As part of February’s Partner Chronicles, PerformanceIN interviews Sandra Pigram, Head of Partnerships at Delacon, the advanced call tracking and recording analytics platform. She talks about the opportunity for implementing a call tracking strategy for partner and affiliate marketing.
Before we get into the world of call tracking and how Delacon and call tracking drive increased ROI and revenue for partnerships, it would be great to hear about your path to your role there. Can you give us a quick overview of how you got to your current role?
Sandra Pigram: Actually, a really interesting story. I was heading a consulting business specialising in influencer marketing for Enterprise companies. We were working with a particular client on their e-commerce strategy and as part of this, we had a very famous influencer driving incredible volumes of traffic to their site. With our analytics, we realised that online sales were only increasing marginally. And when we met with the client to discuss, they told us that the phone call volumes had gone through the roof. I contacted some colleagues and asked who we should work with on the call tracking. Delacon was highly recommended. I researched the company and I loved what they did so much, that I ended up joining the Delacon team in a Partnerships role.
Can you talk about Delacon technology and how it fits into cross-channel or omnichannel partnership marketing?
SP: The evolution of digital marketing showed early on that companies desired a push for transactions and interactions to all be online; self-service was the key to reducing support services; down-sizing call centres, and closing stores. All the costly channels were going to be replaced by cheaper online experiences. However, consumers had a different idea. We are all humans at the end of the day, and the consumer will decide where and how they want to interact with a brand. A company can’t really dictate to the consumer – oh, well they can- but at the risk of their competitors filling those gaps which they leave open. However, digital assets, media, and channels can be the start of the journey for the customer. They may see an ad from a partner or publisher that leads them to a website where they do their research. From there, customers may compare other offers or brands. They may then choose to transact online or over the phone or go into a store. So, the digital channel that initiates all this- it is so important. Because digital marketers want to identify these successful initiations, and then replicate and grow them.
In order for digital marketers to do this, they need to be able to track and analyse all paths that lead to a purchase (both online and offline). This is where the Delacon call tracking solution comes into play. We track the online source through to the offline phone call. This technology tracks all sources online by capturing each user’s session data and then shows that particular user a unique phone number. When the user calls using that unique number, the session information is passed through to the online analytics platforms and CRM systems. The call is transferred to the contact centre. When a lead is registered or a sale is made, the company can see where the call initiated from, i.e., a Google paid ad, individual affiliate, partnership channel, video marketing, social, etc. Call tracking is an essential tool to have in place if the organisation values phone calls for leads and sales. Without such technology, the marketers are only reporting half the story and making decisions on insufficient data.
If there is a high performing Affiliate or Partner that is driving traffic to the website, and then customers are making calls that lead to sales – Brands need to be rewarding those channels efficiently. They need to ensure they know exactly which Affiliates or Partners are worth nurturing and developing. There is power for marketers in the data.
Forgive the directness of this next question, but do people actually make calls to companies these days? Who are the people who make calls as part of the buying process?
SP: Actually, phone calls have quadrupled in the last few years. In fact, in 2020 consumers will make 169 Billion calls to business globally. And the trajectory keeps ramping from there. With smartphones being ubiquitous, we have become more impatient as consumers. Many calls are made where consumers want to speak to a real person. Or it is convenient to speak about their query. Or to obtain essential information quickly. Or to get a sense of trust in the organisation or to accomplish something that can’t be done on the website (bulk transactions, B2B, complex sales.) As well as many other reasons.
Many companies I speak to tend to ask “ isn’t it just the older demographic that makes calls?” – Though this is not at all correct. We have a travel company that is getting calls from their Snapchat ads from inside the app. The simple answer is that calls are coming from all demographics, and it is more about what the product or service is – as to whether someone is going to phone. If it is a true e-commerce product, then generally, if I am buying a pair of shoes, I don’t need to call the company. If instead, I am getting a home loan; or buying health insurance (young demographic); or considering a significant spend on a travel package, or there is a B2B aspect- consumers of all shapes, sizes and demographics tend to prefer to pick up the phone and have a conversation.
