There’s no disputing that the holidays drive more sales than any other time of year for businesses. What is up for debate is if marketers are doing everything in their power to capitalize on these seasonal trends.
For most, the answer is no.
A growing number of businesses have started to master holiday outreach (specifically omnichannel engagement) and other holiday-induced operational challenges (returns, increased inventory, and sales, etc.), contributing to the more than 154 million consumers that shopped in stores and online on Black Friday alone last year.
However, while businesses are boosting their sales, they’re not doing enough to also boost their intelligence.
Earning a one-time purchase is great for bottom lines. But with better pricing now the top motivator behind consumers trying out new retailers during the holidays, shoppers’ loyalty is fractured and up for grabs.
This is not true for just retailers; even industries not typically as vested in their holiday sales have much to gain from more strategic approaches to the holiday season. Businesses aiming to build long-term customer relationships cannot settle on transactions alone, as this is not where loyalty is earned.
Focusing too heavily on transactions blinds businesses from evaluating and improving other parts of their customer journeys. One such area many are missing is phone calls.
Increased Call Volume Demands Better Call Tracking Capabilities
Inbound calls have been on the rise for some time now. In fact, research from BIA/Kelsey predicts that the number of annual inbound calls to businesses will surpass 160 billion in 2019.
The holidays are a major driving force behind this growth. During the busy holiday season, convenience is king. But so is reliability.
Consumers may prioritize quick and frictionless sales, but there are also heightened pressures to get orders right the first time. And people are picking up the phone to ensure both.
According to new research from CallRail (disclosure: I work here), call volume on major shopping holidays is on the rise.
Here’s a closer look at where each holiday stands:
- Black Friday: Between 2015-2016, Black Friday call volume increased by 107 percent.
- Cyber Monday: Between 2015-2016, Cyber Monday call volume increased by 111 percent.
- Green Monday: As one of the newest retail holidays, it’s no surprise that Green Monday experienced the biggest growth between 2015-2016. Here, call volume increased by 961 percent.
Across the board, call volume has more than doubled year-over-year during the holidays. Yet, businesses certainly have not doubled down on their call tracking efforts.
Marketers may not see this as an immediate concern and instead funnel their holiday efforts and resources toward more traditional in-store touch points, or emerging digital ones. However, every call left untracked is a gift left unopened. A holiday cookie left uneaten. A snowy hill sled-less.
What Marketers Are Missing During the Holidays (And Year-Round)
What are those unopened gifts, uneaten cookies, and sled-less hills?
For businesses, two of the biggest opportunities missed without proper call tracking capabilities are campaign measurement and customer insights.
These opportunities are much easier to identify when decision-makers have access to campaign metrics.
With so many branded advertisements cluttering November and December, oversaturation makes it tough to pinpoint what’s encouraging shoppers to pick up the phone, and what’s pushing them toward competitors.
With call tracking software, this is not the case. Users can assign unique phone numbers to different campaign pieces, which gives them the ability to A/B test different language, mediums, etc.
It also gives them unprecedented access to attribution across channels. Not only is this information useful in making small changes to outreach during the holidays themselves, but what’s learned one year can be used to inform next year’s seasonal strategies.
The second major benefit of call tracking during the holidays is the ability to surface a higher volume and a wider variety of consumer insights.
Notably, businesses can learn more about shopper intent. Again, using unique call tracking numbers, marketers can analyze where during the shopping journey customers are most likely to pick up the phone. As datasets aggregate, businesses can then unearth trends in consumer behavior, which are easier to solve for than single instances of unhappy shoppers.
For example, a business can determine what website page the highest number of calls are originating from. If this is a retailer’s information page, there are a number of conclusions marketers can then draw.
Perhaps they realize they should add more information relating to hours and store locations to future advertisements. This also reveals an opportunity to educate sales team members on this information, as it’s what shoppers are searching for during the holiday season.
Either way, uncovering this insight allows improvement across all touch points.
Making Calls Matter in 2017, 2018 & Beyond
While calls during the holidays are typically made to connect with friends and loved ones, businesses have it within their power to make their calls with shoppers just as fruitful.
Call tracking is just a single tool in a marketer’s arsenal, but it’s one of the most important around major events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Its presence will only prove more consequential as an even greater number of consumers purchase and shop via smartphones.
Is your business ready for when they do?
More Holiday Marketing Resources Here: