In 1995, Larry Page and Sergey Brin met. Google launched its search engine as BackRub in 1996, changed its name to Google in 1997, and sold out an initial public offering at $85 a share in 2004. Today, Google is valued at over $150B. In 2006 Andrew Mason launched “The Point” to provide a forum for public debate of complex issues. Eric Lefkofsky provided $1 million of support and the site launched. The site evolved first into a public petition site and then into Groupon. In October 2008 Groupon offered its first deal, a half-off coupon for the pizza restaurant on the first floor of the Groupon office building. Groupon is now positioned to go public with a valuation of up to $20B.
These two overnight success stories tap into the same basic business need to produce astounding success. Let’s examine this business need, beginning with Google.
While Google’s accomplishments in search set a new standard for web search, the company’s ability to monetize search was the most significant accomplishment. Web banners and Internet advertising were not new when Google introduced Adwords, nor was Adwords the first PPC advertising platform. In 1998 Jeffrey Brewer presented the pay-per-click concept at a TED conference. Google didn’t introduce Adwords until October 2000. Google’s success is a result of both execution and refinement of a very simple idea. Provide marketers with a tool they can use to measure, manage and automate their advertising spend and they will rapidly adopt your platform.
Prior to Adwords, Internet advertising platforms did not provide the inventory, flexibility and immediacy required by advertisers. Adwords did. For the first time, advertisers were able to spend as much or little as they wanted and manage their campaign day-by-day. Thanks to the text format of Adwords, they did not require artists and technology experts to launch a campaign. Anyone with a web browser could get into the game. This led to a significant move of advertising dollars from offline media to Internet media. Offline media results are difficult to measure, require long lead times prior to publication, and are complex, if not impossible, to change post release.
Now let’s analyze the similarities between Google and Groupon. Both companies began by improving business practices already in use. Coupons are hundreds of years old and daily sales may be even older. Groupon has been able to build a company worth billions of dollars by promoting coupons. Much like Google, Groupon has delivered management, measurement, automation and ease of use to a process that was difficult to manage and use in the past. Groupon coupons are able to run almost immediately, may be tracked back to an individual customer, and required very little up front investment. What can we learn from both Google and Groupon? Deliver measurability to a marketing or advertising process and businesses will flock to your service, companies will gain a valuable new tool, and consumers will gain access to valuable promotional pricing and product information.
How can an understanding of both Google’s and Groupon’s success help you with your business? Emulate their best practices and begin managing, measuring and automating all of your marketing and advertising efforts. One of the first places you should apply this technique is to your telephone.
Let’s take a look at a couple areas of advertising where better measurement, management and automation all offer the potential to significantly improve business economics. The direct response television marketplace is growing rapidly. US direct response TV advertising spending increased 2% year-over-year to $1.59 billion in the first quarter of 2011, according to a June 13th Kantar Media report. Running a television ad consists of a long and expensive process. After scripting and producing the ad you need to determine what happens when a customer responds. Often the requested response is a phone call to a number displayed at the end of the commercial.
Generally these phone calls from potential customers go to a call center. This is where the problem begins. As an advertiser you may not have a lot of visibility into how the call center handles your calls. You may not know if half of your callers were getting busy signals because the call center was under staffed or if the customer leads you paid for hung up because they were left on hold in a call queue for much too long. Since the telephone number inserted into the ad is owned by the call center it is difficult to change call centers. In summary you may not have the tools you needed to manage, measure and automate the routing of your phone calls.
The same problems apply to newspaper or magazine ads. If you list your main company number in an ad you have no way of knowing which ads are working and which are not. Using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions such as Ifbyphone you can solve these problems.
Instead of advertising call center numbers you do not control, or your main company number, which makes it hard to manage responses, use call tracking numbers. A call tracking number is a virtual phone number you rent by the month and fully control. Place these trackable numbers in television commercials, newspaper ads and all other offline and online advertising media. You use an online web portal to direct how to forward the calls from your ad. By using different numbers for each ad or media, you have the data you need to determine which ads are working and which are not. Additionally, with call tracking numbers you can use an interactive voice dialog to prescreen the call and forward the caller to the optimal sales person, call center or office location. You have complete real-time visibility into every call, which allows you to measure the performance of your ad and the effectiveness of your call center.
This is only the beginning. With voice based marketing automation tools you are able to manage, measure and automate all aspects of a call into your business, from your business to a customer, or initiated by a web transaction. These tools work with any phone system and both fixed and mobile telephones, VoIP or PSTN. As a result of better measurement and monitoring of your media campaigns you will save money on inefficient campaigns, identify sales and call center resources that are ineffective, and improve customer satisfaction through more responsive call handling.
Ifbyphone is a better approach to measuring and managing off-line advertising. While Google closes the loop for online advertisers and Groupon closes the loop for coupon advertisers, Ifbyphone closes the loop for advertising where the customer interaction is by phone. Don’t miss out on closing the loop for all of your advertising efforts, start tracking your calls today.