the data is never going to be perfect.
As much as you remind them, a sales rep is not going to accurately record where someone first came across us for each enquiry, assuming they remember to ask that question every time.
It can take time to educate a sales person on the different marketing activities you are executing. They might need to be walked through the difference between organic results on SERPs and ad placements. Similarly, the prospective customer on the other end of the phone might not be able to tell the difference between an organic Facebook post and a promoted placement.
So how do we as marketeers get around this issue? How do we take the burden from our sales team and from the prospect? After all, the prospect wants to talk about how you can help them with a problem, not how they found you. How do we provide ourselves with a level of analysis for phone leads which is similar to our conversions tab in Google Analytics?
This is where virtual phone numbers come in.
If you have a dedicated number for each of your campaigns it is rather easy to track how effective they are at generating inbound calls. Virtual phone numbers can be provided as part of a hosted phone system. By logging into your phone system you can view call history across all numbers and get solid totals on how often an individual number is called and an indication of how well different marketing activities or campaigns are performing.
At Blueface, we provide hosted phone systems and virtual phone numbers. In this respect I am spoiled. Our marketing team utilise a number of different phone numbers across various campaigns and marketing channels.
In a perfect world a marketeer would have a specific number for every activity. Even working for Blueface, I don’t have this. If I did, I don’t think I would be very popular with my colleagues who look after our in-house phone system. However, by using the numbers which we have, and without giving too much away, I can disclose that the amount of inbound leads which make contact over the phone is about 2/3rds of what comes in via our website.
As cloud phone numbers are not bound to a certain location, they can be configured to follow almost any business rule. An agency could potentially assign a number to a client’s main sales line, or to a specific salesperson. When that campaign is completed the number can be reassigned to another client or to another campaign. An in-house team member could similarly assign the number to the sales ring group (where all of the sales phones call) or to an individual team member. They could also listen to individual call recordings from each campaign to get some qualitative insights into the types of enquiries they are generating.
Using the call reporting data available for each number when completing your marketing reports will give you greater clarity on ROI, and help in your decision-making process. Something I hear commonly from management and fellow marketeers is, ‘I wouldn’t be against spending more on marketing, I just need to know what works’. Before you ask for more budget or pitch for more of your clients business, invest a little bit on a few virtual numbers. You will have much greater insight into how leads are coming into the business as a whole, not just via online channels.
As with just about anything, virtual numbers won’t completely solve all of your reporting issues but if you’re savvy about how you set them up, you might be surprised at the results. I know we have been as a marketing team.
There might be a solution out there which takes care of all online and offline marketing reporting. If there is, I am not smart enough to comprehend it. If there is, whoever brings it to market will be very successful in this age of reporting and optimisation. In the meantime, give virtual numbers a try.
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