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3 Call Tracking Tips We Can Learn from Direct Marketing Agencies

3 min readJune 3, 2013

Are you able to connect all of your direct marketing efforts to revenue that’s closed over the phone? Brands spend millions of dollars each year on direct marketing efforts, yet they often lack the insight to qualify which direct engagements really drive ROI.

call trackingIf your business is struggling to quantify the returns on your direct marketing efforts, it can be helpful to examine some of the tactics used by direct marketing agencies. While many in the marketing community see direct marketing as an antiquated form of engagement that is being replaced by social, the top 10 direct marketing agencies bring in yearly revenues that exceed the $5.5 billion mark, according to a 2012 Direct Marketing News Agency Business Report.

Historically, direct marketing agencies have set the curve when it comes to marketing tech, helping to pioneer the use of call tracking solutions. In fact, Lester Wunderman, considered the father of modern direct marketing, is responsible for such  innovations as the toll-free 800 phone number and loyalty rewards programs.

Here are three ways that any business can use call tracking to acquire visibility that rivals the best direct marketing agencies.

Direct Marketing Emails

Direct marketing agencies often handle email blasts for their clients. A common call-to-action in any direct email campaign is some variation of “give us a call” followed by a phone number. The problem is that, unlike when a prospect fills out a web form, there is often no way to attribute a call to the email campaign  (and no, asking, “So how did you find us?” doesn’t count).

However, many direct marketing agencies have found that a phone call tracking system makes it easy to provision a unique local or toll-free telephone number for each email campaign. The result is that direct marketing agencies not only gain credit for every sale that from that email campaign, but they can also get real-time insight into which messages are resonating with customers.

Direct Mailing Campaigns

While advertising has been moving steadily toward digital (and even many of the top direct marketing agencies are diversifying into digital marketing channels), direct marketing agencies still handle lots of mailing campaigns to terrestrial mailboxes. For example, I play guitar and receive musical instrument catalogs all the time. These catalogs often feature phone numbers that can be used to purchase goods. In fact, for many of the high-ticket guitars, the price isn’t even listed in the catalog. Instead there are the instructions, “Call for price.” Some of those catalogs that I receive are weighty and must cost several dollars to make. Without call tracking, it would be impossible for these businesses to truly measure the ROI of their mailing efforts. But with a phone call tracking system, those businesses could provision a unique number for each catalog and gain visibility into how their catalogs were performing in comparison to other direct marketing and other advertising efforts. If the catalogs aren’t offering good returns, then the businesses can dial down their catalog investment and spend more on display ads, email blasts and other channels that are paying the bills.

CRM Integration

In my experience working on the agency side of marketing, I have found that it is extremely effective to manage clients in a customer relationship management (CRM) system.  If my clients are in Salesforce.com, I can see, in real time, which marketing efforts are driving leads, opportunities and revenue. Many direct marketing agencies manage clients in CRMs like Salesforce.com. But the real magic comes when CRM solutions are combined with call tracking systems.

While many such solutions can enable marketers to see metrics such as call volume and hold time, CRM-based tracking numbers enable businesses to quantify the impact of direct marketing campaigns on phone ROI.

To find out more about call tracking, check out Call Tracking: The Definitive Guide