Unlock Mobile Advertising by Measuring the Real World

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by John Busby
From the boardroom to the bus stop, you need only look around to see that smartphones are everywhere. “Sent from my iPhone” email signoffs are ubiquitous, and major corporations are integrating mobile apps like Periscope into their marketing strategy to boost customer engagement.

Like it or not, mobile has surpassed print, TV, and desktop as the primary mode of communication between companies and consumers.

The upside for advertisers is that when mobile consumers never—or rarely—go fully offline, they become more accessible and more engaged than ever.

But here’s where things get tricky: Mobile consumers also behave quite differently. They are more deliberate, focused, and resentful of interruptions. They use their devices differently than desktop consumers, and they want to get something different out of the information they consume on those devices.

Often, that something different is in the “real-world.” The mobile device is a bridge between the Internet “online world” and the physical world, and it is changing how consumers are purchasing products and services.

In fact, smartphone-influenced offline purchases (made in stores or over the phone) are 20 times greater than smartphone-influenced online purchases (m-commerce).

For advertisers, adapting to this shift and optimizing campaigns for mobile could be the difference between barely staying afloat and becoming industry leaders.

Here are four ways to boost your mobile ROI.

1. Craft your communications with context in mind

Compared with the desktop, mobile is an entirely different animal. On desktops, the most common response to an online search or advertisement is a website visit. On smartphones, the most common responses to a mobile search are offline—either a phone call or an in-store visit.

As a result, new mobile advertising formats have emerged, such as click-to-call buttons. When Google first launched “call extensions,” its click-to-call ad unit within mobile search advertisements in 2010, it was immediately popular with consumers and advertisers and generated millions of phone calls each month. In 2015, we expect call extensions will produce nearly one billion phone calls.

Furthermore, in a study released last September, Google found that nearly half of mobile consumers searching on their smartphones are more likely to explore other brands when they can’t call a business directly from their search results. Ads that have been optimized to allow click-through calls are simply more effective.

The bottom line? Advertisements that ignore a consumer’s desire to interact with a brand “offline” are likely missing the boat.

2. Consider the real-world ‘clickpath’

When a consumer visits a website, marketers use analytics tools to show us how consumers traverse that online experience, or clickpath. But, for mobile, the clickpath resides in the real-world. To use the phone call as an example: a consumer might press “1” for sales or “2” for customer service; tracking that information is critical for a marketer, as it conveys whether a campaign is reaching prospects or loyalists.

Using that information to improve a user’s offline experience can improve your ROI. Our studies of phone calls from smartphones to travel, auto, and cable industry clients reveal a common thread among leads with the most potential to convert in the “real-world”: When consumers have special requests that require talking to someone, they are much more likely to pick up the phone.

Of travelers who called hotels, the most common questions were regarding accommodations for a special event, a room upgrade, or amenities and discount rates.

In the auto industry, 74% of customers call to inquire about parts and services. Given that every repair is different, this fits neatly into the “special request” bucket.

In calls to cable providers, 40% of consumers asked providers about paying for specific channels, which strongly suggests that consumers want more freedom and flexibility to cherry-pick content. The data also indicates that the longer the contracts are, the less likely consumers are to sign up.

Understanding what consumers are likely to want before they pick up the phone is key to capitalizing on click-to-call sales opportunities.

With the hotel caller, for example, ads that call out discounts or special perks will be more likely to lure in deal seekers and VIP hopefuls. Car dealerships can up their game on repairs to build brand loyalty with and increase the odds that callers will become future clients. And by speaking to their a-la-carte options rather than emphasizing long contracts, cable companies can cater to their callers.

3. Invest in a measurement platform

It should be clear by now that the winners in e-commerce and PC-based advertising used Web analytics and big data to understand consumers and rev the marketing engine. In mobile, winners will employ the same tactic, this time investing in in-store analytic and call analytics.

Without a call analytics platform, if a marketer runs a series of click to call ads through a popular search engine, they have visibility only into campaign-level metrics. Google and Bing don’t provide data on the keywords that produce phone calls, and tracking stops when calls are initiated, so the marketer has no way to determine whether a call results in a conversion.

But with call analytics tools at their disposal, marketers can both track which keywords were linked to the lowest cost per call and also track which keywords had the lowest cost for calls that lead directly to sales. A recent case study found that this information reduced cost per acquisition 43% in just one month. Such information is crucial to slashing wasteful ad spending and reinvesting in top-performing campaigns.

4. Use real-world advertising data to improve your customer experience

Now you’ve seen how eye opening—and how effective—click to call data can be. But it doesn’t stop there. By using the same analytics tools to track peak call times and average call lengths—among others metrics—companies can unlock even more key business insights.

If, for example, a company finds that the vast majority of calls come in after normal business hours, reducing their headcount during slower times and adding more staffers for after-hours shifts will make their call center much more efficient.

Using travel industry data, marketers can learn something about how smarter call flows can save time and money. We’ve found that the majority of hotel loyalty program members don’t have account information readily available when reserving a room over the phone. Looking up traveler information wastes time and money. The process would be much more efficient—and more pleasant for the consumer—if travel companies implemented technology that recognizes a loyalty member’s mobile number and automatically presents all relevant account info to the agent.

While some of these insights are industry-specific, the principle is universal: By tapping into the data, businesses have a huge opportunity to optimize on everything from their ad campaigns to their product offerings. They simply need to listen to what consumers are already trying to tell them