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How to Use Click-to-Call Functionality for Better Email Attribution


A customer’s interaction with a brand rarely happens in a single touch or even in just one channel. The reality is that customers engage with brands over a variety of channels, including email, social, website, and offline channels like stores and call centers. A marketer’s job? Optimizing the experience across all channels.

Thanks to link and cookie tracking, following a customer’s online journey is relatively simple. But, what happens when they go offline? For instance, what happens when they call? How can you tie that interaction with rest of their journey so you can provide them with the most relevant, tailored experience possible? How can you measure the impact?

Kyle Christensen, Invoca

In this interview, Kyle Christensen, VP of Marketing at Invoca, a call tracking and analytics software company, shares his insights on tying click-to-call functionality into your email marketing strategy and measuring its return on investment.

Why would a brand want to have click-to-call functionality in their email?

An inbound call is the highest value engagement a brand can have with their customers—converting between 10-15x the rate of a click, depending on the industry. Additionally, there’s a wealth of information you can collect from a real conversation vs. an online form, like product interests, preferences, and likelihood of purchase.

Perhaps more importantly, with over half of all emails opened on smartphones today, adding a click-to-call button is a great customer experience. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that thing we call mobile was a phone before it was a mini computer. So, it really gives marketers a great way to drive more conversions while also giving consumers an easy way to engage with a brand.

Do companies in certain industries benefit more from click-to-call functionality?

Definitely. The companies Invoca sees getting the most benefit from click-to-call functionality tend to be the companies that get the most benefit from phone calls in general, which are companies whose products are at a higher price point or have some degree of complexity.

Industries that have a high degree of complexity, like insurance, travel, cable, telco, financial services benefit from this functionality. In addition, home services, B2B, and even some higher priced retailers can use click-to-call CTAs effectively. You’re probably not going to need to call to purchase a sweater, but if you’re booking a vacation, purchasing an insurance policy, or scheduling an appointment to install a service at your home, having the ability to talk to a real person to answer questions before you buy is hugely valuable.

Are there any particular types of emails that click-to-call CTAs make the most sense for?

Really, anything that’s intended to help a customer in their path to purchase tends to be a great place to include an option to call. And, the truth is customers are calling from those emails today; but, without the right tracking that credit is going somewhere else, like the sales team.

One customer we work with found that after integrating Invoca with their email program, 38% of their email conversions were coming from calls. Imagine what even half that increase could do for a marketing program—we’re talking almost 20% more revenue even if the impact is just half what we’ve seen with actual customers.

Customer service calls, on the other hand, actually have a cost both in terms of telephone company costs but, more importantly, the cost of a call center agent’s time. So, a lot of our customers use our solution to minimize the number of customer service calls driven by marketing.

What sort of information or data is needed to get a “single view” of a customer’s interactions with a brand over email and phone?

The key is finding some common attribute or datapoint that you can use to link a customer’s inbound call to their digital interaction. For example, Invoca provides each customer with a unique phone number at the time they open their email. When the customer picks up the phone and calls, through our integrations with the marketer’s email platform, we can collect information about that interaction, such as the customer’s email address or unique identifier, in addition to campaign data.

Because we’re making that link at the individual customer level, we can feed all the data we’re collecting about that call back into the marketers’ email solution to not only help them improve attribution, but also improve their subsequent interactions with that customer.

How can you track the revenue, conversions, etc. that come from phone calls?

There are a number of ways we track revenue and conversions from phone calls. The most important first step is actually being able to link that call to an individual customer, as well as the specific interaction that drove that call. Traditionally, email marketers have used static numbers where every customer gets the same number. In that case, since everyone has the same number to call you can’t link the results of that call back to the campaign that drove it. That’s how every other solution has tried to solve this problem, but you’re really just counting calls.

Once you’re able to link the call to the person who made it and the campaign that drove the call, you typically have one of two options.

First, for many customers we integrate directly with their CRM or order management system. This allows us to tie back not just conversion data but the actual revenue from that conversion to the specific campaign and even creative that drove it.

For other customers where the technology they use to manage purchases can’t make that connection, we can set up rules that allow you to say “If someone mentions the word credit card,” then count it as a conversion and attribute let’s say $100. And, that’s just a simple use case—we can actually set up complex rules that allow you to build logic around what specifically constitutes a conversion.

How do you include a click-to-call CTA that is appropriate for both desktop and mobile subscribers?

Our view is the customer experience should be relevant to how they’re interacting with your brand, and while click-to-call is great for mobile, it’s not the right CTA for a desktop experience. So, we’ve built our technology so that it’s device-aware. If you’re on a desktop, you get a phone number, since it’s easiest for you to pick up your phone and call. What’s really cool though is we can actually differentiate between a tablet and a smartphone, so you get a phone number on your tablet and you get a click-to-call button on your smartphone.

And, by the way, we’re not advocating replacing traditional CTAs that drive clicks. But, we find that if you give customers the option, many will call. And, there have been studies that show that just adding a phone number to an ad can actually increase clicks, in addition to calls.

Do you have any advice for follow ups for those that click-to-call? How can you connect an offline phone call into an online multi-channel marketing initiative?

That’s a great question—we think that’s just as important as the in-call experience. In order to do that, you need a technology that can collect parameters and tags from third-party marketing tools when a call comes in. This is something virtually all of our customers are doing today.

For example, with Invoca, when a customer calls in we know not just what drove the call, but we can collect your unique identifier as they call, which could be an email address, a cookie, or even their phone number. And, you can actually collect that information from multiple sources at once. That allows us to pass information about the call back to any technology using the parameters we collect.

So, let’s say we continue the example above in cable. Historically a good marketer might have retargeted that customer with an ad promoting a discount for the product they just purchased by phone, which makes sense if you can’t link that abandoned cart to a call that resulted in a purchase. But, with Invoca you can tell your retargeting system to stop showing the discount ad for the product they just purchased over the phone. Instead, maybe you want to show them cross-sell information on a product they mentioned but didn’t end up purchasing.

Do you recommend using a script when answering phone calls? Pros and cons of on-script vs. off-script?

That’s really dependent on the business you’re in. For a more transactional product it can make sense, but for a complex sale like B2B it is harder to do well. It really depends on your business.

What we do advocate, whether you use a script or not, is collecting information about what was said during a conversation and analyzing call performance when specific keywords or phrases are said. For example, what is our conversion rate when they mention a specific competing product during that call. You can use that information to improve rep performance.

How does customer service and marketing overlap when it comes to click-to-call CTAs? How can they work together best?

We primarily work with marketers, but ultimately we think that if you listen to your customers and deliver a personalized experience you’re going to have more highly satisfied customers. The use case with the cable subscription we mentioned above is a good example. If you’re promoting discounts on an expensive product that someone just bought for full price, you’re going to drive more customer support calls. It’s a waste of marketing’s money and it’s a terrible customer experience. Ultimately, listen to your customers and use the insights you gather to engage them in a way that’s personalized and relevant to them.

Have you seen any evidence or case studies that support using phone or call center data to support email segmentation efforts?

A call is the most personal interaction that brands have with their customers, so if you can use that data to build better audiences and personalize the experience for those audiences it will absolutely have an impact.

Customers expect you to listen, especially when they’re literally telling you what they’re interested in. When someone calls and says they’re interested in a Caribbean vacation, would you rather send them an email for the destination everyone gets a promotion for that week or the one they actually told you they’re interested in?


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Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith is the VP of Acquisition & Lifecycle Marketing at Litmus