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Why the humble telephone is still an important business tool in a digital world

December 17, 2015

Many small business owners now focus a lot of time and effort on their website and on how their customers are interacting with them online. We live in an increasingly digital world, so this is understandable, but the humble telephone call can still be a very valuable business tool.

Calls coming into your business convert more often and more quickly than online leads, ultimately making you more money. Not only that, but tracking your phone calls can give you useful data which you can use to improve the efficiency of your promotional efforts.

Few small business owners would challenge the belief that making good commercial decisions relies on good analytics, so why are so many not tracking their inbound calls?

Here are six reasons why you should care about incoming calls and how you can get the most out of them;

1. Telephone leads are most valuable to small businesses

SME advertisers say repeatedly that inbound calls are their most valuable and best converting type of lead.

That’s 61% of businesses, according to Invoca, who rate incoming calls as their highest lead source. Statistics from BIA/Kelsey concur, finding between 64% and 86% of local businesses rate telephone leads as their highest converting lead source.

However, these figures do depend on the type of business you run. Traditional retail businesses, for example, will tend to rely more heavily on footfall, but services, high-end products and any e-commerce tends to see significant call to customer conversion.

2. Calls convert more quickly to sales

The journey from lead to sale can take forever, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Time is often of the essence when it comes to business – especially smaller businesses where owners often wait until sales are needed to start proactively generating and tracking leads.

98% of leads drop out within three months, though – meaning businesses waiting on online lead conversion are in it for the long haul.

On the flip-side, phone calls are lower in the sales funnel – as shown by their 31% conversion rate. Leads who call you are much more likely to buy from you, and that means that you’ll waste less time waiting for customers, more time making sales right now.

3. Calls convert up to 12 times more

There are many studies proving this. For example, Hubspot and Marketing Sherpa found that inbound calls convert to customers 25-40% of the time compared to only 2% of online leads. For the mathematically challenged among us, that means telephone leads convert 10-12 times more than online leads. That’s a big difference.

Google concurs, finding that pay-per-click campaigns convert 6-8% less than pay-per-call campaigns – a figure that only increases if pay-per-call campaigns include urgent calls-to-action such as ‘Pick up the phone now!’.

In short, research from across the web have found that calls convert more than other leads.

4. Calls make you more money

Sales are the end game for any business, and calls make more sales.

Convirza did some research into this and found that although online leads are more abundant – sometimes accounting for up to 95% of total lead volume – phone calls generated 25% of the overall revenue. That’s a quarter of overall revenue, coming from only 5% of total lead volume.

Quality really is quantity when it comes to inbound leads.

5. Mobile search is growing – and it drives calls

As of May this year, Google announced that mobile search has officially surpassed desktop search.

Why should you care?

Because mobile search is predicted to generate 73 billion calls to businesses in 2018 – more than a 100% increase from 2013. According to Google, 71% of mobile searchers make calls directly from their mobile search results, making mobile a potent lead generation source.

6. Calls are more useful

Not only do inbound telephone leads have a significantly higher conversion rate than other leads, they give more useful information, too.

Firstly, in terms of actual conversation. Speaking to a prospect on the phone gives a wealth of information compared to a purely online interaction. It allows two-way communication.

Your sales team can build a relationship much more effectively with leads over the phone, answering their questions, drilling down on their objections and leading them further towards the Holy Grail: a sale.

Secondly, call-tracking software allows marketers to analyse their leads in a holistic way, which is invaluable in attributing sales to leads and gaining insight into the full customer journey across online and offline platforms.

Software that tracks phone calls allows you to more effectively track your customer, providing a joined-up view that can better inform your marketing strategy moving forward.

The upshot?

Phone calls are an often-ignored source of leads, left out in the cold in exchange for the bright lights of the internet. This is a mistake – phone calls are critically important in the buying cycle: they convert more, convert more quickly, and ultimately make you more money.

If you’ve been ignoring the importance of the not-so-humble telephone call, it’s time to refocus your attention on your phone leads.

About the author

Natalia Selby heads up marketing at call tracking software company, Mediahawk. With more than 10 years of experience in analytics, content management and eCommerce, Natalia knows how to help businesses get the most from their online marketing by effectively integrating offline marketing to give bigger-picture insight.

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