Customer Spotlight: How SmartBug and The Arbor Co. optimize sales and marketing, together

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Choosing an independent or assisted living community is a big decision for seniors and their families. On top of requiring excellent accommodations, they also need peace of mind and confidence in their community management before signing a lease.

The Arbor Company knows this firsthand. With 44 independent and assisted living rental communities across 11 states, they understand that the human touch helps keep prospective residents their families confident and at ease. And part of this process requires them to field plenty of phone calls from prospects who want the peace of mind of talking to a real person, instead of just filling out a form.

Yet optimizing marketing campaigns around phone calls can be difficult without the right people and tools. That’s where SmartBug™ comes in: An integrated marketing agency specializing in inbound, they help The Arbor Company across their marketing efforts with a strong focus on optimizing strategy around phone calls.

The Arbor Company and SmartBug take non-traditional and traditional approaches to call tracking, respectively. And together, these approaches complement one another, resulting in better sales and marketing strategies that bring in more residents.

The Arbor Company: Using call tracking to boost sales

The Arbor Company introduced call tracking to their marketing strategy before adding HubSpot (and even before SmartBug was part of the picture). Initially, they used a solution integrated with their previous marketing agency, but after parting ways they decided to switch to CallRail at the suggestion of their WordPress developer.

With this switch, The Arbor Company could better track their marketing efforts by measuring call volume and determining lead sources, among other things. They also focused on less traditional use cases for call tracking — sales training and business development.

“We have a person who goes through and listens to a number of calls each month, and then we transfer it over to a rating system that we use to measure how well our locations are doing on phone calls,” explained Chris Harper, VP of communications at the Arbor Company. “It’s not really tied to people’s performance or compensation, but this person is rating us on the whole experience, and then we use that training back with the communities.”

Additionally, the Arbor Company makes use of call tracking for sales enablement and building a cohesive customer experience. While new properties are built, leasing staff often work out of temporary preview centers with limited hours of operation and technological capabilities. Normally, this would negatively affect both sales success and customer experience — lacking a solid landline or office doesn’t make it easy to be available to prospective residents.

But The Arbor Company got smart. They set up a tracking number in CallRail that becomes the property’s real phone number, and gets included on business cards, letterhead, online listings, and more. Then, they build custom call flows to forward calls to voicemail boxes, individual cell phones, or route calls round-robin-style with the sales team. This way, they’re helping their sales team keep up with more leads, while also being more available to prospective residents and their families. (It’s a tactic inspired by their impactful resident hotline during hurricanes Harvey and Irma.)

Once the building opens, the Arbor Company ports the number out of CallRail and into their phone system, where it becomes the permanent number for the building. But the benefits of using call tracking for this purpose leave with it. Aside from custom call flows, The Arbor Company also makes use of call transcriptions and keyword tracking to filter for sales calls and forward them to the right people — something you can’t get with traditional telecom providers.

“In some ways it sort of takes the place of a telephone system. In fact, so much so that the next time I open a sales trailer, I’m not even going to put in a phone system,” Harper said. “I’ll have them use their cell phones. Combined with CallRail, I think that would do enough for us.”

SmartBug: Digging into the data to optimize marketing reporting and results

While the Arbor Company has used CallRail for marketing reporting and sales enablement for years, it wasn’t until they partnered with SmartBug that those efforts were taken to the next level. Over the last three  years, SmartBug has used CallRail to not only close the attribution gap between online conversions and phone calls, but also to help focus on measuring only qualified leads.

“A lot of people were coming to the website and either calling or chatting or filling out the forms. That’s where we changed our reporting metrics,” said Mary Cate Spires, marketing strategist at SmartBug. “What I love so much is the predictive lead scoring because we only report on what CallRail determines a qualified sales call. We’re really trying to button up that reporting as much as possible and know where those qualified leads are coming from.”

In fact, SmartBug conducted a 2018 month ROI analysis to determine how call tracking would influence their reporting. It turned out that 25 percent of move-ins generated by digital channels actually started as phone calls, not lead form submissions or chats. This allowed The Arbor Company and SmartBug to attribute more ROI to marketing and get a clearer picture of what was working and not working.

“Compared to a web form, compared to a Facebook message or something like that, having the data from CallRail has enabled us to arrive at that conclusion,” Spires said. “CallRail doesn’t make the calls more valuable, but it allows us to understand that more.”

SmartBug takes this a step further by using keyword tracking to pinpoint which keywords actually turned into phone calls and customers. Combined with CallRail’s HubSpot integration, The Arbor Company has a clearer view than ever of their full customer journey and ROI.

Spires believes these are important talking points for agencies trying to get their clients to understand the benefits of call tracking. This particularly true for brand awareness, which is notoriously difficult to track.

“Where we’re focusing on that brand awareness, we can’t 100 percent measure it. Call tracking is where you can at least see some of your efforts and know how they’re going in the long term” explained Spires. “We’ve invested in different publications because of the data that we get from CallRail.”

Technology as a driving force for partnerships that drive results

SmartBug and The Arbor Company are a prime example of the magic that happens when partners work together to assess business needs, and then follow through with both impactful tech and strategic solutions. Thanks to CallRail and call tracking, both halves of this partnership can take complementary approaches that help more seniors find the perfect housing for their needs.

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