For all the remarkable progress that Google, Bing -- and yes, even Yahoo -- have made in mobile search and display advertising, there's so much more that advertisers can achieve from having a direct link to consumers. Mobile searches generated 30 billion calls to businesses in 2013, and will prompt 73 billion more by 2018, according to BIA/Kelsey.
The call to action -- click to call -- on a mobile device when someone makes a phone call from a mobile device matters more today than it did in the past, according to a Forrester Research brief, Capture Customers With Click-To-Call, released this week. It not only initiates the connection between consumer and brand, but provides a lead for retargeting.
Online ads that once directed consumers to landing pages now initiate direct phone calls. Google’s call-only ads, for example, enable users to call by clicking on a link in the ad text or a call button. Twitter and Facebook offer call extensions, a button to place a call, with their in-stream ads.
Some 59% of U.S. online adults say they have been satisfied with their phone conversations with customer service agents in the past 12 months, according to Forrester's North American Consumer Technographics Customer Life Cycle Survey.
It's not enough to run click-to-call advertising, per Forrester. The strategy requires metrics and measurement. While call analytics platforms like Twilio and CallMiner measure the number and duration of inbound calls to help call centers decrease customer service costs, Invoca and Marchex provide insight into caller motivation, semantic analysis, and call outcomes to help inform marketing messages, offers, and pricing.
Forrester put together a best use guide scenario, providing insight to marketers about the best times to use click-to-call advertising or calls to action.
1) When mobile offers a greater utility than desktop. Red Roof Inn developed a click-to-call program targeting drivers stuck in traffic. Starwood Hotels saw 20% growth in mobile reservations from last-minute bookings through click-to-call.
2) Create a direct response with the brand. Mountain Dew used click-to-call ads on Twitter to generate sweepstake entries with 78% of calls lasting longer than 30 seconds.
3) A better mobile experience. Click-to-call ads cut the landing page out of the search conversion -- a temporary fix for marketers that value search engine demand, but don’t have a mobile-optimized site.
The move to click to call isn't without challenges, per Forrester. The analyst firm says the program will only be as good as the inbound call center or support on the other end of the phone. While it will boost telephone lead volume by at least 10%, companies will need to change their open hours or even head count. Those who answer the phones will need to have answers, which may take some training.
Finally, words chosen by a caller provide "better evidence of their emotional state than digital behavior," per the report. It may require using speech analytics in the call center to support the change in behavior.