Next time you’re pitched on a campaign that promises to keep your phone ringing off the hook, take the time to ask some tough questions about the quality of the leads you can expect. Caveat emptor.
I attended the Borrell local online advertising conference in New York City this week. While there, I heard various speakers from “old media” firms like YellowPages and Yellowbook. It’s no surprise that they were hard at work selling their new media solutions.
In their sessions, many referenced “call volume” and “call length” as measures of their clients’ success with lead generation programs. Here’s the sort of thing I heard:
“If a call lasts more than ten seconds, then it’s a lead!”
“If a call runs more than a minute, it has to be a lead…”
“We use 45 seconds as our measure…”
It sounded like everybody is trying to figure out how long a phone call must be if it’s to be considered a real lead.
While this was going on, I sat back and chuckled. That’s because, for the home improvement industry (as well as most other industries), call length is the least useful metric.
What does matter is the number of qualified calls. That seems obvious, of course, but to many, the distinction is lost.
Shortly after we launched Keyword Connects, we were engaged by a successful Gutter Helmet dealer. As a result of our online campaign, we observed from our tracking an enormous number of in-bound phone calls. We naturally assumed we were generating hundreds of great leads each month for this dealer.
Many of the calls were indeed legitimate prospects. But we took the time to listen to many of the other calls. And what we found surprised us.
65-70% of the phone calls we generated were not opportunity to sell new product. They were:
- customer service calls
- appointment change calls
- job seekers
- media sales people
- friends and relatives of employees
- suppliers looking to reach decision makers
- telemarketers and autodialers
- strange phone calls that defy classification
So while we generated lots of calls, we quickly learned that any marketing campaign generates an enormous number of “junk” calls. We also found that many of these calls required significant time on the phone to resolve. For instance, a good customer service call might take several minutes. An autodialer that goes into a voicemail system may run more than a minute.
A quick glance at the reports would lead you think that these calls represented great sales leads. But now we know better. It’s the quality of the call that matters, and that’s the true test of the value of the media you’re buying.
So next time you’re pitched on a campaign that promises to keep your phone ringing off the hook, take the time to ask some tough questions about the leads you can expect. You might just hear something that will really ring true.