Why marketers shouldn’t ignore click-to-call

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Let’s say, as a marketer, you have a retail brand client, who wants to take advantage of diverse and exciting marketing tools. You decide to incorporate click-to-call in your marketing scheme.

A customer searches on Google or Facebook and finds this retailer. Instead of physically dialing the company, the customer clicks on the number or an advertisement and they are automatically connected to a person at the firm.

Click-to-call, otherwise known as click-to-talk or click-to-text, is a kind of digital communication that allows an individual to click a button to immediately be connected with somebody else in real-time.

In 2014, digital marketers spent about $4 billion on this marketing tactic, and it’s quickly proving to be a valuable investment for brands looking to engage with potential customers.

Inside the Enormous Click-to-Call Industry

This type of technological innovation is showing it’s an important marketing strategy. Why? It’s producing $1 trillion in annual sales, says a new survey conducted by Marchex, a mobile advertising analytics firm.

According to the 2015 Click-to-Call Commerce Report, there have been more than 80 billion calls through ads on an array of websites, including Google, Yelp and Facebook. This form of marketing isn’t designated for a specific industry. A large number of industries are getting in on the action, including financial services, insurance, home services, health care and personal care.

And there aren’t any signs that advertisers, brands or websites are relenting anytime soon. It’s expected the $1 trillion figure will nearly double within the next three years. We shouldn’t be surprised, considering that millennials, who are the dominant users, haven taken over the consumer landscape.

“Marketers are allocating more time to understand how to reach mobile consumers, especially millennials,” said John Busby, SVP of Consumer Insights for the Marchex Institute. “Our data shows that for many types of purchases, millennials prefer to contact a business directly by phone, and then are following through with purchases.”

Here are a few revealing statistics from Marchex’s new report released last month:

  • Three out of four calls to advertisers are made with an intended purchase.
  • Millennials are more likely than any other age group to make a click-to-call.
  • Up to one-fifth of mobile ad calls are unanswered.
  • About half of mobile ad calls are spam, misdials or robocalls.

The one important statistic in this list is that 20 percent of mobile ad calls are abandoned because of long wait times. This means that companies are potentially losing out on billions of dollars.

It has been reported that both Google and Facebook are targeting this multi-billion-dollar industry. As smartphone use and mobile searches become the norm, the search engine and social network want to be the go-to websites to facilitate the connection between the consumer and the brand.

Google dug up some of its own research. It discovered that 70 percent of mobile searchers say they click to call directly from the search results page to contact a business they’re interested in. It’s estimated that the number of calls from Google extensions could exceed 100 million in November.

Facebook, meanwhile, released a feature last year that allowed company numbers to show up automatically on its native dialers. For instance, if you want to contact a good restaurant and book a table then its number will show up on a Facebook page and you can phone them from the social network as opposed to searching on Google.

Who should use it?

Despite the celebratory tone and affinity for click-to-call, some don’t share that level of enthusiasm since this strategy challenges for many brands. Akin to other forms of mobile marketing, click-t0-call doesn’t fit for all business models and brands that are looking to boost sales the old-fashioned way.

“Sometimes on a smartphone that can do so many sophisticated things, it is easy to forget that the best solution for a marketer can often be the simplest one,” said Brendon Kraham, team manager of global mobile sales and strategy at Google.

Kraham added that it can be a lot more useful for an enterprise and a customer to speak with someone over the phone instead of perusing information on a website.

So who should be leveraging click-to-call advertising then? Marchex CEO Peter Christothoulou says that B2B firms should be taking advantage of it to accomplish two things: boost leads and increasing marketing decisions.

“As a B2B company ourselves, we receive many of our inbound leads as phone calls, and we are avid users of Google call extensions and other click-to-call advertising,” said Christothoulou in an interview with B2BNN. “We make our own marketing budget allocation decisions based on sales and leads through web forms and phone calls, and consider this one of the keys to our success.”

Indeed, he says, a click-to-call campaign should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

Any decision to move ahead with this concept should take into account the costs of handling call volumes and the possibility of improved customer support and increased conversions. Also, a paucity of an end-to-end tracking platform in place, whether it’s to measure call performance or revenues, can hurt your conversion funnel.

A lot of business experts note that the B2B industry is still in an antiquated mode. A click-to-call ad campaign could be something to reinvigorate and shakes things up for any B2B firm.

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Andrew Moran

Andrew Moran is a full-time professional writer and journalist, who covers the areas of business, economics and personal finance. He has contributed to Benzinga, Capital Liberty News, Career Addict, Money Morning and PFHub.