Despite a slight decline in calls over the last four years, research by Deloitte tells us that 75 percent of smartphone users still make phone calls, and BIA/Kelsey estimates that mobile search will generate 73 billion calls to businesses in 2018, up from 30 billion in 2013.

So with a solution to help marketers understand why customers call, who is calling, and what is being said in conversations, Invoca announced today that it has secured $30 million in Series D financing. This brings the company’s total funding to $60 million.

The funds will help Invoca expand its operations and focus on helping Fortune 500 marketers gain intelligence on callers, conversations, and campaigns.

“We’re really focused on enterprise adoption because they have the most at stake,” Kyle Christensen, VP of marketing at Invoca, told me. “Some of our enterprise customers are driving hundreds of thousands of inbound phone calls every month. There’s no analytics, no automation, no way to optimize the customer experience. Because of the scale we’re talking about, there are tens of millions of dollars at stake.”


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It isn’t just advertising and marketing that are driving an increase in calls to businesses. In my research on how people complain using social media, a surprising number of “digital natives” and millennials want to talk with someone after the initial complaint.

“Believe it or not, ‘digital natives’ are leaning into calls and conversations more than ever,” Christensen said. “In a survey we did last year with over 2,000 consumers, we found that ‘calling’ is the most valued phone function, and that millennials are three times more likely to call a business than tweet at them. In fact, the ultimate millennial app, Snapchat, just announced that voice calls can now be initiated even if the recipient isn’t already chatting with you, turning Snapchat into more of a phone.”

This trend is partly down to the complexity of some purchases, but it also reflects the poor user experience when browsing websites on a mobile device.

“It’s often far easier and faster to tap to talk to a real person than it is to type a long, back-and-forth email thread or fill out 15 fields in a ‘contact me’ form and wait for a call on someone else’s time,” Christensen said. “While customer service calls are one reason to place a call, in 2016 over $1 trillion in commerce will be conducted over the phone.”

So while simple purchases are relatively easy to manage on a mobile device, that isn’t true of anything requiring a reasonable level of complexity. That is one reason 74 percent of consumers still buy products on the desktop, even when using the mobile as a research device.

“These tools are all fantastic for research and discovery,” Christensen said. “But when it comes to important or complex purchases, conversation is king. When you’re looking to sign up for something like a health insurance policy, a student loan, or a new bank account, a phone call becomes a critical part of that path to purchase.”

So what is next for mobile customer engagement, according to Christensen?

“People aren’t just using their mobile phone as a mini computer; they’re using it to have conversations and connect on a human level — with family, friends, and businesses,” Christensen said. “And the world’s biggest Internet and mobile companies are taking note. Facebook is making it easier for users and businesses to connect through ‘Call Now’ buttons, Google is making click-to-call part of its organic search results, Slack is enabling voice calls, and Snapchat just announced a redesign of its app that features voice calls.”

Bringing everything together and connecting the dots will be key.

“We think the brands that are getting it right are those that recognize phone calls can and should be an extension of the digital experience,” Christensen said. “As individuals bounce from mobile apps to mobile emails to mobile websites to mobile conversations, the experience should be consistent and personalized. No customer wants to hang up the phone only to receive an ad that contradicts the discussion they just had. At the same time, marketers want to be able to get credit for ads that drove a successful call, or help customers continue down the path to purchase.”

This Series D financing is led by Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, with additional participation from existing investors Accel Partners, Upfront Ventures, Rincon Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures, and StepStone.

 

 

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