Every so often we survey our customers to get their feedback on ways we can improve our service. Most questions revolve around their experiences with our phone network and cloud phone systems, but we like to delve a bit further to identify the main business problems they’re trying to solve.

Concerns about Brexit and how it could impact businesses were a common theme. But on a more micro level, the thing that businesses of all sizes struggle with most is how to generate more good-quality sales leads.

As a cloud telecoms company, we know how vital communication is to growing a business. But no matter how good your communication technology is, if you fail to market your business effectively, you’re going to struggle.

How can your telephone or communication system help you generate sales?

There seems to be a growing trend for businesses to limit the contact options they provide to prospects and customers to an online contact form or social media. However, a 2017 study by Forrester which found that inbound phone calls are the most valuable marketing conversion channel, indicates this approach could be detrimental to sales success

Another study into the types of non-geographic numbers that people feel most comfortable calling found that 0800 Numbers are far more acceptable than other prefixes. With 0800 Numbers now being free to call from both landlines and mobile phones, this may not come as a surprise.

How do virtual phone numbers help when it comes to marketing?

The real appeal of virtual numbers from a marketing perspective is the ability to track where the most successful leads are coming from. With this knowledge, you can target your marketing spend more efficiently.

How does this work in practice?

As a business owner, you’re probably constantly bombarded with offers to advertise your company on one platform or another. Traditionally, these advertising channels would have been “offline”, but the stratospheric growth of online marketing means there are now more options than ever competing for your marketing buck.

Let’s take a quick look at some of these marketing channels

“Offline”, there’s print, radio, television, direct mailers, and outdoor advertising such as hoardings, ads on the sides of buses, or bus shelter ads. “Online” you have pay-per-click search ads (e.g. Google adwords, Bing ads), Social media paid ads, email marketing, sponsored ads on 3rd party sites, sponsored guest posts and video marketing.

In response to this abundance of choice, many companies are afraid of putting all their eggs into one advertising basket. But what they end up doing is spreading their ad budgets too thinly across multiple online and offline channels.

With the call tracking technology that exists today, there's no reason for marketing and advertising being a complete guessing game. Click To Tweet

“Online” sales enquiries, like those that come through a website contact form, are relatively easy to attribute to a traffic channel using analytics tracking software. In the “good old days” Google Analytics even allowed you to see the exact search phrase typed into the search engine that eventually ended up in an online enquiry. Nowadays you can still get that level of granular data, but only through Google Ad campaign data.

Sales enquiries that come via “offline” channels present different challenges. For example, unless they’re specifically asked to do so, salespeople tend not to ask callers what piece of marketing literature or ad prompted them to call. They may be calling in response to an online display ad, or heard a radio piece, or met with one of the team at an event. If the caller doesn’t tell you, or you don’t ask, you’ll never get that information.

Here’s a clever way to track the performance of offline ads too.

Let’s assume your business has five main campaigns running simultaneously – billboard, bus, radio, TV and direct mail.

To allow you to track performance, you need to be able to assign five unique virtual phone numbers to each of these campaigns. Most good quality virtual phone number suppliers will let you to do this at very low cost. Now, when someone calls the virtual number assigned to one of the ads, you’ll have a mechanism that allows you to identify which campaign prompted the call. And, depending on the call tracking platform provided by your virtual number supplier, you may even be able to see how long the call lasted and what the outcome of the calls was, e.g. did it result in a sale?

Taking this a step further, you can allocate unique virtual numbers to your online marketing activities too. For example, by adding a unique phone number to your Google display ad, you’ll be able to track its performance in the same way as you can with offline campaigns.

So with just a small bit of planning beforehand, and the ability to assign unique virtual phone numbers quickly and painlessly, you can track the performance of most if not all of your marketing activities.

The upshot of this is that it allows you to see what works and what doesn’t, which is critical when it comes to deciding how best to allocate your marketing spend for optimum ROI.

What if you don’t have the expertise or time to set up these types of marketing campaigns in-house?

It’s easy to talk about running multiple campaigns and assigning unique virtual numbers as if it’s something we all do every day. The reality, as we know, is very different.

Most freelancers or small businesses just don’t have the budget, let alone the marketing and technology expertise to set up and monitor advertising campaigns in this way. This is why many companies take the course of least resistance, which may mean taking out a basic Yell Directory listing, or running an ad in the local newspaper.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. As a relatively small business, we ourselves recognise how hard it is to build a steady, regular pipeline of new business.

Over the years we’ve tried lots of different techniques, both offline and online. Some have worked well, some have failed miserably. But every success and failure has helped us fine-tune our marketing activities to the point where we’re now able to run a campaign with a specific budget, and be reasonably confident of the level of new sales leads and conversions it will deliver.

Why are we sharing these marketing secrets with you?

The great thing about our business is that the more successful our customers are, the greater the upside for us. Successful, growing companies buy more IP phones and PBX seats as staff numbers increase. Plus, they make lots more calls which generates more revenue for us (even though we have ridiculously good inclusive call plans) This symbiotic relationship is why we treat our customers as partners, and why we came up with a great new LeadGen product.

What’s LeadGen all about?

We sell a lot of 0800 numbers. Up until recently, businesses had the option of paying a tiered monthly fee depending on the type of number they wanted (basic or memorable), the volume of “free” incoming call minutes and any additional cloud phone services required to support the number.

All well and good. But we found that there was one thing missing from this, and it’s something we discovered in our recent customer survey. Having an 0800 or other virtual number still didn’t solve our customers’ main business challenge, which was generating new business.

This is where the LeadGen brainwave came about

As I explained before, over the years we’ve developed and honed our online and offline marketing techniques, to the point where we can comfortably predict the return on every £1 spent. Not many companies can boast that level of marketing predictability.

This got us wondering. Why don’t we offer our customers the chance to benefit from our sales lead generation skills? Well, now you can do just that.

Our recently launched LeadGen service is aimed at generating new sales leads for your business, using the successful techniques we’ve developed. You pay just £3 for every genuine sales call, plus you still get a load of inclusive minutes to use with your 0800 or other virtual number.

Why are we doing this? Well, it’s because we understand that when our customers grow and become more successful, we benefit too. Hopefully as you take on more staff, you’ll want to buy some new IP phones, or upgrade the number of users in your Hosted PBX. The point is, we want you to be more successful, so we’ll do everything in our power to support you on your journey.

How do I find out more about LeadGen?

At the moment, you can only buy our LeadGen service online through our 0800 Number plans.

However, if you want to discuss adding LeadGen to your current virtual number plan, or find out more, call our Sales team on 0800 3101010 or send your enquiry via our online contact form.