Marchex Exec: Lead generation moving away from ‘faceless transactions’

By John EganAugust 18, 2014

Driven by the surge in mobile, lead generation is evolving from “faceless transactions” to human interaction, a mobile advertising executive said Aug. 14 at the opening session of LeadsCon New York.

Pete Christothoulou, founder, president and chief operating officer of Seattle-based Marchex Inc., said more brands are incorporating phone calls into their lead generation strategies as consumers move more toward mobile devices. A key reason: Lead forms traditionally used for desktop campaigns don’t convert well to mobile campaigns.

“The trend we’re seeing is as consumers are obviously embracing mobile as a predominant information source, these brands are needing to think about how they connect with them in a different way,” said Christothoulou, whose company provides mobile advertising technology. “The techniques that they use on the desktop actually are not transferable to mobile.”

To serve mobile customers who find it difficult or impossible to fill out online lead forms, brands are weaving click-to-call functionality into their mobile campaigns, giving rise to the need for more people answering phones at call centers.

On top of that, social networks are jumping on the click-to-call bandwagon. Earlier this year, various media outlets reported that Twitter is testing click-to-call buttons on ads for several brands.

“We think calls are strategic. The way online transformed performance from offline, mobile will transform performance from online,” Christothoulou said in an interview.

Industries coming to that realization include hospitality, health care and financial services, according to Christothoulou.

During the LeadsCon session, Christothoulou presented a Marchex case study that demonstrates the value of click-to-call technology. A Fortune 500 financial services company that traditionally has relied on lead generation via desktop adopted Marchex’s pay-per-call platform. In less than six months, the pay-per-click initiative generated more than 134,000 qualified leads that converted into more than 46,000 new customers. The revenue lift attributed to those new customers: $92.6 million.

The company told Marchex that it has “completely reimagined” its optimization strategy in 2014 “to directly weight calls against online quotes.”

A recent Google study supports that approach. The study found that a phone call “is the most common response to a local search,” according to Advertising Age. In fact, the trade publication noted, millennials are more likely to call a cable or satellite TV provider than their parents. That pattern is repeated with car rental companies, banks and home automation providers.

Christothoulou said the trend of mobile-generated calls “translates to many brands, not just the ones that seem obvious that are traditional DR [direct response] brands. We think, over time, for brands that want to drive sales on mobile, they need to embrace calls.”

This article is brought to you by LeadsCon New York.

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