Marketing has changed. Since 2000, essentially all businesses prepared for these changes with toll-free numbers and considered themselves ready for inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is waiting for consumers to call — or text, or visit, or click through to — your business.

Use of the word waiting doesn’t do the concept justice, however. Inbound marketing is not passive, it’s active waiting, or, more correctly, encouraging consumers to contact you. Inbound isn’t a battle for prospects’ attention. It’s not a hard or aggressive sale as much as it is a strategy for presenting your business. Through content on your website, social media, blogs, etc., you encourage consumers who find your products and services relevant to their needs to reach out to you.

Inbound is often applied to the customer journey — from being total strangers to having an awareness of your business, then moving through stages of familiarity and consideration of your offerings, and finally into the decision or conversion phase, where they choose to become customers. A smart business presents content in appropriate channels that suits the interests of prospects throughout this journey. Each portion of your content collection should relate to the buyer’s unique position in the journey and then advance him/her toward conversion.

The trick is knowing if and how the content and the channels are actually moving the customer along in his/her journey. That’s done with data. Even though we’ve moved into instant, digital everything, some significant parts of a buyer’s journey still happen offline, and offline actions must also be tracked and measured.

Offline data gaps can occur due to material differences among marketing channels. Facebook is a terrific place to build awareness and create a community, but social platforms are not where consumers typically go to make purchases or gain deep knowledge of your products/services.

At the other end of the journey, phone calls are rarely first touches. A customer who phones your business may want information that they couldn’t find on your website — and there’s a good chance the customer is ready, or is almost ready, to buy. If you’re not measuring phone calls, you’re likely missing substantial data. The technology of call intelligence platforms makes taking inbound calls while collecting data, recording, transcribing (and more) a simple proposition. Most tracking platforms integrate call data with CRM, practice management software, and other marketing platforms, giving business owners a more complete picture of their potential customers.

Why is call tracking important? It’s a digital world, but calls are far from dead. Even though the integration of the web and smartphones into everyday life has changed our world substantively, phone calls are still alive and well in the marketing process. Capturing, tracking and acting on the intelligence of your phone calls is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.

In fact, the continuing evolution of phone technology has created an environment where mobile searches can result in immediate calls and conversions — all from the same device. Measuring which search queries, ads and content make those calls happen, therefore, will be key to building and refining a winning overall strategy.

About the Author

Jerry DeRosa is Consult YHN’s Vice President, Marketing. He draws from more than 25 years of marketing experience with expertise in direct and retail marketing, advertising and digital media. Previously, Jerry was Director of Marketing Communications for Wolters Kluwer Health, a medical information, data and publishing company.