Web 2 Voice

Voice 2.0, VOIP, Social Media

Weekly Twitter:

  • the good news is that the radar tells me that the snow coming down outside is an illusion #
  • ok, ok,Christmas is WHITE ENOUGH. Stop snowing already #
  • Checking out @MrTweet, my personal assistant for discovering the great followers and influencers in my network! http://mrtweet.net?c=11! #
  • Nice to see the Bears coming out with a sense of urgency…sigh. #
  • maybe the best fake trailer ever(Thundercats)http://twurl.nl/gnjfh1 #
  • @tattooedmommie one more reason to be glad I am not in the Twilight demographic. in reply to tattooedmommie #
  • @tattooedmommie Who is Edward Cullen? in reply to tattooedmommie #
  • Pizza puffs for lunch. Haven’t had those since I worked in the Loop #
  • @AnnaTarkov ITpeople are motivated by caffeine. Buy them some Red Bull or Monster and you will be their best friend. in reply to AnnaTarkov #
  • @TechCrunch unexplained week long delay for Crunchie nominations?FAIL. You need to communicate! in reply to TechCrunch #

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Facebook Connect is now live using Disqus

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

Through my favorite comment system ever, Disqus, I have enabled Facebook connect.  If you have a Disqus profile, you can still use that.  But if not, you can comment using your Facebook profile as well.

One of the main reasons I like Disqus is that I’m lazy.  I didn’t want to manually add Facebook connect, I wanted someone else to do that for me.  Disqus made it as easy as I think it can be.  Yeah, I had to create a Facebook application for each blog that I run, and copy and paste keys into my Disqus page.  But that’s a Facebook issue, not a Disqus issue.

There seem to be a couple bugs, so let me know if you have any issues.  But overall, easy & simple.  Well done to the Disqus team.

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Weekly Twitter:

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Weekly Twitter:

  • @ShawnaCoronado No, I haven’t run over anyone recently. Although I am always looking out for perky people to injure. lol in reply to ShawnaCoronado #
  • @PaulSweeney – although I really think of LinkedIn a a Facebook app these days. in reply to PaulSweeney #
  • @PaulSweeney now that is a good idea in reply to PaulSweeney #
  • @fuadar Maybe it’s just my house, but my speed is horrible. in reply to fuadar #
  • despises his AT& DSL line, and wishes he didn’t switch from Comcast. #
  • cannot be trusted running two twitter accounts. D’oh #
  • Is doing the 100 days, 100 pushups plan, on day 5 #
  • just heard Lt.Gov ask Blago to ‘step aside,’ and imply if he didn’t he’d bring about Illinois Supreme Court proceedings #
  • @havelj You can’t come up with someone better than Topinka, there’s no excuse. #
  • Blago should’ve just done this:http://snurl.com/7p9ie #
  • @AnnaTarkov I can’t imagine the Feds letting him make the appt. He’ll be forced to resign within the week. #
  • @AnnaTarkov how does the new Senator get chosedn?Do you know? #
  • @gabek the guy is a tool. Reeked of the worst kind of politician. What does it say about Repubs that they couldn’t beat him? #
  • Blago in custody. More corrupt than Ryan. Amazing. http://snurl.com/7p490 #

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Screen Pops for inbound calls using IfByPhone and Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase, source unknown

Being in sales, I’m on the phone all the time.  I’m calling people, people are calling me.  And because I talk to so many people all over the country, I can’t tell from the number who the caller is.  Wouldn’t it be cool if I could have something pop up on my screen telling me who is calling?

So I set about writing a little mashup.  The number I give out is my IfByPhone number, so it’s easy to mashup with any number of services.   As I’ve written about before, I’m a big fan of Twitter, so that’s what I’m choosing for my screen pop. So the technique is sending a direct tweet from an account I set up just for this purpose to my main account: khylek.  I like it because I’m usually on Twitter much of the day. When I’m away, I am still going to get an email, since I have my account set up to Email me all direct Tweets.  It’s like a nice little call log.From my IfByPhone account, on all inbound calls, I call a little PHP page and pass the caller ID as a parameter.  From there I look up the phone number in my contact database, and get the person’s name and company with a simple query.  Here is the part of the code for sending the direct tweet.

$ch = curl_init();
$tweet= “You have a call from ” . $contact. ” of ” .$company;
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, 1);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL,”http://twitter.com/direct_messages/new.xml”);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERPWD, “username:password”);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $mydata);

curl_exec ($ch);
curl_close ($ch);
Before I finished this little project, I came across Mark Headd’s post on doing the same thing using Google Talk.  That’s next up on my docket.

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Another Mashup using IfByPhone and Yelp!

I am living proof that writing mashups isn’t as hard as you might think.  I am not a developer.  I do not specialize in voice mashups.  And yet, I can write a mashup that can combine three separate APIs and do something somewhat useful.

