Do Digital Display Ads Drive Phone Calls?

Do Digital Display Ads Drive Phone Calls?

If the question is “Does display advertising influence consumers to make a phone call?”  The answer to this question is absolutely “yes.”  Digital advertising drives phone calls, but they are not always immediate.

According to a research study done by Marchex, display ads influence 60x more phone calls than they do a direct click-to-call. On average, they find that approximately 2% of phone calls occur directly from display ads or landing pages, and the rest occur in the days or weeks following exposure.

A good digital campaign drives conversions.  Conversions can happen on the website: making a purchase, filling out a form, downloading information etc. but phone calls to the advertiser are also conversions and a lot of advertisers don’t give credit to the display advertising campaign for driving phone calls because they happen later – sometimes even after the campaign has finished.

Marchex research has shown that it can take an average of 500,000 impressions from a display ad with click-to-call functionality to generate a quality phone call. (A quality phone call excludes accidental phone calls and other low-value phone calls.) Interestingly, Marchex also shows that it takes an average of 8,000 impressions from a display ad to influence a phone call within 2 weeks.


Unfortunately for advertisers, very few of these phone calls are traced back to a display campaign, which leads to these advertisers missing 98% of inbound phone calls using traditional analytics methods.  This can prevent marketers from reallocating investments towards top-performing display advertising campaigns.

The lack of analytics to track quality phone calls is one part of the problem, but there is more.

What happens when the call actually takes place? Does it translate to a satisfied customer? Not always.

You would think customer service would be a major focus for most companies – considering one bad experience drives negative online reviews and rants on social media, however that is not the case.

To make it worse, when complaints are voiced and bad reviews and comments are written, they are often ignored. A recent Sprout Social report showed 80% of consumer inquiries on social media sites were being ignored by retailers. According to the data, no more than 20% of customer questions to retailers on social channels were answered.  In Q3, it was 18%.

There are obvious exceptions – I personally called Nordstrom last week with an issue and it was resolved beautifully. There are a few companies who make customer service a priority and it shines through. Unfortunately they are the exception. I have also found myself screaming “representative” at a robot more times than I care to discuss.  And I am not alone.

Most industries do a poor job of delivering excellent customer service and the impact on customer retention and customer acquisition is huge.  Off shore call centers, recorded call routing and long wait times were intended to discourage calls or send consumer to websites for self-service. The frustration on the consumer side also drives them directly to negative online reviews and social media rants. All of this impacts brand perception, and eventually, the bottom line.

So in essence, companies are devising digital marketing campaigns to drive consumers to pick up the phone or go to their website… and then they are treating them badly or ignoring them when they do!

A recent study by call analytics company Invoca found, not surprisingly, that negative experiences with businesses over the phone will impact ROI and loyalty.  The August 2015 survey of more than 2,000 US adults found nearly 75% were more inclined to choose a competitor after a negative phone experience, and 30% were more likely to leave a negative review.

Conversely, the Invoca survey showed that good customer experiences over the phone can have a strong impact on sales and loyalty.  Roughly 80% of respondents said they were likely or very likely to become a repeat customer; and 60% said they were more likely to spend more on future purchases following positive call experiences.

Happy callers means ROI

It seems obvious doesn’t it? If you are driving consumers to call you, pick up the phone and provide a positive experience when they do!  You might even want to do call tracking for you business so you can gain further insight into what happens when someone calls your business.  Click here to find out why we think call tracking is the “hidden gem of digital advertising.”

Share this post