Invoca snags Salesforce.com investment, launches new products
Santa Barbara-based inbound call technology firm Invoca has added Salesforce.com to its investor roster and released a new technology that can listen in on customer calls to find out which marketing campaigns drive them and increase the sales that result.
Invoca’s software lets marketers generate unique phone numbers for campaigns and then route and track the calls and sales that result. The company has raised more than $30.8 million to date, with the most recent round a $20 million infusion from Accel Partners.
Invoca did not disclose the amount of Salesforce.com’s investment but said it was part of the Series C round that brought aboard Accel. Last fall, Invoca re-branded itself and added Brett Queener, executive vice president at Salesforce.com, to its board of directors.
Invoca CEO Jason Spievak said the investment is tied to the big leap forward the company is taking with its technology. In previous versions, Invoca’s platform assigned phone numbers to marketing campaigns and focused on routing calls to the right place. A customer looking for lobby hours might be sent to a recording while a customer looking for help closing a $100,000 life insurance policy would be routed to an ace sales team, for example. Data points such as where the call came from, how long it lasted and whether it made a sale were crunched after the fact.
The new product, called Signal, translates the call into text that is analyzed in real time by computers, listening for clues about which marketing messages caused the customer to call and how the call could be converted into a sale or appointment.
“Our technology actually sits in on the call and is able to understand the spoken word by the customer or the agent,” Spievak said. “We’re able to convert the call stream from speech to text in real time and search that call content for keywords that a particular retailer knows are correlated with a sale or positive outcome. In very short order, the retailer can know which of their lead sources and which of their media spending is driving inbound calls that are converting at a better rate.”
But correlating words in a customer call with sales is only part of the technology. Signal also gives marketers the ability to make on-the-fly changes to their efforts. If a particular set of keywords shown in a mobile ad seems to be driving customers to call and close sales at a higher rate, marketing teams can instantly adjust to spend more money on the good keywords and less money on the under-performing keywords.
When marketers know that a certain kind of caller who uses certain words is proven to become a customer at very high rates, they can start to spend less money on easy sells and save resources for the tough sells. “You may be able to put an abbreviated script in front of the call center operator. You can shorten call times. Why take people through a complicated process when it’s clear that they’ll convert with a more efficient process?” Spievak said.
While it will likely take a few years for Invoca’s customers to figure out just everything they can glean from the new data and processing abilities, Spievak said the new platform is a turning point for the company. “It’s complex, no doubt, but it’s going beyond call analysis and into call intelligence, and that is having a real effect on our customers,” Spievak said. “It’s the biggest innovation since the invention of call tracking.”
Invoca said the new Signal technology has been put into use at “one of the world’s largest retailers,” though Spievak said the company could not disclose who the retailer is. He said the new platform is another step toward the company’s end goal of decoding the mystery of what happens on the phone when a prospect calls in and becomes a customer.
“How can the leading marketing automation solutions tell their customers they have visibility into which of their marketing spend is working and which isn’t when they’re completely blind to those tens of billions of high-converting inbound phone calls? We close that loop,” Spievak said.