Tapping Into Phone Data


For all marketers, B2B marketers in particular, the telephone has long been both a great friend and a big problem. Telephones are a great friend, because someone who calls you, particularly if it’s in response to your advertising, is a top quality prospect. At the same time, telephone calls resulting from ad campaigns have remained difficult to count, measure and evaluate.

And it’s not for lack of trying. I go back in this industry long enough to remember the glory days of “key phone” numbers. In essence, publishers would convince advertisers to use a dedicated phone number in each ad campaign as a crude way to track results. This approach worked, but because they really only yielded call counts, all they could do is prove a point for the publisher. Key phone yielded very little insight into the nature and quality of these calls.

Lest you think key phones are a dated concept, it’s interesting to note that this is essentially what Google is doing with its recent launch of call tracking for AdWords. Intriguingly, Google hasn’t really advanced this technology much – it’s all about using dedicated phone numbers to count the calls generated by your AdWord campaign.

Yes, for 30 years, call tracking technology hasn’t advanced very much. At least that’s what I thought until I recently ran across a company called Convirza.

Convirza offers basic call counting. But it goes much, much further. It has developed software that analyzes every incoming call (most companies already announce that incoming calls may be recorded, putting to bed any privacy issues), actually listening to each call to provide a call quality score. It can measure the outcome of the call, presumably by listening for keywords, to measure call conversion rate. It can even flag calls where it feels the salesperson left money on the table by not trying to upsell or cross-sell the customer. More generally, it can provide a quantitative assessment of the quality of each salesperson’s selling skills.

But wait, there’s more. Convirza integrates with marketing automation software, and can even be used to adjust online ad spending in real-time. If a particular program is generating a solid percentage of calls that convert, that program can be immediately scaled up.

This isn’t even everything that Convirza does, but you get the idea. By analyzing and deconstructing recorded phone conversations, Convirza is generating high-value, actionable data where none existed before. And stunningly, it’s left Google in the dust, because while Google is fine for counting calls, Convirza solves for the “last mile” problem: whether or not that call converted.

We should follow Convirza’s example and expand our thinking about how to extract data from unconventional sources to solve real-world business problems. It’s also a technology that advertising-based publishers could likely adapt to provide not only proof of performance, but a remarkable level of added value to their online advertisers.