Phone talking

Despite Black Friday and Cyber Monday flash sales, small businesses in the UK are still braced to answer a sustained influx of telephone calls in the run up to Christmas, according to new research.

One third of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) expect sales over the phone to increase by 40% at Christmas, revealed the survey by Mediahawk, whilst 70% of businesses will leverage social media as their primary marketing channel.

The study also found a fifth of respondents said that telephone sales were expected to ramp up by more than 50% during this time frame, suggesting that regardless of the online explosion, many still prefer to make their transactions over the phone.

Michael Morrell, Mediahawk CEO, said: “The survey results go to show that not all Christmas shopping is carried out online. The telephone is equally, if not more important a sales channel as any other medium.

“With marketing budget being pumped into getting Christmas sales, it’s imperative for SMEs, especially those with tight margins, to know which marketing has driven sales.”

The study revealed nearly three quarters (70%) of SMEs are set to focus their marketing spend on social media channels in order to drive purchases made via the telephone. This year, social media was prioritised over other marketing channels including TV, radio, direct mail, print advertising, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and email marketing. It was retailers and eCommerce businesses (32%) that will be using social media the most.

Although social media was chosen as the primary method, 30% of SMEs said they use at least four channels to market their business over the festive season, with 34% of respondents saying they use traditional media like print, radio, TV and direct mail at this time of year.

The size of the small business did not affect prioritisation of marketing spend, with both large and small businesses evenly split. This may be because driving telesales via social media allows for a much more immediate and measurable return on investment (ROI) and a more level playing field than traditional marketing methods like print and TV advertising.

However, the research still found that most businesses were not properly attributing the calls back to the channels that generated them.

One third of businesses do no attribution tracking on sales made over the phone, despite pumping money into social media marketing. 50% of businesses said they manually attribute their calls, and just 16% use some form of tracking software.

Mr. Morrell added: “Throughout the year, businesses use a multitude of channels to build exposure and drive sales. Attributing their sales calls to marketing activities enables businesses to manage their budgets better all year round - not just at Christmas time”.