This post was sponsored by CallRail. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.
Many industries were hit hard by the pandemic, but few were as impacted as marketing and ad agencies.
Analysis of month-to-month call volume and duration data during 2020 by CallRail, a marketing tracking and analytics platform for phone calls and web forms, shows that the marketing and advertising industry saw a 29% drop in call volume.
Only the travel and hospitality industry faced steeper declines, with a 39% drop.
In a recent CallRail report that looks at the collective data of more than 100 million calls across small businesses, including marketing and ad agencies, total customer call volume dropped 26% between the end of February and the middle of April as many businesses were forced to temporarily close.
But, as businesses reopen and consumers begin to resume many of their pre-lockdown habits and activities, our call data is continuing to reveal new insights for marketing agencies that can be useful as they look to get business back on track.
What Call Data Reveals for Marketing
Marketing budgets are one of the first items on the chopping block during an economic downturn, and this pandemic has been no exception.
At the outset of lockdowns, 76% of experts said they expected to see cuts in marketing budgets, according to Gartner.
Many businesses froze their marketing budgets and it’s had an impact on marketing agencies.
CEO of Publicis, Arthur Sadoun, noted, “In March, the rate of decline has been more dramatic than anything we have seen in the past.”
CallRail data shows that in addition to the drop in call volume in the advertising and marketing industry, call duration was down by 12% during the spring lockdown from pre-COVID levels.
These declines had a significant impact on marketing agencies, with 66% saying they experienced a decrease in overall revenue due to COVID-19.
Call duration went back up to pre-pandemic levels as businesses reopened.
By July, average call duration in the advertising and marketing industry was back to where it was at the beginning of the year – 2.6 minutes – after having dropped to 2.3 minutes.
It has continued to climb since, with call duration at 2.9 minutes at the end of August – an 11% increase from before the pandemic.
“Businesses are trying to survive and rebound,” said Allison Reinart, Senior Marketing Partner at Cardinal Digital Marketing, regarding the recent increases in call volume for the marketing and advertising industry.
“Also, many closed or slowed operations, and are now working to get back into full gear as much as possible. As a result, marketing in many industry segments has increased.”
What Should Agencies Do Next?
Post-lockdown call volume growth in the advertising and marketing industry has increased by 79%.
The increase in call activity indicates that companies are ready to re-engage in marketing to their customers.
Research shows that for 85% of consumers, brand loyalty goes out the window during a crisis, and some of the customers who try a new brand will be converted.
This makes it essential that companies that cut back or froze their marketing efforts during the early stages of the pandemic reboot those efforts.
And marketing agencies can play a critical role in helping companies retain or recapture customers.
Agencies with the skill sets and technological tools to create campaigns and consistency across channels will have the advantage now.
More than half of companies use eight or more channels to engage their customers.
While no one has a crystal ball, it is clear that an integrated, consistent customer experience is as important as ever.
Customers are dependent on the web now that in-person contact is more limited, but calls are the next best thing to face-to-face conversations.
A strategy that would serve businesses even beyond the pandemic is one that integrates all areas of marketing, including social, advertising, content marketing, local SEO, and offline campaigns.
Align Clients’ Marketing Efforts
CallRail call data is signifying that customers want to do business, and businesses want to market and get the word out that they’re ready for customers.
It also indicates the important role phone calls play in the new normal of contactless transactions.
Agencies that are poised to help businesses in today’s physically distanced environment will rebound better than those that aren’t.
Omnichannel tactics – across online and offline points of contact – provide consistent customer experience and allow you to make more informed marketing decisions based on data.
For example, CallRail provides real-time call statistics so you can track the results of your campaigns, whether from the web or offline sources.
Any integrated strategy should include phone engagement because calls are essential, while face-to-face interaction is inconvenient or even impossible.
Marketing agencies can be key to making sure this happens effectively.
Integrated marketing allows you to improve outcomes for clients by viewing data insights holistically.
One of the keys to providing a quality customer experience is consistency across environments and the ability to make improvements in real-time.
The CallRail platform optimizes marketing and increases ROI on PPC, SEO, and offline ad campaigns, demonstrating why it’s important to be able to collect and analyze data no matter how clients are engaging with their customers – whether it be in person, online, or by phone.
To get more insights into the business impacts of COVID-19, download CallRail’s complete report, 100M phone calls show how SMBs are adapting in a pandemic.
Featured Image: CallRail. Used with permission.