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Improving response rates

Top tips on improving response rates when the marketing budget has been cut

Marketing in a downturn can be a frustrating exercise. If your budget has been cut you need to identify the source of enquiries from marketing and advertising. This involves ensuring that you have in place all the right monitoring processes – both telephone and online systems and then focusing religiously on the conversion process. In this white paper we look at an easy to follow process that will dramatically improve your marketing response.

Since 2002, Mediahawk has been working with companies to help them improve their response and conversion rates. A great deal of this improvement involves understanding the customer journey from when an advert is responded to, to finally concluding a sale. The tips we provide are based on years of experience analysing thousands of marketing campaigns. We have broken down how to improve your response rates into three different areas:-v

a) Conducting a response audit
b) Improving your marketing collateral
c) Improving your customer handling processes.

At the end of this white paper we have summarised the key steps to act as an easy to implement guide on improving your response rates in a downturn.

Conducting a Response audit
If you want to improve your marketing success, the first thing to do is understand what systems and processes you have in place in able to understand whether a campaign is successful. We call this a response audit; if you can understand how you generate and act on response you can create benchmarks to make improvements for the future. Conducting a response audit requires you to understand your customers’ interaction with your business and how you then capture customer enquiries. So that you can then monitor and control the processes, as a bare minimum you need to have in place the following:-

Call tracking
Call tracking is the allocation of specific telephone numbers to different types of marketing collateral (flyers, website, advertising), to enable customer responses to be captured. In much the same way as Google Analytics™, call tracking monitors how many telephone responses you get from marketing activity and displays the results through online management reporting. The results can show how many calls have been received, the location of callers, duration of the calls and will also highlight any missed calls. The reporting will also work out how much each lead has cost to generate, which is extremely useful to estimate the ROI from marketing.

Fig1: An example of how Mediahawk call tracking displays the number of calls generated from an advertising campaign.Each number is allocated to a different advert, flyer or website to enable the marketer to analyse how many calls each medium generated.

  • Online analytics
    As company websites now generate the majority of a company’s response, you should be using Google Analytics™ to see how the site performs. All analytics packages will throw out valuable data to allow you to understand what makes your website successful and leads to sales/enquiries. Constant monitoring of keywords and phrases that are used to search for a particular product or service is vital to keep your site appearing at the forefront of all prospective customer searches.
  • Integrate online analytics with telephone tracking
    Depending on your market, many customers will come to your website to view your offering and then pick up the phone. With website call tracking you have the ability to dynamically change the telephone number on your web site depending on the keyword or referring URL. Thus, you can link actual telephone response to keywords allowing you to focus your budget more effectively. Measuring the telephone enquiries made through your website is one thing, but finding out what keyword was used to find it will benefit your online marketing planning enormously.
  • Robust capturing of marketing data
    Whenever we run a response audit, we never cease to be amazed at how poor companies are in capturing their enquiry data. If someone contacts your business how are their details captured and what procedure is in place to follow them up? Is the process robust and carefully monitored? If not, what do you need to do to ensure that a suitable process had been put in place to make it happen?

Set targets to measure success
Once you have decided the tools needed to measure success, you need to set targets to see whether the campaign has worked. Each company will have slightly different interpretations of success, but the key is having targets that are easy to understand and are related to your business. It must be easy to get the response data quickly so that you can make tactical changes to a campaign quickly and effectively. There is no point reviewing the success of a campaign one month after it has finished, you need to monitor the results on an ongoing basis and respond to the results tactically. Typical measurements for the success of a campaign include:-

  • Unique telephone response by media and channel
  • Missed and answered calls
  • Website visitors (unique users, pages visited, time on site, bounce rate)
  • Email enquiries
  • New leads added to the customer database
  • Sales to new and existing customers

Decide what measurements best suit your needs and then constantly review them against set targets. Measure your results in real-time where possible to ensure you are able to make the necessary tactical changes to your collateral.

Improving marketing collateral
a)  Test creative and keywords 
One of the first rules of marketing is to run split tests to see what collateral brings the greatest response. Web analytics packages can be used to review traffic increases and conversions from online activity. Traditional direct response marketing can be monitored using call tracking; (the method of using an 08 telephone number that tracks all calls made to it providing the data via online reporting). A whole campaign can be tracked and viewed using Google Analytics™ (integrated with call tracking), so why not run a test prior to your next campaign to get an idea of how well it will be received? Send out two emails, each with a different subject line and monitor the difference in response rates.

b) Keep sales messages simple
In these tough times, companies are looking to increase sales but have less money to spend on branding. Our experience shows that customers are now so overwhelmed with advertising messages that it is becoming increasingly difficult ensure visibility. If you try to be too clever in an advert it will go over a consumers head and not generate response. If you are trying to generate response, keep the message obvious. It is better to generate more sales through simple to understand messages than win awards with great creative that only the advertising world understands.

c) Be prepared to make tactical changes quickly
When a marketing plan is put in place, much effort is devoted to ensuring the creative is right but there is little attention paid to response monitoring and handling. However, owing to the fickle and fast moving nature of customer response, if a campaign is being properly monitored then feedback on the campaign’s success should be almost instantaneous. If a campaign is not working, plans should be in place to be able to change the message to ensure it generates the response required.

