Why Phone Calls are the New Click

Surge in Mobile Search Fuels More Customer Calls

Pop quiz:  What’s better for your bottom line, online clicks or a phone that rings? For most small business owners, a ringing phone trumps digital clicks or the far more amorphous measure of online “impressions” from, say, a website banner ad. 

In fact, according to small business research firm BIA Kelsey, 66 percent of business owners consider phone calls the most valuable type of incoming leads. Clicks and impressions might seem sexier, but calls are more reliable for generating actual sales and bigger profits.

Mobile SearchIn fact, BIA Kelsey’s research shows a shift toward more tangible forms of leads such as phone calls and actual foot traffic. That’s especially pronounced for businesses such as professional services, home services and any other endeavor that typically closes sales over the phone.

So if you buy the notion that “calls are currency” you should definitely be tuned into another trend: Mobile. The still-expanding smartphone era has fused online search with a phone. The result has been a revival of ringing phones for many businesses, sparked by consumers who are pre-disposed to make the call if they find you via a search on their phone. It makes perfect sense.

In fact, says BIA Kelsey, mobile search alone will drive 73 billion calls per year by 2018 – up from “just” 30 billion in 2013. Smartphone penetration in the U.S. has already skyrocketed to some 72 percent and is expected to pass 90 percent by 2017.

Mobile Users are Ready to Buy

The best part is this: Mobile users are often more ready to make a purchase than someone sitting in their home or office looking at their desktop computer.  Some 25 percent of all searches are now done on a mobile device, and half of those mobile searches have what the industry calls “local intent.”  In other words, they’re looking for something nearby to do or buy.

If you’re looking for a killer source of leads, the bottom line is this: Small businesses that put themselves in front of consumers via mobile with the right messages and calls to action (such as mobile click-to-call) can drive high quality leads and ROI on ad spending.

Google research shows that three out of every four mobile searches result in additional action – calling a business, visiting a store or making a purchase. And the payoff is often quick. Over half of these “conversions” happen within an hour of the initial search, says BIA Kelsey. What’s more, mobile influences consumers in other ways to connect with your business “offline.” A large and growing portion of offline purchases is influenced by online and mobile activity.

6 Tips for Mobile Marketing

  1. Make a mobile plan:  What do you want to accomplish with mobile? Attract customers? Generate calls? Build your brand?  Promote special offers?
  2. Massage your message: What works with email – colorful HTML designs for example – won’t necessarily work with mobile. Make your message concise and uncluttered.
  3. Make your website mobile friendly: Visit your own site on a mobile device. If it doesn’t look good and isn’t mobile user friendly, it’s probably not optimized for mobile. There are many affordable tools and services that can help. See the resources section below for some suggestions.
  4. See the bigger picture:  Think about what your customers want in relation to your other marketing efforts as well, and not just mobile. In other words, put mobile in perspective as part of your bigger plan. Email and mobile, for example, can work together.
  5. Test and learn: Don’t assume your first stab at mobile marketing will be a success. Constantly test new ideas, messages and offers to see what works best in mobile.
  6. Prepare to deliver: Remember that generating more inbound calls also means you need to manage them. If you drop the ball on your end, all of the effort will go for naught.

Mobile Resources

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Additional Resources


5 Reasons Your Website Needs to be Mobile Friendly
Mobile and Website Conversion: Building Your Business for Clients on the Go

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About the Author

Daniel Kehrer, headshotDaniel Kehrer, Founder & Managing Director of BizBest Media Corp., is a nationally-known, award-winning expert on small and local business, start-ups, content marketing, entrepreneurship and social media, with an MBA from UCLA/Anderson. Read more of Daniel's tips at www.BizBest.com, follow him at www.twitter.com/140Main and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/danielkehrer.
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