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Today’s buyer journey is rarely linear, and customers will interact with your brand across channels from web to phone to social media and voice assistants. This presents a vexing challenge for data-driven marketers: how can you profitably acquire customers and drive lifetime value if you can’t piece all these touchpoints together? In order to bridge the online-offline divide that occurs when customers jump from the digital realm to the phone, marketers often find themselves shopping call tracking and analytics solutions.

Back in they day, call tracking solutions were seen as the domain of the call center. They were primarily used to monitor call quality, customer service, call volume, and basic customer information. As digital marketers who spend their time and budgets driving phone calls began clamoring for call data, new platforms and technologies have been developed.

As call tracking for marketing has evolved, some platforms now match the sophistication of today’s digital marketers, while others strive to meet the needs of small or local business, and still others have simply become basic, low-buck solutions.

On that, there are some critical differences that you should be aware of before choosing a call tracking and analytics solution.

Why Analyzing Phone Calls is Critical for Digital Marketers

Before we jump into the difference between call tracking platforms, let’s look at why would you need one of these solutions in the first place.

Over the last several years, we’ve poured money into technologies that create marketing intelligence by unifying digital touchpoints, often with great results. However, for brands in which phone calls represent a major part of their customer journey, online-to-offline intelligence was previously inaccessible.

Marketers who care about inbound calls need more context. They want to see all the touchpoints that led to a call, and what happened during the call so they know what action to take after the call.

Call analytics designed for marketers offers the type of data and metrics from phone calls that you’ve become accustomed to getting from digital touchpoints. Just like you track clicks from an email campaign, call tracking provides data from inbound calls like call outcomes, duration, call volume, customer demographics and, of course, keyword attribution that allow you to precisely target advertising that drives phone calls.

As you dive into marketing technology that provides call data, you will find that there are some more basic, traditional solutions and modern AI-powered platforms. Here’s what you need to know before making a decision.

Traditional Call tracking may only provide part of the picture

Chances are that marketers who care about phone calls have considered tackling the online-to-offline challenge with a traditional call tracking solution. These can provide marketers with valuable call data like call volume, call times and duration, caller information, and some level of campaign attribution. However, legacy call tracking solutions have some major limitations for marketers who want to leverage call data to inform their marketing in real time.

Traditional call tracking:

    • Ignores the larger customer journey, providing (at best) a snapshot of the last touchpoint before a call
    • Does not provide important context about the nature of the call, such as call drivers, call outcomes, and other conversation analytics
    • Fails to provide a rich profile of the caller, for example, identifying existing customers vs new customers
    • Lacks the deep integrations with other marketing platforms that marketers need to orchestrate the overall customer journey
    • Cannot provide adequate data to automate next-step marketing processes like retargeting and suppression

Imagine a website analytics solution that counted webpage visits, but couldn’t track referrals, report bounce rates, failed to provide any consumer data, couldn’t fire custom events, and didn’t integrate with any other systems. That’s how you should look at legacy call tracking: valuable to a degree, but woefully lacking in delivering anything but the most basic analytics.

Adopting a basic solution represents a solid first step for digital marketers who want to begin understanding how their marketing efforts are driving inbound calls. After all, having the ability to correlate phone calls to online campaigns is better than nothing! But to begin harnessing the power of call data, you’ll need a solution that offers more robust capabilities.

How AI-Powered Call Tracking and Analytics bridges the online-offline data gap

Today’s more advanced call tracking platforms pick up where the old ones leave off by unearthing rich data about the call, attributing the call to the entire digital journey, and providing the data required to automate marketing actions after the call like retargeting and suppression. This provides the kind of data and flexibility that you would expect from online analytics and marketing automation tools.

Platforms like Invoca provide the following capabilities in a single platform:

  1. Track calls and attribute them to pre-call consumer touchpoints like paid search, social, display, or email
  2. Unify data across multiple sources including web, CRM, or other offline data to create a rich caller profile
  3. Analyze phone conversations with tools to derive insight around call drivers, behaviors, and outcomes
  4. Push this newly created intelligence out to the rest of the marketing stack for marketing automation, analysis, optimization, personalization, and audience expansion

What marketers can do with it

Armed with powerful call intelligence, digital marketers can optimize marketing performance, personalize the caller experience, enhance the end-to-end customer journey, and expand audience reach. Let’s break down each of these applications.

Optimize marketing performance. Most marketers find immediate bang-for-the-buck by applying newly discovered call insights to optimize their marketing programs and media spend. With AI-powered call outcome predictions, insights into call quality, and granular reporting, not only do marketers get credit for the conversions that they’ve been driving all along, but they can maximize marketing ROI because they can finally understand what’s really working to drive inbound calls and what isn’t. And because this data can be pushed into your preferred marketing application (e.g. AdWords, Adobe Analytics, DoubleClick, Google Analytics, and Salesforce) you can take the “set-it-and-forget-it” approach and leverage real-time call conversion reporting to automate your marketing optimization.

Personalize the caller experience. Advanced call tracking offers a lot than more than just improved visibility and data. It also provides you the tools to automate and personalize the caller experience. This gives you the ability to qualify and route calls based on custom rules and logic based on factors like geolocation, time of call, product interest, page context, shopping cart activity, and more. By intelligently routing calls based on pre-call data, marketers can improve conversion rates, enhance the customer experience, and ensure that call center agents are focusing on revenue-driving calls. You can even pass caller insights to agents before the call is connected to arm them with vital contextual information so they can tailor their approach and deliver a more personalized experience.

Enhance the entire customer journey. The customer journey doesn’t end after a phone call. Like any touchpoint, it’s only a single step in an overall customer relationship with a brand. Like digital data, call data can (and should) be used to enhance the overall customer journey. Each phone call provides tons of new information about a caller, including demographic data, product interest, buying stage, customer type, and more. By pushing data into platforms like a CRM or marketing automation system, marketers can orchestrate the next action, be it a personalized follow-up email, a more relevant retargeting ad, or a personalized website experience.

Expand audience reach. Finally, the right call tracking platform can enhance your other marketing tools to expand reach and target likely buyers. Integrations with platforms like Facebook, AdWords, and DMPs like Adobe Audience Manager make it possible to model look-alike audiences from a seed dataset resembling customers who have called and converted.

Knowing that a phone call occurred is only half the battle. You need granular campaign attribution to understand why customers are calling, gain real-time intelligence about who’s calling, and analyze what’s being said in conversations.

Simply put, a modern call tracking platform a vital piece of the martech stack for marketers that care about inbound phone calls. With it, you finally have access to the type of actionable data you’ve come to expect from digital marketing analytics to gain insight from phone calls.