At Dreamforce we talked with Paul Rudwall, Director of Product Marketing at Invoca, about marketers’ blind spot in the customer journey. According to Rudwall, the rise of mobile has created a surge in phone calls, which are not properly linked to the mobile internet research preceding the calls. Tracking this journey is crucial, if marketers want to understand which touch points are driving conversion. Rudwall describes how customers are using Invoca to tie online activity to phone calls—intelligence they use to drive high-converting leads for sales.
Give us a little introduction—who are you as a company, and how did you personally come to work with Invoca?
Before Invoca, I worked with Responsys, so digital marketing is my forte. But finding Invoca was a light bulb moment. At Responsys, I had worked with huge companies who invest millions of dollars every day to drive demand for their product, and you might be surprised by how many conversions still happens over the phone. Before buyers make a big purchase of a complex product, like a cable or satellite subscription, life insurance or software, they want to talk to a real person.
Tools like Responsys, ExactTarget, Kenshoo, and Marin are not focused on how phone calls fit into the customer journey, so they start to lose visibility. Rather than seeing an effective marketing campaign, marketers see a false negative. When someone picks up the phone to call, they are 10-15x more likely to purchase. But those systems see only the abandoned carts, or the people who got to the page and didn’t buy online. Marketers are more likely to disinvest in campaigns—even if, behind the scenes, they successfully drove the phone calls that led to conversion.
That’s Invoca’s focus. We work with companies like Allstate Insurance, AOL, Empire Today, SunTrust, and OpenTable, who are deeply invested in understanding their customers and how to communicate to them, how to effectively manage the customer journey. We help those clients bridge the gap. They need to understand what happens when someone jumps offline (which they do more and more frequently, as a result of the rise of mobile) or ends a call.
How does the technology itself work?
We have a patented technology called the RingPool. This is the primary way most of our customers use Invoca. It’s a piece of code that sits on your website and dynamically generates a different phone number for every person that visits the website. If every single person on this showroom floor all went to one of our cable clients’ websites right now, we would each get a different phone number. That number tells our clients exactly who’s calling and which marketing campaign they came from. Our code can also pull in other parameters or cookies depending on the use case. For example, if the company has an Adobe cookie or a Marketo cookie or a Responsys cookie, we can pull that in so that sales and marketing can see farther back in the customer journey. This caller might have searched for “HBO Cable Deals”, looked at five pages before calling, and opened several emails from us previously. Basically, the number generated by our piece of code also pulls in marketing info.
After the call has taken place, we have a product called Signal that listens for keywords and phrases to help sales reps understand what happened on the call. B2B organizations are typically pretty good at figuring out why they’re closing deals, because customers are happy to volunteer that information. However, when they ask why things aren’t closing, most of the time people just say “price” or “value,” and that’s a cop-out. It’s difficult to get useful information, but that reasoning is really valuable for a marketer or a salesperson to understand.
So the Signal technology allows users to see that they’re winning deals 80% of the time a competitor is mentioned. But it also allows users to listen for different decision-making criteria. For example, maybe the company loses the opportunity 65% of the time callers mention a “quick decision.” If the company can see that, they can train their reps better on how to respond.
Our data also ties back into other marketing systems. So if a company uses Marketo, and a caller mentions a specific product line, marketers can enter that caller into a product-specific nurture track based on the content of the call. If Invoca is integrated to Marketo, the company can use our data to automatically kick off an email.
Does the data integration happen in real time?
Absolutely. We have the ability to populate information in front of the salesperson about what drove the call, as it happens. Clients like AOL take our information and do a screen pop in front of the agent that says: “This person came from this campaign and these are the products that we recommend you offer up to them.” It’s definitely something our clients are using.
Our Salesforce integration also has the ability to populate information natively. While the salesperson is on the phone, they can go directly to the lead (without having to create one) and enter their notes.
Can Invoca identify print and radio?
