Do call us, we won’t call you: How to decide whether to emphasize your phone number

You get home from a long day in your marketing department or agency. Whip up a quick dinner. And just when you’re about to bite into your arroz con pollo, you hear that dreaded ring.

I call this situation Dan’s Lament. Our associate editor, Daniel Burstein, was sounding off to me about this situation earlier today. For some reason, at least in his household, they only get one type of phone call around 7pm and that, of course, is the dreaded telemarketer.

Now telemarketing is illegal at some level in the United States, as it is in many other countries, and Dan is on the National Do Not Call Registry. Yet there are those loopholes that ensure his phone still rings at dinnertime. In the latest case, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wanted to discuss his fishing habits.

Surveys. Non-profits. Or my personal favorite…political push polls. They all have found a loophole.

The more you segment, the less you blindly dial for dollars

Say No To Robo-CallsI’ve really grown to hate telemarketers. Not so much because they prevent foodie friends of mine like Dan from enjoying a good winter vegetable salad with fresh, in-season kale, but rather as a professional marketer.

The technology and science behind segmentation have helped marketers target their message so much better than before, so I feel professionally insulted that someone would think they can, precisely at the dreaded 7pm, offer sandwich-toting Dan something he didn’t already think about buying in a store or online.

So I am a fan of do-not-call registries…even if they are only marginally effective.

Now I know what many of you may be thinking. “Wait a minute, Boris, I don’t mean to interrupt Dan’s enjoyment of a hearty winter vegetable salad or pastrami on rye, but these lists are a major challenge for me…I need to leverage the human touch for an upsell or to nurture a complex sale.”

The reality is that cultural and corresponding regulatory changes have led to a certain shift in the utilization of call centers, from making to taking calls. It’s not bad news. It’s great news for you savvy marketers that have the resources to leverage a call center, if you know how to do it profitably.

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Is automation right for you?

If you are a Web marketer reading this, you might be asking yourself “what does this have to do with me?” However, looking at marketing holistically may be precisely where you can maximize return on your marketing dollars, as the automation afforded by the digital medium is not a one-size-fits-all solution to all sales processes.

Yes, it’s cheaper to sell online. Yet you may be doing a better job of selling and cross-selling over the phone, even though it costs you more. The question is where the higher net profit lies.

As the resident KPI (that’s key performance indicator) Guy at MarketingExperiments, among other things, I want to reintroduce you to a KPI that is critical to inbound marketing. It is the same KPI what would have been applied to a telemarketing campaign just a few short years ago: cost per acquisition (CPA).

The obvious use of this metric is to understand how much you can afford to spend on a media buy. You may be more familiar with this metric in the demand generation realms (paid search, affiliate marketing, lead gen, etc.). However, in conjunction with a bottom-line metric, such as revenue (preferably, lifetime) per visitor (RPV), it can also provide you with critical insights for directing your marketing efforts and formulating your messaging.

Even though your site can now do many things that have replaced telemarketing – from further qualifying a lead to completing an order to even getting that upsell – don’t let technology guide your decisions. Depending on the nature of your product, the human touch can be so much more effective for any or all of these steps.

So the best thing to do is… wait for it… test!

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By varying the emphasis you place on calls to action that lead to a human interaction (phone number, live chat, call-me form), both in the layout of your pages (location, graphical weighting) and their prominence in the order process (from focusing the option as the primary action to not even mentioning it).

Experimenting with live chat is its own subject, as you can test how quickly (if at all) you want to turn the online chat into a phone conversation. You might even test a click-to-call button, although be wary of spam (and if you market in India, strict regulations).

What you’re trying to discover is whether the increased cost of acquiring a customer is offset or surpassed by an increase in closed orders, upsells, or higher-quality leads (e.g., for a complex sale, how does the increase in calls help your lead management efforts).

In other words, you will need to compare the change in CPA to the change in RPV (and depending on the nature of your business, both may need to be adjusted for the customer’s projected lifetime cost and value).

You have to be careful with how you juggle the numbers, as there are many potential pitfalls. Remember that your ultimate goal is increased profits. Depending on your business plan, your primary or close secondary goal is likely increased profits in the foreseeable future or over the customer’s lifetime. If adding human interaction results in sufficiently higher revenue per website visitor, it may be worth the extra cost.

But you’ll only know if you test. And use the right KPI.

How do you use inbound marketing, telesales, and customer service? What KPIs do you use to measure your success? Share your triumphs and ideas in the comments section of this post or start a conversation with your peers in the MarketingExperiments Optimization group.

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