Following Google's announcement that its ads would generate over 30 billion calls in 2016, many people rushed to declare that "call commerce" is very much alive. That reference is to the inbound calls—high-value leads—to a business. Some 70% of consumers have used the click-to-call button in online ads, and 60% prefer a human being for a detailed inquiry over an automated system.

It's logical to think that boosting call volume would increase revenues. That may be true in general terms, but more is not always better. A large call volume could well be the result of a surge in telecom spam and fraud, routing issues, or an ineffective marketing strategy that is eating into your ROI and decreasing sales productivity.

Tip No. 1: Measure and test ad targeting with call analytics

Tracking call attribution and your ad targeting is how you can ensure that your advertising campaigns are attracting leads. Call analytics can help you by providing visibility into the effectiveness of your ad targeting by tracking the source of each call and its outcome.

The source of the call is tracked by dynamic-number-insertion technology. It links a call back to its source online by automatically inserting a phone number on your website or landing page that is unique to each visitor. Once the phone number is called, you know exactly which channel, keyword, and campaign is driving calls.

Dynamic number insertion together with conversation analysis provides a true picture of your call attribution beyond counting calls. Conversation analysis tracks how many of those calls were leads by interpreting the calls as leads or low-value calls. For example, if two of your channels received the same volume of calls, 100 from social and 100 from paid search, but 75 were leads from social and only 25 from paid search on Google, then it would be clear that social has a potentially higher return.

It could also be a sign that your advertising on social is more effective than on Google. Testing two ads through dynamic number insertion will help you optimize your marketing on that channel efficiently, with clear and reliable call-attribution data.

Tip No. 2: Route your calls to the right business

Your routing system could be responsible for an artificially inflated volume of calls by misdirecting irrelevant calls, resulting in an inaccurate conversion rate.

Routing calls efficiently and correctly can improve the customer experience and may result in a boost to your conversion rate. Routing issues are a top customer complaint and pave the way for a bad customer experience. A misrouted call can also cause you to miss a sales opportunity: 78% of people have abandoned a call because they were incorrectly routed.

For a business with multiple locations, a routing system based on a ZIP code or an area code can ensure that customers are directed to the local business servicing their area and reduce worthless calls. ZIP code routing prompts a customer to type in their code, connecting them to the location assigned to that ZIP code. Area code routing automatically connects callers to the location assigned to their area code.

Tip No. 3: Block spam and fraudulent calls

Filter out the calls that may be wasting your time and could potentially cost you money. The Telmetrics Data Insights Lab found that 47% of call volume is typically spam or fraud. Judging from the 50% increase in the first half of 2016 of complaints to the US Federal Trade Commission, spam/fraudulent calls are a growing problem that shouldn't be ignored.

Telecom fraud may also be costing you money: Toll-free pumping artificially increases a phone bill by pushing calls to toll-free numbers.

There are several ways that fraud and spam calls can be blocked before they reach the business. The first involves a spam and fraud blocking program, which is already included with quality call-tracking numbers. Call-block works by identifying spam and robocall patterns, such as numerous concurrent calls, and then blocks those calls.

Other fraud and spam prevention measures include a captcha for callers that ensures only human callers are connected to the business. Callers are prompted to press a number that is randomly generated for a quick and seamless patch through. The call captcha can also be scheduled for outside business hours and triggered for calls outside the service area. That latter option has a secondary benefit in that it makes sure local businesses receive local customers.

* * *

What is your call volume really saying about aspects of your marketing strategy and the kind of calls you're receiving?

It's worth delving into the calls you're receiving to identify your true conversion rate and to eliminate drains on your productivity. Call commerce is here to stay, and it is worth considering how best to make the most of a consumer's preference to speak with a human being.

But a higher call volume does not necessarily mean your strategy is working.

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image of Jenn Horowitz

Jenn Horowitz is marketing manager at Telmetrics, a call analytics and attribution technology company.

LinkedIn: Jennifer Henry Horowitz

Twitter: @EcomBuffet