Absolutely. We track online and offline channels. For print and radio, we don’t have the ability to dynamically change the numbers with code, so those are static numbers. But marketers will be able to see which channels led the caller to them and analyze what happened on the call. And, many clients who use us offline use us online as well. For example, we have clients like Empire Today who have famous vanity phone numbers but also use our dynamic numbers for digital. They rely on us to keep all of those channels, online and offline, organized.
Which companies need Invoca? Who are your target customers?
Any company where calls matter. That spans a wide range of companies, including B2C companies like finance, travel, insurance, and Telco, as well as B2B companies. In B2B customer cycles, there are fewer calls, but calls are incredibly valuable.
There is a third group of companies that work with us in the performance and affiliates space. For example, some insurance businesses want to have affiliates drive calls, because they know that calls convert at a high rate. Those companies use Invoca to figure out which of the affiliates are driving calls.
In general, any company selling products for a couple hundred dollars and up tends to be a good fit.
What kind of parameters do you use to identify who would be a good fit for Invoca, particularly among those attending Dreamforce?
That’s a good question. At this show specifically, companies tend to be in B2B sales which is one use case and is probably 50% overlap. If we were at the Salesforce Connections conference (with more B2C companies) it would be another use case, and we would predict an 80% fit.
The companies here that make a good fit fall into one of two groups. They are either large B2B companies that drive a lot of calls and get a lot of sales, or they are more transactional. Brady Corporation is a great example; they sell items like exit signs and floor polishers, which are required for the physical side of business. Brady implemented Invoca alongside Salesforce and ExactTarget. They used us to discover that their paid search was actually driving 3x the amount of revenue they had thought before they were able to track calls.
Is Invoca ever used beyond the sales case, for example for tech support or customer service?
In the future, it’s something I could see us moving into. But for now, we’re mostly marketing.
A few support people do use Invoca, but we’re really built to help companies understand how to drive more valuable calls and more call volume. Support call centers are looking for a tool to help them manage what support agents are saying on the phone and how long they’re on the phone. That’s a different market, because today most support teams are looking for quick resolution—they want to get callers off the phone and save money, as opposed to driving more good calls that make money.
Actually, the biggest overlap we have with support is a special use case. Some companies are trying to figure out which of their marketing campaigns are driving support calls. They don’t want to be paying for campaigns that are driving a lot of people to call a cost center; they want fund campaigns that drive callers to a revenue center.
So are you a marketing technology or a sales technology?
We’re a marketing technology to help salespeople. We’re focused on helping the marketer drive more high-converting leads, which benefits sales greatly. Because we have so much data, we put companies in a position to better run the sales team. Sales is certainly a beneficiary, but the VP of Sales is not our buyer.
Is there any particular key area of growth for Invoca?
Enterprise brands are our big growth focus. It’s related to the enterprise investment in marketing analytics technology. There’s been a lot of focus on mobile in the enterprise segment, but mobile form conversion is much lower than online. Customers want that human connection; they’re actually picking up their (mobile) phones to call. Enterprise companies that invest millions of dollars a day tracking paid search, display, and email campaigns are waking up to the fact that phone calls are where 20 or 30 or 80% of their conversion is taking place. If they can’t figure out what’s driving the good calls and what’s driving the bad calls, that’s having a multi-million dollar impact on their business. They are realizing that there’s a big hole in marketing analytics. They spend a lot of money on marketing and analytics, and all of those tools share the same blind spot. Those enterprises tend to be the ones to really get our value proposition. So that’s probably the biggest area of focus today.
What trends in the space are influencing your business?
Mobile is the big one. For a long time, people talked about mobile like it was a channel. Mobile is not a channel—every channel is mobile. Half of email is opened on mobile, and half of Facebook’s users only access Facebook from their mobile device. More searches are run on mobile than on desktops. Phones are great for doing research and engaging on the go. It’s not just B2C. The number of buyers researching B2B products on mobile has tripled in the last 3 years. But it’s much more difficult to get the information you want on the small screen, so customers are calling.
