A new report by BIA/Kelsey shows the smartphone revolution is only just emerging in its ability to generate SMB business leads through native phone dialing. "Phone Calls Are the New Click: The True SMB Marketing Opportunity," illustrates that effective inbound call tracking and analytics to show return on investment is still required to make mobile an effective investment among small and medium-sized businesses.
"Most local commerce takes place offline, but is increasingly influenced online, or through mobile devices," said Michael Boland, VP, content and a senior analyst at BIA/Kelsey. "We've seen a movement towards more tangible and simple lead sources such as foot traffic and phone calls driven from mobile search. BIA/Kelsey data show these calls to be high-intent, which means callers in the buying stage that could easily convert to sales."
BIA/Kelsey's Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) study of consumer media consumption habits reports 66 percent of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) rate phone calls as a good or excellent source of leads, followed by online forms (58.2 percent), in-person (54.1 percent), and email (43.7 percent). In particular, local verticals, such as financial services, home services, and professional services (lawyers, doctors), place a high value on new customer acquisition, underscoring the business opportunity to drive phone leads.
For SMBs to seize lead-generating mobile opportunities, they must have a process for monetization. Technologies being developed for big national brands must be adapted and simplified for SMBs. BIA/Kelsey sees this as a major opportunity for innovation in call monetization, as well as its subcategories such as inbound call tracking and analytics.
"We see from our customers and our own research that SMBs in local markets are an underserved segment for using inbound call tracking to sell and demonstrate the value of digital marketing," said Jason Sommerset, director, product development, Bandwidth. "This is due to the fact that digital marketing has quickly become a science of its own for large enterprises, and these complex systems and workflows still need to be simplified for SMBs. Putting phone leads at the center of the value proposition is a simple and concrete way to demonstrate to SMBs the value digital marketing and a mobile presence delivers to their business without having to make it overly complex."