Fig.2:  An example of how Mediahawk call tracking displays the source of each call according to the location of the caller.
d) Keep a little budget to trial new ideas
One of the great challenges of the current marketing environment is the fracturing of channels and mediums available to spend marketing budget. Where possible, every budget should have a contingency fund to trial new ideas or channels. As companies struggle to gain visibility, they also find that the places open to them to advertise are the same as their competition. On the basis that fortune favours the brave, it is worth stretching your marketing reach into previously untapped areas. This will freshen things up and also keep your competition on their toes.
Improving your customer handling processes.

a) Follow the customer journey
As part of a response audit, we get our companies to behave as a customer to their business and try to purchase product from them – there is nothing better than getting your managing directors to mystery shop their business! In most cases the results will shock the company because they find the processes that were previously well considered, do not actually work. Problems can include some of the following:-

  • Telephone numbers reaching the wrong destination
  • Inability to answer telephone calls due to insufficient resources
  • Telephone calls going straight to voicemail
  • No response / slow response to email enquiries
  • Sales teams who do not want to sell
  • Sales teams who have not been briefed about the campaign
  • Inability to capture enquiry data (name, telephone number, company name)

b)  Identify and remove telephone squeeze points
Just because you can make the telephone ring, does not automatically mean that the call will lead to a sale. We find that up to 50% of calls do not even get to a salesman owing to internal problems with how the calls are being transferred. Before you start a campaign, make sure you test all the different response mechanisms to ensure they are working and your team is briefed on how they should take customer enquiries.  If you use call tracking to monitor sales calls, you can keep a close eye on the campaign to ensure that all the calls are being directed to the right place.
The incoming calls can be viewed through online reporting that will enable you to monitor your campaigns on an almost real-time basis.

c) Ensure customers can interact via multiple channels
There have been two dramatic revolutions within customer interaction in the last 10 years and these have been the fracturing of channels marketers can use combined with the increase in response mechanisms. We are getting closer to creating one-to-one marketing which throws up significant challenges. In order to improve response, it is important to provide customers with response mechanisms regardless of the extra perceived cost of providing them. For instance, many web-based companies do not like to provide a telephone number on their web site because they do not want to be inundated with telephone calls. However, unless the company is a trusted brand, if a customer cannot find a telephone number this will often dissuade them from interacting with the company and therefore the sales volumes reduce. We have found that the simple act of putting a telephone number more prominently on a website can double sales volumes.

d) Listen to telephone enquiries 
Although companies are trying to drive more and more response online, in many industries, the telephone remains the key method of communication. You can spend lots of time driving people to websites, but consumers want reassurance and want to pick up the phone. If you are using call tracking numbers you will be able to monitor the number of leads you are receiving. If these call tracking numbers have call recording attached to them, then you can listen to the quality of the leads and understand what is motivating a customer to use the telephone to enquire. If the calls are not sales calls then maybe you need to change the offering and advertising message.
e) Monitor the sales teams’ conversion rates
Using call tracking numbers and listening to the calls will allow you to understand the conversion rates from the calls. Just as you can follow online advertising through to an online sale, you can link telephone response from adverts through to a sale. This can be done either by listening to calls and seeing the customer journey, or by washing CRM data against the callers’ telephone numbers and linking these to sales. By linking actual sales to the marketing that generated the calls, you can refine your marketing spend – especially keyword advertising – to be more targeted and create a better return.

Mediahawk is a market leading telephone tracking business and to help you understand how your marketing is generating telephone response we are offering all readers a free trial of 2 call recorded tracking numbers. These tracking numbers will allow you to understand:-

  • How many calls you have generated
  • How many calls you have missed
  • When the calls were made
  • Where the calls came from

Furthermore, by using the call recording facility you will understand how your sales team is performing and whether you have any squeeze points in your call handling process.

So, to claim your free numbers or if you want help on conducting a response audit, call 0844 245 1320. Contact us through the website.

Print out and keep checklist

Checklist for improving your response rates

a) Conduct a response audit. Use the following tools to monitor success:-

  • a) Telephone tracking
  • b) Online analytics
  • c) Website call tracking
  • d) Customer data capture
  • e) Set targets that can be monitored using tools above

b) Improving marketing response

  • a) Test creative and keywords
  • b) Keep the sales message simple
  • c) Be prepared to make tactical changes
  • d) Keep a little budget to trail new online ideas

c) Improving your customer handling processes

  • a) Follow the customer journey
  • b) Identify and remove telephone squeeze points
  • c) Ensure customers can interact via multiple channels
  • d) Listen to phone enquiries
  • e) Monitor the sales team’s conversion rates

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