We recently covered Marchex, the leading mobile advertising and call analytics company, opening up its Marchex Search Essentials, to companies of all sizes, at SMX Advanced, the premier event for SEO and SEM professionals. Marchex Search Essentials tackles the key pain points for marketers by attributing every inbound phone call to a paid search keyword. This helps marketers gain the required insights to make real-time adjustments while driving stronger and powerful performance for their paid search campaigns. We caught up with Guy Weismantel, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Marchex again, to discuss the challenges marketers face today choosing omnichannel paths, media budget spend and understanding consumers.
MTS: How has the role of the digital marketer evolved in recent times? What has driven this shift?
Guy Weismantel: Gone are the days when marketing was just an abstract effort to raise brand awareness. CMOs have earned a seat at the execs’ table, and are increasingly looked to as the ‘profit center’ of a company. This is largely the result of new technologies, which have expanded marketing’s involvement to touch virtually every aspect of the customer journey and a company’s operations, from prospecting through to conversion and long-term engagement.
While board-level involvement for marketers has created a lot of visibility and subsequent opportunities to make marketing a larger priority, it’s also created even more scrutiny on marketing budgets, and the resulting ROI. Just like sales teams, marketers are now on the hook to justify the return on marketing spend, show data on customer acquisition, and prove their value in strengthening the bottom line. So, while this is an exciting shift in the role of the marketer, it also creates a new challenge, where CMOs must constantly validate the viability of campaigns and manage engagement with customers and prospects throughout a customer journey that is more complicated today than ever before.
MTS: What do you think is the biggest misconception that digital marketers have about consumers?
Guy Weismantel: It’s no secret that the rise of eCommerce and mobile devices have changed the game for marketers, who are increasingly focused on leveraging site, search, display, video, social and mobile apps to connect with existing customers, and tap into the elusive goldmine of prospects that they’ve yet to convert.
But despite the focus on online channels, I’d say the biggest misconception many marketers face today is in thinking that traditional, offline channels are passé. In fact, research has actually found that the phone is still businesses’ most viable sales channel, as consumers who initiate inbound phone calls during the path to purchase have been proven to convert faster, spend more, and churn less than those that don’t make a phone call. It makes sense if you think about it. Online channels are great tools for researching a product or service, but at the end of the day, it’s a conversation with another person that can help us feel confident about making a purchase. The phone is a key channel for facilitating that interaction and building that confidence. So, while online channels are undeniably crucial in terms of generating visibility, offline channels like phone calls may be the key to not only driving sales but also fostering brand loyalty and engagement.
MTS: In an increasingly complicated omnichannel path to purchase, how can marketers hone in on which promotions and channels would be the most impactful?
Guy Weismantel: The best way to understand your target audience is by analyzing where existing customers came from, and developing highly targeted messages and promotions to get in front of prospects on the channels that they frequent. This can be done in a number of ways.
For one, personalizing promotions – what many in the marketing world refer to as ‘1:1 marketing’ – is key for crafting campaigns that truly resonate, and encourage consumers to take action. Social media can play a big part in facilitating more personalized and targeted promotions. On a basic level, data from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help marketers target certain demographics. Beyond that, savvy marketers can now leverage data from other channels – such as phone calls, for example – to understand how an offline sale ties back to an online interaction on site or social media. To that point, it’s crucial for marketers to measure every channel – not just online – to understand how different touchpoints drive different results. Call analytics is a key source of data; for example, it can inform you if customers reference a certain promotion when making a purchase, or end up not converting, which can be fed back into revamping campaigns or retargeting missed opportunities.
Omnichannel marketers know that the path to purchase differs from customer to customer; from awareness, to interest, consideration and then the sale. So, it’s important to leverage every channel at our disposal and constantly scrutinize the effectiveness of how media spend is being allocated and what campaigns are performing well, to truly understand what’s working and what needs improvement.
MTS: With rising expectations of CMOs, how can digital marketers show value and ROI?
Guy Weismantel: As I mentioned, data and measurement are a digital marketer’s best friend – not just for finding customers, but for demonstrating ROI internally. While there are many solutions in the market focused on digital measurement, marketers often still face a significant blindspot in terms of understanding how online touchpoints influence offline actions and sales. In fact, 90 percent of all transactions in today’s economy still don’t happen in an e-commerce shopping cart.
Fortunately, there are new solutions coming to the fore that can help marketers tie high-value phone calls to online interactions, including determining which channels were key to driving a customer to pick up the phone, and where these valuable customers are ‘living’ online. Beyond call attribution, new audience targeting solutions are helping marketers leverage data from phone calls to re-target consumers that call but do not buy, and find new segments and opportunities that haven’t been targeted before. In this way, attribution tools can not only demonstrate ROI by showing how existing campaigns are driving sales, but they can also help show the value of continued investment, and strategy behind often-subjective and scrutinized efforts for finding prospects.
MTS: What kinds of new technologies should marketers look for, to help determine how their media spend is allocated, and better connect with and understand their customers and prospects?
Guy Weismantel: Beyond call analytics, attribution solutions, and targeting tools, there are some exciting new opportunities with emerging technologies that marketers should be paying attention to. For one, artificial intelligence (AI) has huge potential for building brand loyalty, and helping marketers better understand consumer behavior and preferences on the path to purchase.
AI is actually already playing a role in many of the solutions I mentioned above, especially in the call analytics space. For example, AI can help marketing and sales teams to quickly analyze data from phone calls to identify keywords that indicate a sale, such as ‘credit card’ or ‘appointment,’ or even indications of a missed sales opportunity. In the same way, AI can flag references to specific keywords, offerings, or promotions, which can give marketers insight into how certain campaigns are performing.
Beyond AI in call analytics, there’s obviously a lot of discussion in the marketing industry regarding how AI will play a role in the customer journey, especially when it comes to online sales. We’ve seen a lot of companies experimenting with chatbots and virtual assistants, in hopes of giving customers more readily accessible resources. As marketers continue to experiment with AI and other new technologies, we can’t lose sight of the enduring desire for a human connection, and the role of offline channels in overall sales, too. New technologies and automation are great for demonstrating a commitment to innovation, and achieving new levels of efficiency, but they can’t take the place of the human connection.
MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Guy.
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