UC: Using APIs to Improve the ROI of Your Business Phone System

By Stephen Davis

Unified Communications and APIsFor businesses investing in new technology, the estimated Return on Investment (ROI) is such an important part of deciding which new products to select. Once the technology is purchased and in place, what better way to impact ROI than making sure that every area of your organization is taking advantage of your new tool?  

A great example of this is when you decide to upgrade your business phone system and you deploy a Unified Communications (UC) solution with advanced features. While every department in your company will likely use the basic phone features (placing/answering calls, accessing voicemail and caller ID), there is additional functionality that can be tapped into, especially by your sales and marketing teams.   

Thinking Outside the Box with APIs

One of the ways to put an advanced UC solution to use and ensure you’re getting the greatest return on investment is to use your phone system for more than the out-of-the-box features. With a true UC solution, you can use APIs (or application program interfaces), which are simply tools for building software applications. In other words, APIs give you flexibility to further customize how your UC solution integrates with other third-party applications your business already uses. The simplest use case for APIs is when sales and customer support uses an API to integrate the phone system with your CRM (Customer Relations Management) solution for more visibility into customer information. But how can marketing take advantage of the APIs found in UC solutions?  

Tracking Conversions

Consider that marketing’s goals include delivering a unified message about the company’s product(s) or service(s) and helping deliver leads, or prospective customers, to the sales teams. Lead generation can be a challenge; not only must you develop existing lead sources but you need to continually find new sources.  In today’s growing digital era, many marketing departments rely on promotions to drive prospects to online forms on the company’s website, and possibly even encourage a click-to-chat option on the website to immediately get the prospect engaged with sales. These are great options for call to actions (CTAs). Using clear-cut CTAs, marketing can more easily attribute and measure the impact from specific lead sources by looking at the number of leads created and tracking conversions of those CTAs via web analytics, like Google Analytics.  But if there’s not a clear conversion path identified, how does a marketing analyst know what influenced the prospect? Generally speaking, 15% of leads created are from inbound calls – but to better evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, you really want to know what website page, promotional email, or marketing campaign/offer caused the prospect to pick up the phone and call your sales team.

One way to solve this problem is to have different phone numbers for different areas of the website.  But this can quickly become costly, especially if you are using 800 numbers, which will erode your ROI on the marketing campaign.  This approach also requires the need to build a data extraction tool from your UC system to try to marry the call data to the CRM data.  

Reducing Friction with ‘Let Us Call You’ Options

A better approach is simply adding a CTA to have your sales team call your prospect. Maybe you’ve seen this on other websites where a CTA says, “Let Us Call You” and asks for you to input your phone number in order to receive a call from a sales or support person. Using this simplified messaging also helps overcome another common problem in lead generation…using website forms that require too many form fields, making it cumbersome or off-putting to the prospect.

An article on the Hubspot blog, talks about how the length of your lead capture form can change the submission rates (or conversion metrics). You do not want someone to bounce from your page because they do not want to answer 20 questions on a web form. Having the CTA that simply asks for a phone number is a low friction point for the prospect.  Your web developer can capture the phone number, IP lookup information, and have all this information available in your CRM by the time the call connects, which makes it easier to create a lead record.  Sales will be happy that you already collected their phone number, country, and potentially the company information and marketing is satisfied because they are converting website visitors to prospects and growing the lead pipeline, because this CTA can now be tracked like your other CTAs.  The CTA can show up in your Google Analytics information, allowing your marketing analyst to identify how prospects are connecting with your organization and helping better identify the first engagement point.

Managing Call Costs

But wait, doesn’t this open up your company for expensive international calls or other abuse? To solve international dialing issues, with a little additional JavaScript and web service you can simply look at the visitor’s IP address information and opt to only show the CTA to the IP addresses originating in countries you want to call.  And since you are logging who is clicking the CTA, you can prevent abuse by counting how many times they’ve requested to be called.  After a certain number of attempts you can display your main number for your business, instead of a costly 800 number.  

Using the flexibility of APIs within your UC solution is one of the many ways to improve the ROI on a new business phone system.

To learn more about how you can implement this CTA with Digium’s Switchvox UC solution, visit Digium’s Switchvox Developer Blog for examples and considerations in deploying this technique on your website.

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About the Author

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis was the former Digium's Sales Operations Analyst. With over 6 years of experience administrating and developing in Salesforce.com and Pentaho Business Analytics/Data Integration, Stephen knows all about data and integration. Also, with over 10 years of sales and customer service experience, he understands the tools needed and the reports to drive the business. He is a graduate of Athens State University, earning a degree in Business Management in 2010. In his free time, you will find him running 5Ks to marathons, playing racquetball, and getting some quality time in with his family.

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