Digital Services Providers Can Amp Up Retailer Results with Enhanced Click-​to-​Call Features

BY Courtney Huckabay

Invoca’s 2016 Call Intelligence Index reveals the lines are blurring between online and offline channels, with digital marketing driving 92 percent of calls. The study of 58 million calls uncovers how and when consumers choose to call, underscoring offline interactions as a critical part of the omnichannel customer journey.

A shift from offline to digital marketing spend, combined with the ubiquity of mobile, is increasing calls to businesses at an upward clip,  according to the 2016 Call Intelligence Index published by Invoca, the call intelligence company. The annual index analyzed more than 58 million calls across 40 industries, providing insight into the role of the phone call in today’s omnichannel customer journey.

This year’s Index found that digital is now driving more calls to businesses than ever before. In 2015, digital channels drove 92 percent of these calls, up from 84 percent in 2014. Additionally, the report finds more customer calls come from mobile search than from any other channel. Search and social features like Google call-​only ads and convenient click-​to-​call buttons are further blurring lines between channels, making it easier for customers to call businesses on mobile.

AudienceSCAN reports, specifically, 8.9% of U.S. adults have used a click-​to-​call button/​link via browser, tablet or mobile phone, to call a business or have them call back, during the past 6 months.

Marketers speculated that the rise of digital would kill more traditional channels like the phone call,” said Kyle Christensen, VP of marketing, Invoca. “But what we’re seeing is the opposite. As people use their phones to interface with the world around them, they’re also calling businesses more. The marketers who will thrive in this environment will be those who optimize for calls as an integrated part of their omnichannel strategies.”

The omnichannel nature of the customer journey is increasingly evident. The 2016 Call Intelligence Index reports that 79 percent of people switch devices during an activity, and that 63 percent of people complete a purchase offline after searching online. Marketers are responding to this trend by capturing call data and applying insights from those conversations into their other marketing programs, such as email campaigns, retargeting ads and search marketing.

AudienceSCAN also finds 12.1% of U.S. adults have used smartphones or tablets to tap on a call button or phone number link to call a business or have them call back in the past 6 months.

Key findings from Invoca’s 2016 Call Intelligence Index include:

The Rise of Digital Increases Calls

Calls are supplementing digital interactions as customers move between mobile search, web, social, display, email and apps. The rise of digital is linked with an increase in phone calls, and marketers should  optimize for this growing trend.

  • Calls bridge the online-​offline path to purchase — Online channels, including desktop search and display advertising, drove 38 percent of phone calls in 2015, representing a 23 percent rise from 2014, when online channels drove 30 percent of all calls. Offline channels, including TV, radio and newspaper ads, drove half as many calls in 2015 (8 percent) as in 2014 (16 percent).
  • Search-​to-​call is the dominant call driver — Mobile search is the biggest driver of phone calls to businesses, responsible for 48 percent of call volume in 2015. Desktop search was the second biggest driver, nearly doubling in 2015 (17 percent) from 2014 (9 percent).

Advertisers should reach out to Click-​to-​Call Users through the television too. AudienceSCAN reveals 75% of Click-​to-​Call Users took action after seeing a TV commercial in the past year. They're watching TV with their phones in their hands, so they might as well be looking up the business they see on TV!

When and Where Consumers are Calling Matters

Consumers who call a business tend to have higher purchase intent than those simply browsing online. To convert that interest into sales, businesses must be equipped with insight into who is calling and what their journey has been up until this point.

  • The lunch hour is the most popular time for calling — On weekdays, people call businesses most often in their respective time zones between 11 – 11:59 a.m. On the weekend, most calls occur from 12 – 12:59 p.m. People tend to call businesses most on Mondays, which receive 55 percent more calls than Sundays, the lowest volume day.
  • Look for call length to indicate quality — Call duration is a key indicator of a call’s quality for marketing and sales representatives. Calls driven by newspapers (6 minutes, 10 seconds), online review sites (5 minutes, 54 seconds) and online display ads (5 minutes, 23 seconds) resulted in the longest average conversation times. Across industries and drivers, the average call duration is 4 minutes, 52 seconds, an 18 percent increase from 2014, indicating that marketers are getting better at generating quality phone calls.
  • Not all states call at the same frequency — The states/​districts with the most calls per capita are Washington, D.C., Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia. Those with the fewest calls per capital are Alaska, Iowa, New Hampshire, Hawaii and Vermont.

Omnichannel Mix Varies by Industry

Invoca’s research shows that phone calls are increasing across industries, and particularly for industries characterized by high-​value purchases and/​or customers who need personalized assistance. Though these industries are also investing heavily in digital channels, phone calls remain a critical point of contact for customers who need additional information or are ready to make a purchase.

  • Home Services, as an industry, decreased its investment in offline channels in 2015. In 2014, offline channels, such as radio, TV and newspapers, drove 32 percent of calls. In 2015, only six percent of calls were the result of offline drivers. By contrast, calls driven by mobile sources increased from 53 percent to 62 percent in 2015, and those from other online sources doubled from 16 percent to 32 percent.
  • Automotive is undergoing a massive shift from offline to online and mobile sources; the industry saw a 119 percent increase in digital sources driving calls in 2015, compared to 2014. One possible explanation for the dramatic jump is Google’s carousel ad platform, which was released last year to select industries, including automotive. By making online searches more dynamic, the platform may have increased investments in digital ads.
  • Financial Services migrated in 2015 from offline to digital spend. In 2014, the industry drove 44 percent of its calls from offline channels, and only 29 percent from online channels. In 2015, the trend flipped — only 26 percent came from offline channels, and 48 percent came from digital.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.