This year there are forecast to be over 90 billion calls to businesses from mobile phones. Over the next four years that will increase to over 160 billion. If you overlay the growth in additional marketing spend and mobile spend, you can see that mobile spend is growing faster than the rest of digital marketing. Still, the growth in the number of phone calls to businesses is growing much faster than either.
The other trend is the move towards creating a more connected experience for customers, a cohesive journey. It’s becoming an expectation. Customers are frustrated when their banks don’t know who they are when they call, and they’re frustrated when companies show them an advertisement for a product they just bought yesterday. For example, if I just bought a cable package, why would you retarget me the next day with an offer for 10% off? That’s a terrible experience, and it’s a waste of money for marketers. So the other big trend is the need to understand how customers are interacting at every single step of the customer journey. If intel on a really important conversion point is missing, the whole system breaks down. To get clarity around these different touch points, companies need technologies that will seamlessly talk to each other.
The old campaign mindset—targeting a huge group of people and settling for a really low conversion rate because it will still make money—is alienating customers. We fit into the rise of engagement and analytics technologies to better understand and personalize the customer experience.
Can you share some themes for product development going forward?
There are a few areas for development. One area is expanding on the analytics we have today. Most companies that come to us, even the biggest brands in the world, didn’t realize it was possible to bridge the online/offline gap until we started working with them. But that shock factor fades pretty quickly, and our customers are having new ideas all the time—what if we could see this? We want to expand the data we give about calls with deeper insights.
The second area is making insights more actionable because most of our users haven’t worked with this type of data before. We are working on how to present the data in a way that can help them understand it and use it to make decisions.
Third, is integrating more deeply with the marketing stack. We will build deeper and better integrations with marketing execution technologies for email, display, and social—campaigns that drive people to call. For example, we have customers who feed that data back into their ad systems, so users have call data available in technologies like Google AdWords.
What are some of the most commonly used integrations that you offer today?
Definitely our integrations with Google AdWords, DoubleClick, and Google Analytics. We also have a lot of clients who use our Adobe integration. Web Analytics is a big one.
Many customers are also using us within Salesforce to close the loop and track how much revenue these calls are driving. We also have some integrations with Marin and Kenshoo, and all the search providers. CRM and display are big ones today. Moving forward, I think other executional technologies around email, around mobile are going to be really big.
Retargeting (or rather, knowing when not to retarget) is another use case. As I mentioned earlier, Invoca can help companies see where someone who abandoned their online cart picked up the phone and got service that way. Those customers don’t want to get retargeting ads; instead, they should receive material on premium offerings, insurance, or a better data plan. Companies should be specific about retargeting—maybe on that call, the customer said data was really important to them.
Do you see predictive analytics as eventually playing a role in Invoca?
I don’t think that we’re going to become a predictive analytics tool. We’re focused on answering questions about who called, arming your team to convert more, and connecting through different technologies. But, I do see us integrating with predictive tools. I can absolutely see Invoca capturing data about a customer as they call in, in real time, and pinging a third-party technology. We can do this today, and we’re building out more capabilities in the future. Potentially, we’ll tap into another predictive technology in the future. For example, when the customer calls in, we will send data to Lattice Engines or InsideSales’ new predictive engine. Our system will ask, “Who should we pass this call to?” Or, “What’s the right product to pitch?” Then we’ll pass that information on to the sales rep accordingly. For us, the opportunity will be harnessing the predictive power that they’ve already built out, in real time. Realistically, our clients will have already invested in that kind of technology.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Mobile has made calls more important than ever. A few years ago, calls were something that people thought were going away. Quite the contrary, calls have come back with a vengeance. That’s great for businesses, because a good call is a great customer experience; it provides that human-to-human interaction that everyone’s talking about at Salesforce. But right now calls are a big blind spot. Fortunately, we’re focusing on it, with marketing attribution, analytics around any campaign on any channel, caller ID, and tracking the content and success of the call—did it convert, and at how much? Our customers use that information to drive a better experience on the call, and ultimately tie into marketing technology for every touch point on the journey. We allow them to build a better relationship with their customers.