Somewhere between the first iPhone and the recent announcement of the Apple Watch, life got more interesting. We're now connecting with each other and businesses in new ways, weaving between different apps, devices, and online and offline channels.

The Apple Watch is yet another way that we can stay in touch with our mail and messages—and even make calls. If you haven't read about it yet, here's the deal: The Apple Watch has a built-in speaker and microphone allowing for quick chats and seamlessly transferring calls to your phone or car speakers. If you didn't feel like James Bond before, it will certainly help you feel like him now.

Yes, there's the cool factor, but that's not why Apple's latest product makes it easy to place a call from your wrist. The fact is that calls are here to stay: Google found that 70% of mobile searchers have used click-to-call to connect directly with businesses, and BIA/Kelsey expects mobile search will generate more than 70 billion calls from consumers to businesses by 2018.

And it's not just Apple paying attention to this trend. In recent months, Google, Twitter, and Amazon have released product features that merge calls with multiscreen experiences.

But there's a growing disconnect. Despite investment in calls from tech's biggest companies, marketers are still primarily focused on creating more opportunities for digital interactions. Click here, open this email, follow this Twitter handle... Marketers are continuing to ignore the most valuable and least understood source of leads: inbound calls.

Why are inbound calls valuable? According to Invoca data, inbound calls are proven to convert at rates up to 15 times higher than those of clicks. Fifteen times. That trend will continue as people tire of scrolling through small pages of text and thumbing their credit card information into tiny forms.

Stay ahead of your competition by ensuring your marketing strategy accounts for inbound calls. Here are five steps to get you started.

1. Know who's calling

Equip the person who answers calls with information beyond caller ID: What motivated the customer to call, where they might be on their path to purchase, how much time they've spent on your website, what collateral they may have downloaded, and so on. That information will result in a better conversation and a better chance of conversion.

2. Listen

The time spent in conversation with customers will result in rich information about the customer experience. Have the technology in place to capture such valuable data and turn it into actionable insight—for your overall marketing efforts and the experience you provide your customer.

Think about the insights you could capture in each call:

  • Was a competitor mentioned?
  • Did a sale occur?
  • How effective is your sales messaging?
  • Was there a missed opportunity?
  • Are there common customer interests or concerns?

3. Measure the outcome

Any time you receive a call, track the result: Did you make a sale or answer an important question? Measure calls against other customer conversion paths.

Understand ROI by tracking your calls with the same metrics you use to measure the effectiveness of your online ads and search terms.

4. Attribute your marketing efforts

Most marketers aren't able to answer the questions of how many people are calling, where they're coming from, or how much they're worth. When customers go offline and pick up the phone, the big picture dissolves for marketers. Connect the dots between marketing activities and ringing phone calls in order to get credit for those sales.

5. Integrate

Your inbound call data should help inform the other systems you use every day. Marketing technologies can track and analyze every customer interaction, as long as that customer stays online. But, as soon as they pick up the phone, a link in the chain is broken. Eliminate this problem by integrating critical information on who is calling, what drove them to call, and what happened during their conversation with all of your leads. Consider the following scenarios:

  • CRM: Connect call data to revenue associated with opportunities to achieve closed loop attribution.
  • Bid management: Automatically raise or lower keyword bids based on call conversion data.
  • Remarketing: Know that the Web visitor didn't abandon the shopping cart or form but rather converted over the phone.

* * *

Inbound phone calls are one of the most valuable lead sources for companies, converting at 10-15 times the rate of traditional Web clicks. You need visibility into your inbound calls to connect the dots from keyword to ad to revenue. Voice conversations are a goldmine of insights for optimizing campaigns, retargeting efforts, budget, and customer experience. Don't just track calls; track what happens on those calls and what makes them valuable.

Whether the Apple Watch is a hit or a flop, the rules of engagement have changed: Marketers need to be ready for constant multiscreen, multichannel connectivity.

Whether you work for a B2B or B2C company, it's never been more important to optimize your marketing for the entire customer journey—online and offline.

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It's Now Possible to Call From Your Wrist. Marketers, Are You Keeping Up?

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image of Eric Holmen

Eric Holmen is the CEO of Splash, a next-generation event marketing platform designed to help teams build and host virtual, in-person, and hybrid events.

LinkedIn: Eric Holmen