The average CMO tenure is the shortest of all C-suite titles — often 4 years or less, depending on the industry.

It’s a challenging position. Today’s CMOs are expected to drive sales, be accountable for ROI, and own the entire customer experience – online and offline. The best ones embrace the evolving demands of the role, becoming data-centric and performance-oriented. Others run the risk of being forced out – Forrester predicts that many CMOs will be replaced by Chief Growth Officers and Chief Customer Officers.

To succeed today, CMOs must drive growth – and prove it. Successful CMOs establish credibility at the board level by eliminating the perception of marketing as overhead. Instead, they link marketing activities directly to measurable business outcomes – most importantly, revenue growth – and base their marketing strategies on what is proven to drive the best return for the business.

To score wins with the CEO and board quickly and better secure their position, CMOs should look at an often-neglected channel: consumer calls.

Consumer Calls Are an Untapped Growth Channel for Many Brands

Even in today’s digital world, calls from consumers are often a business’s most valuable leads. A Forrester study found that on average callers convert 30% faster to revenue, spend 28% more, and churn 28% less than consumers who contact businesses online.

Consumer calls – whether to contact centers, offices, stores, or dealerships – are especially important to the success of marketing campaigns in industries with complex, expensive, or urgent purchases – such as automotive, insurance, financial services, travel, home services, and healthcare. Those consumers often need to speak to a live person to get assistance before booking an appointment or finalizing a purchasing decision.

Ironically, it’s because of the rise of digital marketing – not in spite of it – that calls have experienced a resurgence as a conversion channel. In 2019, calls to businesses from consumers engaging with digital marketing on their smartphones will exceed 162 billion, more than doubling the total from 2014.

CMOs that haven’t applied the same rigor to inbound calls as they have to online conversions can realize immediate benefits from incorporating data-driven strategies for the call channel.

Attribute Calls from Marketing Source to Sale

The ROI reports and KPIs CMOs present to the board should include attribution on consumer calls, not just online conversions. By measuring calls generated from marketing strategies, channels, and campaigns and their impact on revenue, CMOs can more accurately link marketing activities and spend to business outcomes. They can prove their true ROI and more accurately forecast the results of future initiatives.

It’s a strategy that is working well for many industry leaders. One of the world’s largest automakers attributes the calls their digital advertising and websites generate to their network of 1,200 US dealerships. They also connect those callers to subsequent vehicle sales. By capturing attribution on calls, their North American head of marketing is able to get credit for helping to drive 59% more revenue on average each month.

Arbor Memorial, one of Canada’s largest cemetery and funeral service providers, also attributes calls generated by their marketing to their 150 business locations. That attribution data on callers is integrated with their CRM system, connecting calls from marketing to resulting sales. It enables Arbor Memorial to attribute 150% more revenue on average from their marketing spend than if they only attributed online conversions.

Drive Growth by Optimizing for What Drives the Best Results

By understanding which strategies, channels, and campaigns drive the most valuable conversions – both online and over the phone – CMOs have the holistic data to make smarter optimizations to increase revenue and decrease cost per acquisition.

One of North America’s largest pest control companies uses search advertising to generate service appointments and customers. Besides attributing conversions made online through their website, the company also measures the calls their paid search campaigns send to their contact center and 400 locations. By optimizing for the search ads, keywords, and days/times driving the most online requests and calls that converted to customers, the company drove a 12% increase in revenue from paid search spend.

Route Callers Based on Their Profiles and Online Interactions

The experience when someone calls should be as frictionless, relevant, and personalized as the online experience. If brands raise consumer expectations through personalized digital advertising and website content but fail to deliver when the prospect calls, revenue suffers. Studies show that 84% of callers would cease doing business with a company after a negative call.

To provide winning experiences at scale, CMOs should have their online and call channels work together. Data and insights from each interaction should help inform, improve, and personalize the other. When consumers call, they expect to receive the right assistance right away. It’s important to connect them in conversation with the most appropriate agent or location immediately. Brands should use analytics on callers – including the channels, ads, search keywords, and webpages they called from; their geographic location; their stage of the customer journey; and the day and time of the call – to automatically route calls to the best location or agent to assist.

One of North America’s largest retail brands uses the call channel to support their online store. If a consumer is shopping on the retailer’s site, begins the checkout process, but calls the retailer’s contact center before finalizing a purchase, that caller is routed directly to a live agent to assist. By bypassing the standard IVR and call queues, these callers receive the immediate assistance they need to complete the purchase.

Target Callers with Personalized Digital Campaigns

When a consumer calls, that conversation provides a wealth of data marketers can use to determine next actions. Brands that understand where callers are in the customer journey, the product/service they are interested in, and their questions and needs are in an ideal position to target consumers with the optimal campaign or message to convert them.

Brands can retarget unconverted callers, for example, with a special offer across digital channels. For callers who converted to customers, put them into the most relevant upsell, cross-sell, or lookalike campaigns – or avoid wasting media spend by excluding them from seeing your ads altogether.

It’s an effective strategy for Comfort Keepers, a leading senior care provider with 450 locations. When someone calls a Comfort Keepers location and converts to a customer, the marketing team adds that caller to lookalike campaigns. They can then find new quality audiences that resemble those good callers and target them with display ads encouraging the consumer to call Comfort Keepers. This strategy generates 16x the conversions than the next best targeting tactic.

CMOs that focus on what occurs online while ignoring the call channel may struggle to prove ROI, make the right strategic decisions to drive growth, and deliver customer experiences that improve business results. Conversely, CMOs that incorporate the right strategies for calls can score important wins rapidly and position their brand – and themselves – optimally for the future.

To learn more, download the report, Four Strategies CMOs Can Use to Drive Growth in 2019.