Call Tracking Can Bring Marketing and Customer Service Together

Advertising is ubiquitous in our society, and competition for a prospect's or customer's attention is fierce. Consumers are bombarded by marketing messaging from many sources—print (direct mail, billboards, and catalogs), audio/visual (direct-response radio/TV ads, infomercials), social media, and across multiple digital channels (email, text, web banners, mobile apps, and more). Advertising is also expensive, so it's vital for marketing agencies and departments to understand which ad sources and campaigns are resonating with prospects or customers and are driving the most sales and revenue. Web analytics systems do not track advertising sources of calls, and that is what makes call tracking so valuable.

The term "call tracking" is a misnomer, or at the very least fails to give credit where credit is due. At first glance, call tracking is a relatively basic and straightforward function; it uses channel-dedicated or dynamically generated phone numbers to identify which advertising sources or media are driving the most calls. Sounds pretty simple, right? In reality, the greatest benefit that call tracking delivers is the ability to connect the dots. It enables organizations to leverage insights and intelligence from offline data, such as voice interactions, with data from digital interactions to deliver highly relevant and personalized communications and recommendations that can ultimately lead to more conversions, larger sales, brand loyalty, and an enhanced customer experience.

Moreover, call tracking solutions can integrate with a wide variety of contact center applications, like interactive voice response systems (IVRs), intelligent virtual agents (IVAs), automatic call distributors (ACDs), outbound dialers, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, interaction (speech and text) analytics, lead management systems, and more. The collective data from the call tracking and contact center systems can be used to engineer an individualized customer experience that puts customer preferences, needs, and wants at the forefront of sales and servicing activities.

Marketing and the contact center are two sides of the same coin; marketing wants to bring in new prospects and expand relationships with existing customers, and the contact center wants to retain them and make them happy. But traditionally, the relationship between marketing and the contact center is anything but frictionless, and it's easy to see why. Marketing is big-picture and revenue-oriented. Details, such as servicing costs and inquiries/complaints that result from a poorly executed marketing program, are not their primary concern. Customer service, on the other hand, must deal with the fallout and customer impact of all marketing campaigns and initiatives, not to mention being blindsided by any increase in call volume that was not included in the staffing forecast. The contention between these two areas is counterproductive and negatively impacts the bottom line. Contact centers are well positioned to improve the conversion rates of new marketing initiatives, generate incremental revenue, retain profitable customers, and elevate the customer experience, essential goals for all companies. But they need information to achieve these objectives, and therein lies the value of call tracking.

Call tracking puts the marketing department and the contact center on a level playing field; it improves marketing effectiveness and at the same time helps the contact center be viewed as an essential corporate contributor. It gives marketing visibility into the effectiveness of offline and online marketing channels and media and gathers important details about prospects and customers, demographic data, their interests, behavior, buying patterns, etc. These valuable insights are also shared with the contact center and leveraged to optimize the sales opportunity and increase conversion rates—pre-qualifying leads in the IVR/IVA, routing the call to the most appropriate agent, and proactively targeting outreach in the prospect's or consumer's channel of choice. Further, interaction analytics can be used to understand what customers are saying and why they are converting or not.

Competitive Landscape

The call tracking market consists of more than 80 vendors worldwide who fall into five primary categories, although some providers fall into more than one. The categories are: best-of-breed (stand-alone) providers, carriers, contact center infrastructure vendors, digital advertising and marketing firms, and other. Five of the best-known vendors in the call tracking market are Convirza, Freespee, Infinity, Invoca, and Marchex.

The customer journey begins with a single step, be it a visit, a call, a search, or a click. When prospects and customers call, a majority of those calls go to contact centers. While pundits in the market are perpetually tolling the death knell for calls, voice remains a highly dependable and critical channel of communications for businesses. DMG research has shown that it's the go-to channel when there is a serious issue that requires advice, consultation, or immediate resolution, particularly if the issue is in regard to finances, healthcare, or insurance. When it comes to buying, a majority of consumers prefer conducting online research to compare prices and products. Consumers who engage with a company's website, conduct organic searches, or click on paid search ads often reach out to a company and ultimately buy a product or service (or convert) over the phone. We also know that a higher percentage of sales, particularly larger deals, are closed when prospects call to speak with someone.

Call tracking is the latest argument in favor of voice, which clearly is here to stay as an important channel for service, support, and sales. It is also a vital part of the customer journey. Have you ever searched on the web for a particular product, maybe called a retailer or two to compare products or styles and pricing, only to, delightedly, get an email or banner ad the next day that the exact item you called about is now 25 percent off? No, it's not serendipity, it's call tracking. And it has a robust future for companies that want to thrive in the digital age.

Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is an expert on contact centers, analytics, and back-office technology. She has 30 years of experience helping organizations build contact centers and back-office operating environments and assisting vendors to deliver competitive solutions. She can be reached at