How to make your phone presence a key driver in your marketing mix

As marketers, we spend a great deal of time reading, thinking, and talking about Web presence, whether social networks or content marketing. We also put in a great deal of effort to perfect our brand’s messaging and positioning. We should. When was the last moment you thought about “phone presence” when you were rebranding and brainstorming marketing ideas?

It’s possible that traditional telephony is not the first thing on your mind when you think of content planning, but it might be. Found that more than half of Americans prefer to call a company and speak to someone when they want to do business with them. That’s huge!

The Actionable Research study also found that, despite the fact that smartphone penetration is on the rise, consumers still prefer to call an agent rather than type in their questions and contact information.

Why do so many marketers overlook the opportunities for branding in voice communication? Telephony hasn’t been the hottest new trend in recent years. Is traditional voice communication lacking in PR to promote this older channel of communication?

No matter the reason, a company’s phone presence is just as important for its brand as its mobile and web presence.

Small businesses especially need a strong phone presence as they establish themselves and begin to build their brand.

When developing a voice-channel communication strategy, marketers should keep the following in mind.

1. Choose the right phone number for your business

It may seem like a no-brainer at first: you’ll get a memorable vanity number, such as (800) Tech Doc, to make it easier for your current and future customers to remember it when they need it.

Be aware of the negatives. Vanity numbers are much more expensive, and there are fewer available.

Standard numbers can be very effective if you know what to do with them. Consider getting multiple numbers and assigning each to a different campaign. This makes it easier to track each campaign’s reach, effectiveness, and ROI.

If you are targeting a larger geographic area, such as an entire state, consider getting local numbers for each of the markets within your target area. These numbers can be used to attract customers and businesses who prefer to deal with local companies or have phone plans that charge extra for international or long-distance calls.

It can also be done the other way around. A small business can give the impression of being larger by using one or more toll-free numbers. This perception can attract customers who think that larger companies are better equipped to meet their needs.

2. Align your phone presence with your brand at every touchpoint

According to BIA/Kelsey, two-thirds (66%) of small businesses consider phone calls as the most valuable way of generating leads. What is your first impression of the business, and what do you say to them when they call?

There are some basic best practices. The greeting, for example, should be brief enough that callers do not feel it is getting in the way. Callers could also call a specific salesperson directly or by their last name. This would save them from having to wait on hold. You could also give each salesperson or group of them their number, which will ring their mobile phones through the cloud.

Your automated phone system and greeting should also reflect your company’s voice and branding as much as possible. A formal greeting for an accountant could make callers confident in the firm’s ability to handle their money. However, a marketing or design company might create a creative and catchy message to calm callers in pain or fear.

When selecting your greeting, consider the tone, depth, and gender of your voice. These can all have a different impact on your brand and how it is perceived by your callers. Consider whether it makes sense to hire voice talent to record these messages. Consult your telephone provider to find out if they have worked with voice talent in the past and can recommend one.

Consider using hold messages as a tool to inform callers about your offers, products, and services or to reinforce branding in a helpful, not irritating, approach. It’s sometimes better to be less repetitive and more creative. The marketing team can discuss this within the context of your business’s branding and marketing goals.

3. Be ready to increase your scale to maintain professionalism

According to BIA/Kelsey, mobile search will result in 73 billion phone calls by 2018. This is up from 30 billion callers in 2013. This is just one reason why you should ensure that your IVRs, trunks, and other phone systems are scalable to handle the increased demand generated by a successful campaign.

Hosted phone systems can provide additional flexibility and cost savings when there is rapid growth in employees or if a campaign occurs. Businesses risk buying a system that is too small or overpaying when they buy PBXs on-premise. Hosted solutions allow companies to pay only for what they use at the time they need it. When money isn’t spent on unnecessary phone capacity, marketing budgets can be increased.

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