PPC

Are You Still Using LoCall & Callsave Numbers? ...Why?

Brands big and small invest heavily in every aspect of the online and offline consumer journey. Large scale Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) projects analyse each step of online purchase funnels and for services that need to provide a friendly voice to convert, huge budgets are required to fuel call-centre operations. With all this in mind it's kind of odd that so many businesses persist with one barrier to conversion that is so easily rectified. 1850 and 1890 numbers are still everywhere but the thing is nobody wants to call them. In fact, there are even dedicated websites that inform users about alternative numbers to call (saynoto1890.com, moneyguideireland.com)

Usage of these old-school numbers is definitely something, that via experimentation, I would always push clients away from. The long term aim would be to retire LoCall and Callsave from all digital entities and if the client is open to it - offline collateral as well. I haven't encountered an experiment yet that has fallen in favour of 1890/1850.

So what's the story with LoCall & Callsave numbers?

OK, for all you young 'uns out there... many moons ago it was quite common for people to communicate using a piece of telephonic apparatus referred to as the "home-phone" or "landline" which in fact, still exist to this very day.

When making a call via a landline phone costs vary depending on what time the call is made (peak, off-peak) as well as where you are and where you are calling (national, local). That's where LoCall and Callsave numbers come in.

LoCall (1890): Created to enable customers to reach businesses for the price of a local call. So calling Dublin from say, Cork,  wouldn't be as scary for the consumer. These calls are still subject to peak and off-peak costs.

Callsave (1850): Charged to the caller at a flat-rate per call regardless of how long is spent on the line, where the caller is located or what time the call is made.

Right, but don't they save us cash?

OK, bear with me. So, these days mobile networks throw more call minutes at us than we can use. These minutes are invariably "any network" which includes calls to all mobile and landline numbers, which is great. What's not so great is that LoCall and Callsave numbers are not included in any mobile plans which makes them pretty expensive and actually turns them in to a bit of a repellent.

That's all fine but what has this got to do with digital?

It's important to remember that not all products and services suit a rapid online conversion. Buyers of higher consideration goods and services often take their online research offline to confirm any queries and move a purchase forward. Sometimes things are complicated and conclusions can be reached faster and in a more comfortable manner with a simple phone call.

Insurance is a perfect example of a product which still relies heavily on phone call related sales. On the flip side, the upper funnel relies massively on digital traction. Insurance, namely car insurance terms, are the most expensive on the market with astronomical CPCs driven by a fierce market place. In many cases online quotes turn in to offline sales. So both journeys must be optimised as much as possible and combined channel reporting is critical.

LoCall vs. Geographic (01) Number Experiment

Recently, we had a chance to revisit and reprove the inferior status of LoCall numbers for an insurance client.

Click-to-call is an incredibly important feature for clients that rely on phone call conversions. Depending on how the client website performs on mobile vs. straight phone call, two options are available to choose from. These are: show links to call and visit landing page or just show a link to make a call.

online to offline

In order to test LoCall Vs geographic phone numbers (01 numbers etc) it's more effective to opt for "Just the phone number" which displays the actual number that the ad will trigger a call for.

We structured this particular experiment over the course of 6 weeks. One week on, one week off for each number. Perhaps a little lengthy with the sort of impression volume that was being generated. However, this provided us with a solid sample to draw learnings from.

online to offline

online to offline

One thing really stands out in the 1890 ad doesn't it?....that'll be the (Additional charges may apply) message which kind of puts you on the back foot straight away and reinforces a costly, more premium image.

The core KPIs for this test are ad click-through-rate and then rate of continuation to call after the double-verification is negotiated by the user. Double-verification is the pop-up that appears showing the number and the options to cancel or call. This can be measured using mobile conversions or by monitoring call-centre reports for answered calls on your dedicated number.

online to offline

After six weeks activity switching between our 1890 and 01 equivalent we uncovered the following:

  • 01 ad generated a CTR +32% greater than its 1890 counterpart.
  • Double verification continuation rate for 1890 number was -18% lower than 01 clickers.
  • This resulted in the 01 number driving +38% more calls than its 1890 equivalent.

Wow, so pretty conclusive data which supports, in this case, using regular geographic Irish phone numbers in place of LoCall/Callsave equivalents. Both parts of the journey clearly point towards the 01 numbers as the most appealing to user interaction. 

Significantly more users click to call the advert number. Furthermore, at the crucial double-verification step, which as expected incurs the greatest drop-off rates of the process, the 1890 number fails rather miserably with a continuation rate -18% lower than our 01 number.

It’s Finally Time To Remove The LoCall Barrier

In the case of insurance, there are several purchase paths for new customers that become evident. 

The most prominent paths would consist of:

  • Call Only: Users that don't want to negotiate a quote form and just want to talk numbers and policy inclusions over the phone from quote to sale
  • Web To Call: Users that get an online quote then call to seal the deal, immediately or after more research
  • Call To Web: Users that have a chat and cover all bases initially over the phone returning with confidence to purchase online after research
  • Web To Call To Web: Users that get an online quote, call for more details and troubleshooting, return to site and make the purchase online
  • Call To Web To Call: Users that call to get informed, double-check detail online, then after research make the purchase on the phone
  • Web Only: Users that progress all the way from quote to sale online

Granted, if the price is right, customers will generally pursue that purchase regardless of any minor obstacles. However, it's the responsibility of advertisers to facilitate every step of the process. We don't want to give the user any reason for hesitation, procrastination, aggravation or vexation. If a user finds a reason to pause their journey and take a look elsewhere, it could result in a lost sale which is what we strive to minimise.

Anecdotally up to 70% of Irish Car Insurance sales are made offline which is HUGE. Other leading European markets are completely dominated by offline car insurance sales (According to GFK) EG: Netherlands 63% and Germany 80%. Our connected friends in the UK break the trend as a very advanced online marketplace with just 41% of car insurance purchases occurring offline.

All in all we can see the importance of the phone call in the insurance sales journey. So it's one thing opting to use the most efficient phone number for click-to-call ads, its seemingly another to place this number on the advertisers’ site. Just look at the breakdown of Irish insurance sites and the main number cited.

 

On-Site Number

AIB

1850

TOLL

AA

0818

TOLL

Liberty

1890

TOLL

One Direct

1890

TOLL

Chill

1890

TOLL

Allianz

01

01

AXA

1890

TOLL

123

01

01

Aviva

1890

TOLL

25 Plus

1890

TOLL

Its4Women

1890

TOLL

No Nonsense

1890

TOLL

FBD

1890

TOLL

AIG

1890

TOLL


Just two out of 14 use a geographic number which means a whopping 86% use that wonderful LoCall equivalent. Come on people, its time to look at this more closely.

Final Word

It's 2015. When was the last time you thought about...peak calls, off-peak calls, local calls, national calls? These archaic terms still exist but aren't relevant to how people use their phones. If your business is using an 1890 or 1850 number, it's beyond time to put an experiment together and test it versus a geographic equivalent. Let's stop people frantically searching for the "if calling from abroad" number. Instead, we need to facilitate more calls and hopefully more sales.