You’re a B2B marketer living in a data-driven world. Which type of lead do you invest marketing dollars in—inbound phone leads or inbound web leads? If you’re like most of your peers, it’s the latter. You’re nurturing the online path to purchase—probably using a marketing automation tool like Pardot. And while you know there are people calling you, you’re not positive where these calls come from or how to get more of them.

The reality is that an offline conversation beats online engagement any day. I don’t just mean calling your grandmother instead of emailing, or talking to your date instead of texting. In the B2B world, calls are golden. They’re immediate, personal and convert at a much higher rate than clicks do. And calls are driving business more than ever before—by the end of this year, inbound phone calls to businesses will have increased more than 350 percent since 2011, according to BIA/Kelsey

Buyers want to talk on the phone, especially for complex purchases that require a bigger investment in terms of time and money. More than half of tech buyers find it extremely important to be able to call during the research phase, according to Google, and 40 percent find it very important to have personal contact during the “evaluate” and “engage” stages of the buying cycle, according to Gartner.

B2B marketers assume that because inbound calls aren’t part of the online path to purchase, they might as well be ignored. But neglecting to track inbound phone calls will leave a gaping hole in your digital strategy. You know exactly which piece of content, paid search ad, or video spurred a prospect to the next step in the path to purchase online. But what happens when the next step is a phone call instead of a click? You could be abandoning effective campaigns that don’t seem to be converting leads; when in reality those leads are simply converting offline as inbound calls.

As the industry becomes more reliant on data-backed campaigns—and as your marketing budget grows—you need to be able to justify every dollar. In fact, IBM found that ROI on marketing spend is the number one method by which CMOs will determine success in 2015. If your highest quality leads come from inbound calls, shouldn’t you be able to know where they come from and how to get more? Gleanster estimates that a mere 25 percent of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. Your sales reps need more high quality leads—and inbound calls are considered the most valuable lead source by 61 percent of SMBs, according to BIA/Kelsey. 

It’s possible to measure the ROI of the inbound calls you generate. It’s also possible to optimize for more of these valuable leads. It’s time to check your blind spot, and to start measuring marketing performance in terms of both clicks and calls. Your sales reps will thank you.

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