In the increasingly omnichannel world of B2B marketing, marketers increasingly understand the importance of both digital and offline marketing. But how many marketers are suffering from a data blind spot the minute the phone rings? The inbound call has never been more important – and a new generation of call intelligence applications can help marketers connect the dots between omnichannel marketing and the call that closes the sale.
By Nick Ashmore
I can’t be the only B2B marketer who has, occasionally, looked on enviously at my B2C counterparts and the comparative simplicity of their consumers’ paths to purchase. Yes, there may still be incredibly competitive landscapes to navigate. And it can become more of a minefield if we’re talking about high-value products or services which typically involve extensive decision-making processes. However, in basic terms, it’s often a straightforward “research, validate, purchase” cycle that their customers follow to transact with a brand.
The life of a B2B marketer differs, to put it mildly. It’s impossible to make generalisations that sum up the B2B marketing profession on the whole, as the opportunities and pain points in each individual sector are so diverse. The upsurge of price comparison sites means businesses can now readily procure many utility-related services online, for example, and simple, low-cost B2B products are also as readily available via eCommerce as B2C items.
But it’s a stark fact that when it comes to many B2B goods and services – from high value capital assets to complex technologies – transacting online can be difficult, if not impossible. B2B marketers therefore spend their lives attracting and generating leads – and once an organisation is onboarded, we must also encourage customer loyalty. The goal is to move prospects through the funnel and retain them in the buying cycle.
The role of the telephone is often unprecedented in this scenario. Many savvy B2B marketers know the role that both offline and digital marketing campaigns play in fostering enquiries. They realise the impact that a strong UX can have when a visitor reaches their site. And they quite rightly make data-driven decisions in an attempt to optimise campaign effectiveness, especially as the scrutiny surrounding spend continues to mount.
As marketers assess the multichannel landscape, however, we must also acknowledge that, when they’re ready to engage, most of their prospects still pick up the phone. Statistics show that brands are more likely to close deals via the phone than via digital channels, with inbound calls proven to convert 20 percent higher than clicks. In the face of such evidence, why do we see so many CTAs in the B2B space driving people to complete enquiry forms? Why don’t we give prospects direct line numbers to encourage them to pick up the telephone?
This is undoubtedly because a number of B2B marketing departments are currently suffering from a tremendous blind spot – a gap in their knowledge and analysis, which happens when people move over to the phone to further their path to purchase. Marketers, and their contact centers, often don’t know what’s made the phone ring.
Call tracking can help combat this blind spot; marketers attach campaign-specific numbers to their marketing collateral so they can understand what channel or piece of communication has driven the call. This is helpful from an attribution perspective, to an extent. But that’s where the insight stops.
The MarTech industry – and specifically call tracking’s more sophisticated sibling, call intelligence – has had to evolve to bridge this gap, because B2B marketers can no longer afford to be so blind. In call intelligence applications, dynamic numbers – unique to an individual, rather than a campaign – enable a marketer to understand every single prospect or customer’s interaction with the brand, up until the point of them making a call.
Call intelligence also allows marketers to integrate data from multiple external sources to unravel the original source of an individual’s journey, the impact of PPC campaigns at keyword level, which pages were subsequently visited, for how long, and at what point they left to call. Marketers can even use call intelligence to identify when someone leaves the online experience and comes back.
Armed with this real-time, actionable insight, you can have a more tailored, meaningful conversation with that individual when they call. If they’re clearly a hotter lead at a more advanced stage in the funnel, there’s rationale to steer the conversation towards pricing. If it’s clear they’re only in the research phase, the dialogue might instead center upon a solution sell. In either case, call intelligence can subtly aid the conversion to a sale.
That’s not all: You can also attribute the call outcome, sales revenue, and other objective completions back to specific campaigns, enabling you to optimize marketing activities and budgets. Call intelligence removes the guesswork.
Yet despite the capabilities of call intelligence and the mass of pain points it can solve, only five percent of businesses that can benefit from the technology currently do so. In part, this lack of penetration is due to a limited understanding about the role call intelligence can play in a world where digital marketing continually makes waves. Many B2B marketers also feel somewhat swamped in an already complex MarTech landscape – the last thing they want to do is include another platform to try to manage.
Pick the right software, however, and it can lie at the very heart of the MarTech stack. Online and offline behaviors are not mutually exclusive after all – and marketers need to bridge the gap. And the phone, after all, is here to stay.
Nick Ashmore is Head of Marketing at ResponseTap.