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Marketer's Guide to Call Attribution

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The current on-trend topic is marketing attribution. The holy grail of direct response is linking marketing activity directly to sales activity.

Using cookies and integrating user data into tools such as Google Analytics, attribution is easy for digital response, such as web forms or online purchases.

However, linking phone call activity to sales is significantly more complex because phone calls are not directly associated with user activity. Here we look at the different ways to allocate calls to create meaningful call attribution.

What is call attribution?

Call attribution is the ability to link the outcome of a telephone call directly to marketing activity.

The current methods of call attribution are:

  • Pre-call attribution
  • Post-call attribution
  • Track sales
  • Call listening
  • In-call attribution

Pre-call attribution

To create pre-call attribution, an automated prompt is required at the beginning of the call directing them to different areas of a business by pressing the appropriate keys on the telephone pad, i.e.: "thank you for calling Mediahawk. Please press 1 for Sales, 2 for Customer Service."

Pre-call attribution is probably the simplest form of attribution. It reports on the keystrokes that customers use to get to the department they want and this information is then linked to the marketing source of the call. This creates the ability to drill down into the different marketing sources that generate calls to the different company departments. This makes it easy to see, for example, which sources are driving the most calls into the sales department.

The advantage of using this is that the caller is doing the attribution work through their keystrokes. All the data is logged on Mediahawk and can be reported using secondary dimensions.

Post-call attribution

Post-call attribution involves a voice prompt that call handlers hear at the end of a call. The agents are prompted to press keys on their telephone keypad to summarise the outcome of the call after the caller has hung up - i.e.: 1 for a sale, 2 for complaint, 3 for a general enquiry, etc.

Further numerical information, such as the value of a sale, can also be added to the call. All the information is automatically logged in Mediahawk, and, as the data builds, it provides insight into what advertising is generating sales and also the value of any calls. 

Post-call attribution is easy to set up and implement but there is a reliance on your call handlers to record the appropriate outcomes of each call.

Track sales

A key aspect of call attribution is linking sales to marketing sources, allowing marketing activity to be refined. One way of creating this link is by matching a customer's phone number from your CRM system with the same number from an inbound call captured in Mediahawk. Assuming there is a match, this will then show the source of the call and the outcome from the CRM system. If a customer calls from multiple marketing sources then these will show up on the reporting as well.

Track sales is easy to manage by simply uploading a .csv file of sales data into Mediahawk and the appropriate matches will be provided by Mediahawk. Track sales relies on being able to match a telephone number within your CRM system with the caller ID from the inbound call. If there is no match then it is not possible to link to marketing source with the outcome.

Track sales provides a simple entry to attribution with no additional work.

Call listening

Call listening involves someone listening to each call after the event and capturing information about the quality and outcome of the call. Listening to calls provides 100% marketing attribution as well as providing additional qualitative and quantitative data if this is specified.

Call listening is extremely powerful, however can be expensive to implement due to the cost of employing people to listen to calls. However, due to the higher cost, listening is often used on sample basis – i.e. not every call is listened to, but a selection are closely analysed to give an idea of trends and issues to address.

Call listening can also be added to other attribution methods so that only calls from a certain source or campaign are listened to in order to help understand the effectiveness of that channel or activity. For instance, using pre-call attribution, only the calls where the caller pressed the sales number need to be listened to.

In-call attribution

In-call attribution makes use of the fact that telephone lines can pass low frequency noises down the line to the switch at the other end. Whilst we can't hear these tones, they are recognised as data, captured and automatically transferred during a telephone call.

As a result of passing this data, it can be put straight into a CRM system creating 100% accurate attribution. Furthermore, a caller's information can be 'screen popped' in a dialogue window directly in the user interface of the CRM system. Full Mediahawk data can be included in the caller's record, and withheld numbers don't pose a problem.

In-call attribution is the future of call attribution because it automates the other solutions and minimises human intervention. In-call attribution is achievable at an enterprise level as it requires programmers who can create the link between the calls and the telephone switch equipment and this obviously comes at a cost.

Selecting the right attribution model for your business

Call attribution comes in a number of guises, and each method provides the reporting in alternative ways. Every company will use a different method or a combination of attribution forms that is appropriate to them within their available budgets and resources.

Whilst it is still not currently straight forward to have 100% call attribution, achieving this Holy Grail is becoming much easier to achieve. In 10 years' time, people will start to wonder how we ever managed without full attribution of phone calls.

For advice on implementing the best attribution method for your business, get in touch and we'll be happy to walk through in more depth.

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