my turn


Don't Hang Up! Smartphones Are Phones

People use them to make calls. Marketers are people, too, but one gets the feeling sometimes — when shopping on a mobile device, interacting on a brand’s site, or responding to a mobile pitch — that some don’t remember this. The “call” option, in these cases, is relegated to the marketing equivalent of the appendix, the vestigial organ we don't use anymore. The appendix on some marketers' mobile sites would be where they put their mailing address and “About Us.” 

But leaving the phone call on the hook when mapping out mobile sales, marketing and CRM platforms is a huge mistake. Yes, a person is expensive, and an algorithm is free, but the data is clear: people make calls. I've seen it myself. When brands serve a mobile ad to phones, or pay for mobile search optimization, however that works, they should optimize for phone calls. P.T. Barnum once said, "The medium is the message." (Okay, I was just checking your attention level. It was The Amazing Randi, actually). The medium here is a device that is still kind of physically difficult — and sometimes dangerous — to use for finger-walking exercises. 



No doubt there is a demographic bias at work here: I'm a young Boomer, though that is now an oxymoron, and prefer to make a phone call when I can. I don't really get that smug feeling of propriety when I successfully order online. I don't get that “Aren't I just the digital silver-surfer today” feeling in my chakras. I will forget my password this afternoon. Someone's system will not answer my question at some point. I will, before dinner, nearly trip on a curb because I was trying to retype a pizza order. 

Santa Barbara, Calif.-based mobile marketing firm Invoca (which I herewith reveal has a dog in this fight) has some interesting data on this, data that supports human nature and, therefore, Marshall McLuhan. Their 2015 Call Intelligence Index says phone calls have a 30% to 50% conversion rate versus around 2% for clicks. It also says 70% of people called a business directly from a mobile search ad. 

Last year, calls through its system increased 38% across industries, with 54% of those coming from mobile marketing efforts and 45% from mobile search. The company gets into specifics here, in terms of what kinds of things people really want to use their phones (as phones) for. Interestingly, 75% of people want quick answers, things you'd imagine they'd actually just use their fingers for; 54% want longer answers; and 51% just do it for the reasons I do: convenience. The company says 52% of people who connect with a business after a mobile search do so over the phone, and 61% said click-to-call is most valuable in the purchase phase of shopping. 

The top five verticals for volume were insurance, home services, financial services, education and auto dealers. 

Invoca gets its data from an analysis of 32 million calls, a representative sample of calls that ran through its platform last year. The calls spanned over 40 verticals and sub-verticals.

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