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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
Maximize Campaign Response Rate with Voice Communications
By Irv Shapiro, CEO & CTO, Ifbyphone

Many businesses believe they have achieved integrated marketing by incorporating e-mail, social media and mobile into their marketing mix. In reality, companies often fail to incorporate a key ingredient into their integrated campaigns: voice communications. Compelling research demonstrates the significance of voice communications, with more than 43% of all Internet search sales conversions happening over the phone today according to AdInsight research. Leads360 also cites that a sale is 22-times more likely to happen when you make contact within the first five minutes.

To provide some context, following is information from DMA's 2010 Response Rate Trend Report, which calculated the average direct marketing response rates in 2010 for telemarketing, e-mail, direct mail, catalogs and paid search:

• Response rates for Direct Mail have held steady over the years. Letter-sized envelopes, for instance, had a response rate of 3.42 percent for a house list and 1.38 percent for a prospect list.

• Paid search had an average cost per click of $3.79, with a 3.81 percent conversion rate.

• E-mail to a house list averaged a 19.47 percent open rate, a 6.64 percent click-through rate, and a 1.73 percent conversion rate.

• Catalogs had the lowest revenue per lead/order of $47.61.

• Outbound telemarketing had the highest response rate from prospects at 6.16 percent, as well as the highest revenue per lead of $309.25.

These stats reaffirm the value of implementing voice communications, as telephone outreach holds the highest response rate from prospects AND revenue per lead.

Maximize ROI with Call Tracking: Strategies Moving Forward

It is important for direct marketers to be able to maximize return on investment, effectively A/B test creative, and accurately measure response rates using call tracking solutions. While direct marketers are familiar with QR Codes, pURLS, coupons, and promo codes to measure response rates to campaigns, what happens if the call-to-action is a phone call? If you run direct response TV and radio ads, deliver postcards to niche markets, or run print ads across the country, how do you demonstrate marketing ROI? Here are four ways to get started:

1. Optimize ad spend by identifying the source of the lead
Many ads encourage customers to "call now." By implementing easy-to-remember unique numbers, you can track - in real-time - how many potential customers directly respond to each TV and radio ad, for instance. Based on results, it allows you to optimize ad spend moving forward.

2. Easily test creative
Many businesses send the same direct mail piece to their entire market, when they should be testing different messages and offers to understand which one resonates best. You can place a unique phone number on each marketing piece for easy A/B testing to determine which advertisement generated the best results.

3. Localize your message
You can know exactly what marketing piece prompted a phone call when you use call tracking numbers. It is valuable to create customized greetings like: "Thanks for viewing our ad in USA Today and calling to learn more about our XYZ product." It makes the interaction unique and personal.

4. Leverage the most qualified sales representatives
Call tracking works for online and traditional offline advertising. By placing a unique call tracking number on a print ad, billboard, or radio commercial, you can ensure those leads are then routed to the most appropriate sales representative based on qualifying questions.

If you're focusing on online campaigns, you can place distinct tracking numbers on banner ads for search engines, social media ads, e-mail marketing and classifieds pages. One company might obtain more value from advertising on Twitter versus LinkedIn, so measuring the performance of each campaign can help you make more valuable marketing decisions and maximize ROI.

Ultimately, if you don't use call tracking numbers, you don't know what ads are generating the highest quality and quantity of leads.

Get Higher Quality Leads Through Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is formally described as "the use of technology to generate, nurture, score, and qualify leads and drive sales using customized multi-touch marketing communications tailored for each lead in the buying process." Traditional marketing automation activities, however, often fail to include the phone -- when it is actually a crucial part of business.

It is important for marketers to understand that phone calls are often the highest quality form of lead. People who are ready to buy now pick up the phone and call; people in research mode typically go to a website to learn more. Leveraging call tracking data enables marketers to qualify these leads that come in (was it through a Google search, the website, or a direct mail piece?), which can then quickly be routed to the right person depending on location and/or needs.

For instance, inbound interactive voice response (IVR) technology can be used to provide callers with information automatically, or to ask them initial questions to better direct their call. Automating appointment reminders, for example, can help reduce time so employees can concentrate on other efforts. If someone fills out your contact form online, you can also automatically call that person to verify their phone number, ask a few qualifying questions, or play an informational message.

Businesses should assess their current integrated marketing strategy to ensure it includes the key elements of voice communications. Tracking phone calls and engaging in marketing automation through voice communication empowers companies to effectively route leads, optimize ad spend, provide more personalized marketing and ensure they are truly facilitating integrated campaigns.

About the Author:
Irv Shapiro is responsible for overall business strategy and corporate leadership at Ifbyphone. Irv's successful entrepreneurial experience includes founding Metamor Technologies in 1985. Under Irv's leadership, Metamor was named an Inc. 500 company for two consecutive years, growing to over 500 employees and $32 million in revenues. In 1997, Metamor was sold for $38 million to CORESTAFF. In 14 months at CORESTAFF following Metamor's sale, Irv participated in 10 acquisitions, directed the growth of Metamor to $52 million in sales and helped to architect the creation of a $250 million consulting services group. He founded Edventions in 1999, which was sold to Edison Schools in 2001, then he spent a year as the COO of Jemmco, a $500 million hedge fund. Prior to founding Metamor, Irv spent 5 years at Digital Equipment Corporation as the Data Communications Expertise Center Manager. You can contact Irv at: ishapiro@ifbyphone.com

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