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DRMA Spotlight: Business by the Numbers

1 Feb, 2011 By: Jackie Jones Response

Dial 800 empowers DR brands through a set of marketing optimization tools including memorable toll-free phone numbers, and call routing and tracking software that puts the client in control.

When do you know you have a message worth marketers’ attention? When it’s one with such far-reaching influences that it could have even changed the outcome of one of America’s highest-rated entertaining pastimes.

During the second season of “American Idol,” only 130,000 votes separated the two finalists: eventual winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken. Yet the television show — which uses an 866-prefix when asking viewers to vote — saw 240,000 misdials to the 800 prefix, a clear sign of just how paramount the toll-free number can be to brands, according to Scott Richards, CEO of Dial 800.

“Ryan Seacrest said the same 866 numbers over and over again, yet there were more misdials by those who dialed the 800 prefix than the difference in votes that seperated the two finalists,” says Richards of Dial 800, which provides direct marketers and agencies the tools to optimize conversion and sales.

“The 800 prefix is just so ingrained in consumes’ mindsets that people automatically make that substitution regardless of the prefix you advertise,” adds James Diorio, COO of the Los Angeles-based Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) member. “People don’t even think about it, so that’s why it’s really essential for marketers to avoid running anything but 800-prefix numbers.”

Dial 800 knows the value of a good number, and the complementary call routing and tracking tools necessary for effective DR campaigns. The company was founded in 1989 as a collection of vanity phone numbers, built up a solid reputation throughout the 1990s with big-name clients such as 1-800-COLLECT, and began developing in-depth software for the DR industry about four years ago.

In recent years, Dial 800 has focused on “marketing optimization,” according to Richards, and offers its clients — some of which include Guthy-Renker LLC; IBC Hearthware Inc., marketer of the popular Nu-Wave Oven; and MoneyMutual with Montel Williams — four key services: RapidRecall, toll-free numbers that are easy to recall by virtue of their numerical patterns; CallView 360°, call-tracking software; AccuRoute, advanced call-routing software; and a save-the-sale direct mail program called Boomerang.

“When you do a short-form radio or TV spot, people might want to buy, but they’re not committed at that point,” Richards says. “Our short-term memory can only hold three to four things at a time and is constantly filtering out information, so if you make any barrier to entry for consumers to pick up the phone — i.e., you make it hard to remember your number — they may not call.”

Richards advises marketers to take advantage of more memorable numbers — those that are easily broken into three or four easy-to-recall “chunks” like 800-870-1111, and points out that Dial 800 is one of the few service bureaus with a plethora of optimal numbers available to marketers.

“CallView 360° gives marketers quantitative and a tremendous amount of qualitative detail about the people calling. So, as opposed to spending $30,000 on focus groups, with insights gleaned from CallView 360°, marketers can sharpen their media buy, reduce the costs of trying to advertise to the wrong people, increase leads and lower the cost per sale,” Richards says.

CallView 360° provides marketers the ability to track which ads are performing the best and record calls. Using a reverse append on the inbound number, Dial 800 can capture the caller’s name and address, as well as demographic data such as household income and ownership.

“There is always a certain number of people who call and decide not to buy or get disconnected — what do you do with those customers who are always part of the mix?” Diorio adds in reference to Dial 800’s “save-the-sale product,” Boomerang. “Boomerang lets us take all that information and then generate and mail a postcard to the interested party that night. One marketer recently saw a 7-percent response rate to their postcard campaign, when the norm for direct mail is 1 percent. It’s reinvigorating the buyer and we’re finding that the return on this is incredible.”

The final part to Dial 800’s equation is AccuRoute — “the single most powerful routing engine I have ever seen, bar none,” Richards says — which is perhaps the most prevalent example of the company’s aim to empower the marketers themselves. AccuRoute gives marketers the flexibility to control call routing on the fly, directing consumers to both boutique call centers for more specialized sales and larger centers for the high-volume calls in a completely customizable manner.

“The marketer has complete control,” Richards says. “I think that is something that is really key. The marketer should have the power.”

Advancing technology and increasing Internet use does not mean the telephone is obsolete — far from that, say Richards and Diorio, who add that there are about 3 billion phone calls per day, more than there were the year prior, and marketers — especially those with soft or higher-priced offers — would be remiss to ignore the benefits an actual phone conversation between consumer and sales representative can provide.

“When the VCR came out, people wondered: ‘Are movie theaters dead?’ Now we know that people still go out to the movies in a big way,” Richards says. “It’s the same thing with phones and it’s important to distinguish. There’s a place for online, but when it comes to a higher-priced offer, you must speak to somebody because there is salesmanship involved in that. That makes people feel comfortable and then they’ll buy, and it also provides the opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell, crucial components for DR.”

Ensuring you have the right type of number, as well as complementing it with a thorough suite of tools, solidifies success for DR marketers looking to increase revenue and sales and improve customer relations.

“We are all about empowering the marketer; it’s about pushing the power up to the marketers,” Richards says. “The marketer is the one person spending all the money and taking all the risks. They should have the power to control the numbers, the routing and everything that has to do with their campaign, and Dial 800 gives them the tools to do just that.”

View a video interview of Dial 800 here.■

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