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Phone Call Renaissance: Why Advertisers Want Calls

Consumer Placing Phone CallSome people think we are entering a post-telephone world. While there may be a lot of activity online, the phone call still reigns supreme for many marketers. Why do advertisers want phone calls? Phone calls are leads that deliver the highest conversion rates. It’s simple math. As Marchex put it recently, Research by Nielsen in 2013 showed that, “40% of auto insurance policy conversions occur over the phone, with many more initiated over the phone and closed in person.”

Last week, we talked about how advertisers want engagement with consumers. The highest order of engagement is a phone call. It is personal and by definition, is customized to the individual calling. It also is an indicator of high buyer intent. While someone early in the buying cycle may conduct research on your website and request information, data shows consumers willing to be connected by phone are typically near a purchase decision.

What is Driving the Phone Call Renaissance?

All of the attention on digital channels has overshadowed the value of the seemingly old-fashioned phone call. However, there are three drivers of what we call the phone call renaissance:

  1. High conversion rates from phone calls
  2. Proliferation of smartphones
  3. Strong interest supported by ad dollars from local/national advertisers

Phone Calls Equal Conversions

Old-fashioned phone call
Research by Marchex coupled with data from Google sheds light on the data backing up the renewed interest in phone calls:

  • 20-30% of phone calls to rental car companies result in a booking
  • 30-35% of home service calls result in an appointment
  • 18-25% of calls for Cable service result in an installation
  • 15-22% of calls to Hotels result in a reservation

There are other methods to convert customers, but they cannot match phone calls. Research by Google and Ipsos showed that 48% of people find it important to be able to call the business when ready to make a purchase. The research further concludes that talking to a person to get answers quickly are key motivators behind phone calls with 46% indicating they needed more information than a website can answer.

These are fundamental reasons why one of the first XAPP Ad actions was to enable the instant voice conversion to an automatic phone call through audio ads [example here].

Smartphones Make Calls Convenient, Spontaneous

The proliferation of smartphones is the second key driver of the phone call renaissance. In February, comScore reported that 65.2% of people in the United States owned smartphones. This is particularly relevant to the Internet radio industry as confirmed by another recent comScore report that concluded smartphones account for 79% of music streaming. Smartphones integrate the digital experience with the phone experience – making a connection by phone that much easier.

Consumers are accessing content, conducting research and receiving advertised offers on their smartphones throughout the day. It is often easier to conclude the process with a quick call than by filling out a form or plowing through more pages of information. Beyond the convenience aspect, the instant call from the smartphone also enables spontaneous consumer responses to quickly execute a transaction.

Look no further than Google’s click-to-call analysis if you have doubts about the importance of convenience and spontaneity. It’s research shows that 36% of consumers will research other brands if a click to call capability is not readily available while another 32% expressed frustration at the lack of a phone option. The bottom line is that having a click-to-call option available has shown to increase phone calls by 6-12%. Convenience matters.

Local Advertisers Demand Phone Calls

The third driver of the phone call renaissance is how highly local advertisers prioritize calls. BIA/Kelsey’s research indicates that 61.3% of local advertisers consider a phone call the top lead source. It is not surprising that they also found that $68.4 billion out of the $132.5 billion U.S. local advertising market is dedicated to driving phone calls.

Phone Calls Priority for Local Advertisers

Local Ad Spend on Calls

This isn’t just the domain of local businesses either. BIA/Kelsey has further determined that nearly $50 billion in national advertiser budgets are dedicated to local ad purchases. From insurance to retail, these national businesses also benefit significantly from phone calls driven through local advertising.

Thank You for Calling, How May I Help You?

The phone call brings consumers in touch with the humans that represent advertisers. Those humans can customize the consumer experience and go off-script when helpful to create meaningful interactions that are more likely to conclude with orders.

Some people think of a phone connection is inefficient in our digital age, but I challenge you to fill out an order form on your mobile phone. This is hard when you are standing still and not possible while ultramobile and walking or driving down the street. The mobility and versatility enabled by smartphones also come with constraints that a human voice easily overcomes. Phone calls align well with the user experience on mobile.

Bringing Phone Calls to Audio Advertising

CallNowXAPPmedia saw each of these trends relating to conversion, smartphone growth and local advertising spend and combined it with analysis of user listening experiences on smartphones. Advertisers still want calls, but it has been hard to engage listeners with visual click-to-call when the smartphone was out-of-sight and tucked away in a pocket, purse or the car’s cup holder. The click-to-call capability delivering so much conversion on mobile for visual advertisers was simply ineffective for audio.

At XAPP, we recognized the easiest way for a consumer to interact with an audio ad was by voice. If a consumer could simply say, “Call Now,” in response to an ad, we could make the phone auto-dial the advertiser’s number. There were several technical hurdles to overcome, but the capability now delivers voice-click-to-call conversion opportunities for audio advertisers.

Want to learn more? Feel free to send an email to or give us a call anytime at 855-XAPP-ADS. We value phone calls as much as you do.