Voice still drives business today, especially in sales and marketing. Irv Shapiro, CEO of the voice-based marketing automation firm Ifbyphone, explained why voice and phone-based sales will still be a fixture in marketing for a long time to come.
Shapiro pointed to statistics that confirm the importance of the role of voice in marketing and sales. A 2013 study by Google showed that 70% of people performing searches on their mobile devices call a business directly after they find its phone number. “It makes sense,” Shapiro said. “Tapping a click-to-call link on your smartphone is much easier than trying to fill out a web form on your device’s tiny screen.”
The same Google study also noted that phone numbers encourage trust. Sixty one percent of respondents reported that they believe it is important for businesses to give them a phone number to call. Thirty three percent of respondents would be less likely to use and refer their friends to brands that do not supply phone numbers. “Consumers see phone numbers as a sign that a business is trustworthy,” Shapiro emphasized.
In addition, inbound calls drive revenue. A survey carried out by the research firm BIA/Kelsey stated that 61% of businesses consider inbound phone calls to be “excellent” leads. Respondents considered inbound phone calls better than any other type of lead. “It’s why marketers are spending $68 billion annually on ads to generate those sought-after inbound sales calls,” Shapiro remarked.
Shapiro added that today’s phone systems are technologically advanced and easy to deploy. “Traditional phone system solutions were complex because a single implementation had to handle telephones as devices and telephony as an application,” Shapiro explained. However, voice-based marketing automation technology (VBMA) decouples the dial tone from voice applications. “By decoupling the dial tone from applications, we significantly simplified implementations and make VBMA accessible to a much wider audience,” Shapiro commented. Although the description of the process might sound daunting, Ifbyphone’s CEO believes the ease of implementation will allay those fears. “Marketers might at first find themselves intimidated by the idea of a brand new, “techy” technology, but one look at the ease of implementation will lure them over the chasm,” he asserted.
In spite of the ease of implementation, Shapiro acknowledged that barriers exist to adopting VBMA technology. “Telephony is messy,” he admitted. “It’s complex and not as accessible as traditional web technologies.” Shapiro does not see the complexity of VBMA as a reason not to deploy it, though. “The messiness is a barrier, but hardly an insurmountable one,” he remarked. Implementing VBMA technologies requires certain prerequisite capabilities on the part of IT professionals. “To build a solution that measures call volume and correlates it properly with web traffic requires expertise in both telephony and current web technologies,” Shapiro commented. While this dual expertise is not common, it is not impossible to find.
Businesses that ignore the power of VBMA do so at their own peril. “Since voice-based communications are so fundamental to human existence, it is impossible to believe that it won’t be a required part of commerce forever,” Shapiro stated. Living in the Digital Age means that consumers have a number of options to communicate with companies. “The unique characteristic of our time is that we now can apply multiple modalities to our commercial relationships,” he said. Although some transactions are easier to carry out on a website or in person, the role of the phone call still has importance and will not disappear so quickly. “Sales organizations that service the customer in the modality they prefer will maximize their results, and the research proves—time and time again—that customers do still want to talk,” Shapiro concluded.
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