Where do calls and telephone conversations fall in the buyer journey?
SP: Research shows that most buyers (61%) consider calling in the “buying-phase” of the shopping experience. Meaning, these are hot leads, and no-one makes a phone call unless they need something. It is time-consuming, so it indicates real interest if a customer picks up the phone. In fact, 65% of businesses consider phone calls as their highest quality lead source.
For which consumer categories are phone-based sales and support most important? Why do you think that is?
SP: We have strong verticals where organisations are dependent upon phone calls to reach their sales KPIs. Those include Travel, Banking and Finance, Insurance, Telcos, IT providers, B2B sales, Education, Energy and Utilities, Consulting services, Government service providers as well as many others. The main reason these verticals value phone calls from consumers is that the sale could be complex, or that there is a substantial investment from the consumer. The consumer is not going to hand over their hard-earned spend without qualifying the company properly.
In your work with Partnerize and other platforms and networks, how has comprehensive mobile measurement affected channel sales?
SP: When a call tracking solution like Delacon works with a partnership platform like Partnerize or a network, then a true view of those sources and channels that are driving leads and sales is achieved. This depth of data can lead organisations to move media spend and focus. A smart partnership platform like Partnerize enables the Delacon integration and then we capture the session information upon where the phone call happens, and the click ref and campaign information is also captured. We pass this information back to the platform, which is able to report on and pay the affiliate or partner for the lead/sale. It’s very easy. It also enables strategic commissioning ie: pay the partner more for a sale and less for a lead. Or any number of variations like, duration of the phone call; which department the consumer chose to speak with ie: sales vs support department.
Here’s an example of a channel that was nearly given up on: I work with a company that was going to turn off all their Facebook Ads as “they weren’t working”. Until we reported the effect their ads were having on leads and sales via the phone contact centre – that was generated from paid Facebook spend. The company then decided to move more investment into that channel and is now working with Influencers via that channel to drive more leads and sales. Granular reporting to that level is so important to ensure you have a good channel mix, and not missing out on valuable opportunities.
What do you say to people who say they are interested in call tracking, but also say that it is not a top priority?
SP: Well, usually when we start engaging with a brand that is interested, they already know they have a huge black hole in their data and want it plugged. If you are a CMO, you have to report to the board that if you are spending $1 on media you need to get $5 back. If you don’t have call tracking in place, you would be underreporting on the level of new business that digital delivers and miscalculating CPA on digital channels. That is an incredible mismatch for the organisation and missing critical information is risky, especially if you are pitching to get additional media spend.
From a product standpoint, what’s coming up for brands and partners from Delacon?
SP: Excitingly, we have been developing our Speech Analytics programme for the last 3 years. We have been working with many brands and delivering their “unknown” outcomes of what actually happens on a call. The phone call is so rich in data – there are huge volumes of consumers phoning organisations, and most of those organisations do not know what happens on the call. Or why there was a call made in the first place.
Our AI-powered programme records all the calls, transcribes to text and then provides the data on what the call was about: Was it for Sales? A compliant call? What was the sentiment of the caller? What products or services were they enquiring about? What brands were they interested in? What questions did they have?
The adaptation and use of cases for the programme are unending. The intel provided back to clients has been “business-changing”. In how they run their business, how they structure their service divisions and call centres, what products and services they advertise, and how they manage compliance. It is super exciting to see the outcomes of every programme that we run. And the accuracy is extraordinary. Machine vs human, we are experiencing 95% accuracy.
Lastly, what parting words of advice do you have for clients looking to fill their call tracking and recording?
SP: If your phone calls are important to a business, there is really no better investment to streamline marketing and understand the pathways customers prefer. Call tracking can make a world of a difference and because it easily integrates with many of the platforms already in use for analytics (GA, Adobe Analytics, Salesforce, Partnerize, Full Story, Optimizely – the list goes on), it’s a very easy and valuable addition to your marketing stack.