For anyone still questioning whether phone calls drive significant revenue for businesses, I have news for you.
Last week, $105 million in venture capital was poured into the call space by the likes of Google Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Salesforce Ventures. The companies receiving funding include Pindrop, which helps businesses avoid getting scammed on the phone by analyzing call data, and NewVoiceMedia, a cloud-based call center. A start-up called Unmute also recently raised a seed round led by Greycroft for its product that gets teens talking on the phone again. And by now we all know about Twilio’s IPO plans, which could become a reality as early as Q1 of this year.
It’s true that over the past few months start-up valuations have been correcting, but the bubble isn’t anywhere close to bursting in my opinion. I’m incredibly bullish on the path forward for Invoca and the call industry as a whole. Here are a few reasons why:
Analyst firm, BIA/Kelsey, published its 2016 predictions in December, which highlighted a pretty astounding metric about the impact of phone calls on the economy: “Phone calls will influence more than $1 trillion in U.S. consumer spending in 2016. This is about 15% of the $7 trillion currently spent in the U.S. on offline products and services.
eMarketer also included phone calls as its #1 prediction for this year: “2016 will be the year when consumers’ voices will actually have an impact on marketers. Smartphone usage is driving up the number of inbound calls to businesses and voice activated search has been rising steadily. So, voice for the first time in a long time is back in the mobile spotlight. What that means is that marketers and businesses need to prepare for an influx of phone calls that are likely to come.”
Enterprise Brands Want In
It’s no longer a small business game. At Invoca, we’ve seen record growth of our enterprise customer base, which increased by 375% since 2013, demonstrating a demand for bringing phone calls into the digital age. Marquee brands continue to choose Invoca, including Allstate, Vivint, and SunTrust, solidifying our position as the leader in the fastest growing area of marketing technology: call intelligence.
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Vivint’s VP of Acquisition Marketing, Jason Owen, talk about how Invoca has impacted Vivint’s marketing strategy:
The Smartphone Takes Center Stage
The mobile ecosystem is heading toward 10x the scale of the PC industry, according to Benedict Evans, partner and mobile analyst at Andreessen Horowitz. In a recent briefing with reporters, he called the smartphone the “new sun.” For validation, look no further than Facebook’s revenue growth (100% from mobile) and Google’s confirmation this past year that mobile search overtook desktop search.
At Invoca, we couldn’t agree more with Benedict. Marketers in particular need to stop thinking about mobile as a “channel.” Instead, marketers should treat it as the hub for all of the interactions consumers are having with their brand. As a marketer, focus first on creating a seamless and relevant experience on mobile (and this includes giving customers the option to call!).
Conversation is an Undeniable Part of the Customer Journey
It’s really not surprising to see these predictions given the rate at which people convert via a phone call vs. online (10x more)…especially when they’re in the market for a product that’s expensive and/or complex. Conversations matter in more circumstances than I think most people realize. People want to talk when it’s important — whether it’s surrounding a personal event like a job promotion — or an important business decision like taking out a mortgage for a new home.
All of this is to say, with over 30 years working in the enterprise software business, I’ve seen my fair share of market highs and lows — and there will undoubtedly be more of that to come. However, I hope that you’ll agree that calls have a strong position in the marketing technology stack, and that we’ll continue to see validation among analysts and the investment community to that end.