In this guest post, CEO of Delacon, Michael Center (pictured below), argues in favour of something we don’t hear too much a bout these days – the good old fashioned telephone…
It’s 142 years since Alexander Graham Bell made his first call on 10 March 1876 to his assistant Thomas Watson, where he uttered the words: ‘Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.’ While a revolution has taken place in how we communicate with each other in the nearly century and half later, the significance of the telephone in driving commerce is as relevant today as ever.
The advent of the internet had led some to predicted the demise of the telephone, but to twist the words of Mark Twain… reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
There’s no denying that the internet is a game changer. It has made it much easier and quicker for commerce to take place. Researching, comparing products or services and making the purchase can be done in mere clicks. But the telephone, both fixed line (yes they are still important) and mobile, still play a crucial role for consumers wanting to engage with brands and companies and it’s only predicted to increase.
Research from BIA/Kelsey a leading US based company focused on advertising and marketing, shows the global online to offline call commerce market is worth $1 trillion in the US alone. That’s trillion. In addition there were 85 billion calls made worldwide to businesses in 2016 and that figure is predicted to rocket to 169 billion by 2020.
Breaking down the research further, the top three reasons cited by consumers for calling a business are ‘to get an answer or accomplish a goal quickly’ followed by ‘to talk to real person’ and ‘I have more questions and need more information than the website can answer’. With the number of mobile phone users estimated to be 19.7 million in Australia, brands and advertisers, particularly in the automotive, technology, travel, finance and local services sectors, can’t ignore the importance of the telephone.
Telephone leads are valuable. Inbound calls to business are the best converting type of lead, with studies showing call leads convert between 10 to 12 times more than online leads. Higher value calls, or those that are more technical in nature, are also likely to convert more quickly.
Another factor driving the predicted rise in calls to 169 billion by 2020 is mobile search. Google reports mobile search in the US has now passed that from desktops and while Australia is still ahead in desktop, that is expected to change soon. Figures from Google show that 71% of mobile searchers make calls directly from their mobile search results and BIA/Kelsey predicts global click to call spending will rise to $13.7 billion by 2020.
For brands and advertisers, effectively measuring where these calls are originating from is vital to inform which marketing channels are working. Call analytics attributes the origins of all calls and give marketers the ability to optimise their campaigns to ensure that marketing spend goes to the channels which drive the best results.
The message for marketers is clear. Don’t hang up on the telephone. While it may be a stretch to think that in another 142 years, Alexander Graham Bell’s invention will still be ubiquitous, for now and in the years to come, call commerce will still play an important role in driving sales.