Balihoo Closes the Local Marketing Loop for National Brands with Twilio-Powered Call Tracking

June 19, 2012
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National brands get tools they need to show up in local searches and close deals for local franchises and affiliates

For more than a decade, national advertisers have approached the web as if location didn’t matter. They invested in a URL, built the best-looking and most useful websites they could, signed up for search advertising and mastered the art of search engine optimization.

This approach worked for years. But then people began switching from PCs to mobile devices. Increasingly, they made mobile search and social networking part of their shopping habits. And they grew savvier about paid search. According to a recent study by comScore, 60 percent of local business searchers don’t believe paid results are trustworthy or believable.

For national advertisers, these shifts in consumer behavior meant trouble. While big brands continued to reach shoppers when they were at the beginning of the buying process, they weren’t connecting when people were ready to take out their wallets. Research from TMP/comScore found that 84% of local searches were followed by an in-store visit, a phone call or a purchase. But national advertisers weren’t showing up in local searches.

Shane Vaughan, chief marketing officer, Balihoo

Balihoo, a local marketing automation firm, offers one solution. By making it easy for national advertisers to create and manage local websites and run marketing campaigns, Balihoo ensures they connect with consumers when they are ready to buy. And, thanks to Twilio-powered call tracking, Balihoo has the analytics to prove its solution is effective.

Call tracking is a process that dynamically provisions unique phone numbers in order to track consumer response to specific marketing activities—like a particular billboard or TV campaign or a web banner.

One of the best practices that Balihoo emphasizes is that phone calls drive local leads. While national brands have long focused on digital conversions, Balihoo discovered that their local affiliates didn’t want clicks, they wanted calls, says Shane Vaughan, Balihoo’s chief marketing officer. Indeed, the local affiliates and channel partners preferred calls to clicks by a ratio of more than 3:1. And it turned out that consumers also preferred to call, rather than click, from their mobile devices. In Balihoo’s experience, approximately 70 percent of conversions happen over the phone.

“Trackable phone numbers have become a really important component of what we do,” Vaughan says. In order to provide reliable call tracking on a national scale, Balihoo turned to Twilio, the leading cloud communications platform. By building a call tracking application on Twilio, Balihoo is able to instantly provision call tracking numbers on an as-needed basis and track whether the calls lead to purchases. “The Twilio platform provided the reliability, scalability and flexibility we needed to incorporate call tracking into local marketing automation,” Vaughan said.

Thanks to call tracking, the benefits to national brands who use the Balihoo platform are easy to measure. Balihoo not only makes it possible for franchises and affiliates to run campaigns that are built around branded marketing materials, it also ensures that no conversion is left uncounted. Vaughan believes call tracking will soon be a best practice not only for national brands but for SMBs as well, because of the value it delivers. “Balihoo customers are enjoying a higher conversion rate thanks to our Twilio-powered call tracking solution,” Vaughan says.

“The numbers tell it all,” he explains. “Phone calls convert at a five times greater rate than clicks and drive higher revenue value.”