New research: 60% of people prefer to call you before buying

60% of people said they prefer to call someone to get information about buying a product or service when it gets complicated*. So if your marketing strategy is only fixed on getting clicks and form fills, then you may want to review your approach.

If you think about your own buying behaviour – this makes perfect sense. There are just some things in life that are easier and quicker to find out in a conversation with a human being. But what does this mean for marketers? Well, it’s simple really – if you’re not including inbound calls in your results and reporting, you’re doing yourself and your department an injustice. For instance, if 50% of your business is based on people phoning to make a purchase, if you aren’t tracking this like your online clicks, then you’re missing out on some incredibly valuable data.

Why is the phone channel so important for marketing?

If you encourage prospects to communicate and do business with you online, this may help you streamline resources and reduce overheads… But what about the human element? One of our key findings was that 6 in 10 respondents prefer having the option to call and speak to someone if they need to discuss something complex, personal or expensive. This suggests that we still prefer talking to people to help us get the information we need to make those important purchase decisions. And as marketers, if you aren’t tracking these phone calls in the detail you’re tracking your online interactions, then you’re only getting part of the picture, which will hinder your plans and strategy.

Reflecting a shift in attitude

16-24 year olds have grown up with tech at their fingertips 24/7. It’s well known that this age group are digital natives, but we’re seeing a shift from digital to verbal communication.
Our survey revealed that the top 3 industries that Gen Z would be most likely to call before making a purchase are:

  • For a mortgage enquiry
  • Healthcare providers (including dentists, physio, etc)
  • Booking holiday accommodation

So why is this? Maybe it is too long winded to bounce emails back and forth to resolve queries before purchasing, when a simple 10 minute conversation will do. Email and text fatigue is a known phenomena – especially with millennials and Gen Z. They get so annoyed with the natural delay in typing a message, that they end up phoning instead.

What motivates someone to phone rather than contact us online?

Good question. It really depends on how complex, expensive or personal your product or service is. The higher up the scale it is, the more likely we want to talk details before we part with our money.

If you run a business in healthcare, legal or financial services, or you’re a restaurant or holiday package provider; you are more likely to get clarifying questions before a purchase/booking is made. This is because everyone has specific needs and wants, and they like to be accommodated. The more variations you offer, the more questions you are going to raise, and your website FAQs aren’t going to answer everything. In this world of on demand information, people are less patient and are not prepared to wait a day for an email to be replied to. So they will call you for immediate response.

And interestingly, when we start looking at preferences by gender, our data revealed that women are more likely than men to make phone calls for social purchases, and men tend to make calls when it involves finances:

  • Women are more likely to use the phone to book a table or order a takeaway (26% vs 19% of men)
  • 32% of men prefer to discuss financial services products over the phone, compared to 25% of women
  • The roles are reversed when it comes to travel and holidays though – 34% of women pick up the phone to book flights and accommodation, versus 27% of men.


So don’t resign your analysis to guesswork!

Call tracking technology is just as important to your business as web analytics if not more! You can analyse your calls in as much detail as your website analytics. It shows you the advertising source they found you with as well as how they converted.  With a greater understanding of buying behaviour, you can fine tune your strategy, plans, campaigns and marketing activities, and understand just how much marketing contributed to sales online and on the phone.

*Research was carried out by Censuswide in July 2019. A nationally representative sample of 2,016 16+ year old adults across the UK were interviewed

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About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics and content management.