Why Facebook Needs to Focus on the Phone Call

By Guest 

ManWith2MobilePhones650Facebook is now a mobile company, but it’s neglecting the most valuable part of mobile marketing: the inbound phone call. In its third-quarter-2014 earnings statement, Facebook reported that two-thirds of the company’s ad revenues came from mobile, compared with less than one-half of the company’s ad revenues at this time last year. It’s no surprise that chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg emphasized Facebook’s dedication to “capitalizing on mobile,” referencing the relaunch of its ad solution, Atlas, and plans to invest in other cross-platform advertising technology.

While Facebook is killing it in mobile advertising — even snagging some market share from Google — the company needs to seriously invest in calls if it wants to keep up with the changing marketing landscape. Several months ago, promising rumors arose about a Facebook click-to-call button, but no further reports have emerged.

Calls will affect the future of monetizing mobile

Calls convert at a rate of 30 percent to 50 percent, while Web leads convert at 1 percent to 2 percent. Companies need to recognize this massive opportunity and enable a mobile experience that embraces the inherent communications capabilities of the smartphone, encouraging consumers to call and not just click.

Shoehorning the experience doesn’t work

Facebook and others are trying to fit the display ad model onto mobile, squeezing attention-getting, rich content onto a much smaller mobile screen. While a standard ad unit might look fine on a large desktop screen, it can easily take up more than one-half of the screen on a smartphone. The display ad model needs to evolve for a new mobile world — one in which native content performs best and the ideal outcome may be a call, not a click.

The customer journey is only becoming more complex

In today’s multidevice world, people are browsing and researching online and purchasing offline. According to Google, 90 percent of consumers begin a search process on one device and complete it on another, and 61 percent of consumers who search on a mobile device make a call as a result. Consumers have questions, especially when it comes to complex or high-ticket purchases, like insurance, higher education or travel.

A truly evolved mobile experience takes full advantage of all of the ways people use their devices — and the thing about the smartphone is that it’s also, well, a phone. The path to purchase doesn’t have to end with an abandoned Web form. Companies need to encourage their customers to call and make it easy to do so from mobile. The next step is tracking those calls to understand where they come from and how to drive more of them.

Companies must embrace a new strategy that takes into account the unique ways in which consumers behave — both online and offline — across devices. Beyond rethinking their ad units, they need to rearchitect their discovery and purchase flows from a mobile-first perspective. Calls are the future; it’s time for marketers to answer.

Jason Spievak is the co-founder and CEO of call intelligence company Invoca, formerly RingRevenue. Prior to that, he was a director and chief financial officer at voice-over-Internet-protocol software and service provider CallWave, where he led the company’s initial public offering in 2004.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.