Columnist Andrew Osmak discusses why phone numbers are gaining importance for marketers as a reliable identifier to gather data, track consumer behavior and attract leads.
Once considered on the decline, phone calls are now the gateway for tracking offline and online consumer behavior in unprecedented ways.
No longer reserved just for voice calls, the phone has become much smarter now with apps, access to the internet, texting, cameras and navigation.
What used to take a variety of tools is now aggregated in one place.
The vast majority of people have access to a smartphone — with nearly 80 percent penetration in the US market — and they’re carrying it with them all the time, picking it up an average of nearly 50 times per day.
Since a person usually has just one smartphone, that phone number is linked to the customer 24 hours a day, wherever they are.
This level of access to a consumer offers a tantalizing opportunity for marketers to bring together all the points of contact on the path to purchase, including online research, phone calls to a business and buying at the physical store, which should make gathering accurate phone numbers a priority.
It’s data science, not a telemarketer’s tool
The growing importance of the phone for consumers should be reflected in the way marketers respond to customers along the path to purchase; but it hasn’t been, leaving this potential channel untapped, or tapped in ways that customers find irritating — such as telemarketers.
By collecting phone numbers, marketers can make full use of all the data connected to consumers without being perceived as invasive.
Rich data enhances targeted advertising
In comparison to an email address, a phone number is a source of rich, robust data on consumers that marketers can mine for targeted advertising, without disturbing the customer.
Collected through online sources that are linked to the number, the data builds a profile of who they are, including pet ownership, renting or owning, employment status and other basic demographic details.
Using this publicly collected data, algorithms can predict the likelihood of the consumer purchasing a car in the next few months or other purchase patterns derived from customers that share fundamental characteristics.
Marketers can use this information to attract high-quality leads and plot out a lead nurturing path that improves their conversion rate.