As you may recall, I recently posted about a mashup a colleage had written using IfByPhone’s hosted IVR service with Yelp! Yelp is a business review site.  It has a vast number of reviews for bars, restaurants, stores, etc.  It also happens to have an easy to use API.  The original mashup asks for the phone number for a business and reads back information on the reviews.

I decided to add on to the new level, adding in a geo-location aspect to it.  The new mashup takes a 5 digit zip code as input.  It then uses the Yahoo Maps API to turn that into a latitude and longitude.  We then feed that to Yelp, and we get 3 random bars nearby to that area.   You’ll hear the names of the bars, where they are located, and have an option to transfer to them immediately.

You can check it out by calling 866.596.8333.   The menu will ask if you want to get reviews for a business (press 1) or to get bars by entering a zip code.

Again, the main point here is that writing mashups for actual developers (as opposed to those of us who merely play developers on the web) isnt’ hard.   The mashup is written in PHP using IfByPhone’s hosted IVR service to interact withe the voice.

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Nominate IfByPhone for a Crunchie

The company I work for, IfByPhone is trying to get nominated for a Tech Cruch Cruncie award.  If you’re familiar with us, I would seriously appreciate you giving us a nomination.  We’ve started to get a lot of press based on the fact that we have a very open platform for telephony as well as great off the shelf applications (conference calling, store locator, virtual call center).  If you have a moment, please click the link and give us a nomination.  Thanks!

Crunchies

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Cross Post: A simple Phone Mashup with IfByPhone and Yelp

Over on the IfByPhone blog, I posted a note on a mashup one of our guys did with Yelp.  With about 30 minutes of effort, and 20 lines of code, we opened up the entirety of the Yelp review database to anyone with a phone.

What the mashup does is ask you for the phone number of the business you’re looking for information on, and you get the total number of reviews for that business and the average review.  We’re working on phase 2 as we speak.

This is a little mashup that took almost no time, and yet has a good amount of utility (and we have ideas on on more features that will add more value to this service).  I published the mashup mainly to prove a point.  This simple and inexpensive mashup really provides great value to Yelp.  We’re opening up their database so that now it can be used be people with no access to a computer.

The value of a service like Yelp is not so much in the data.  It’s in the use of the data.  It’s great that they have a huge number of reviews on their site.  But it’s not until someone actually sees that data that it becomes useful.  By adding voice access to your database\applicaiton\network you can dramatically increase the usage of that data, and by definition the value of the service you are providing.

I encourage you to check out my post on IfByPhone’s blog.  But if you want to try out the mashup, just call 866.596.8333 and type in the number of the business you want reviewed (use 312.266.1616 for the place with the best ribs in Chicago).

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IfByPhone’s newest Mashup: Inbound Phone calls + Google Analytics = marketing goodness

Excuse me, but I’m pretty excited about a new offering at IfByPhone.

IfByPhone announced on Monday that you can now post phone calls to your Google Analytics account.  Why is this important?  My single favorite acronym: ROI.  If you are in any way trying to measure ROI on your website, you have one major issue.  You know that people are calling in on the phone number you list on the site, but it’s hard to impossible to measure.

Most times, the number listed isn’t specific to the campaign or even the web site.  So even if you could get the numbers on calls coming in, you can’t know which are coming in via the website.  But using IfByPhone and their new mashup, you can take out multiple numbers for online and offline calls and post all call details to your Analytic accounts.  That’s simple.  It bridges a significant gap.

Now, you can not only measure the ROI, the business impacy of the website.  You can measure it from a single interface.  Everything under one roof.  Don’t take my word for it:

Closed Loop Marketing

But with Ifbyphone’s new system, now we can achieve the vision of having web and phone lead data reported in ONE system. And not just any system, but the very popular Google Analytics.

Thomas Howe

Today, ifByPhone hits it out of the park with a simple and brilliant voice mashup solution: the ability to integrate direct-response call data with Web-based advertising available using Google Analytics, making it possible to gauge the overall effectiveness of a lead-generation campaign

Fierce Voip

In the latest “Gee, that’s cool” Voice 2.0 mashup, Chicago-based Ifbyphone has created a mashup to integrate direct response call date with web advertising info from Google Analytics to enable customers to gauge the overall effectiveness of a lead-generation campaign.

Website Magazine

Telephone application platform company IfByPhone made a whopper of an announcement today. Marketers are now able to integrate direct-response call data with Web-based advertising information available from Google® Analytics. That essentially means that it’s now possible to gauge the impact of an offline lead-generation campaign.

Traditional Banner Ads vs. Click-to-call banner ads

It’s easy to advertise on the Internet.  But it’s not enough just to simply advertise anymore.  Taking out a Google AdWords campaign will drive traffic to your website, sure.  You could sign up with an advertising network that will distribute your banner ad to (hopefullly) relevant sites and pages.  And, yes, that too, will drive more traffic to your website

But traffic to your website isn’t the actual goal, is it? More leads, more business – that’s the goal.  What is the other option?  Click-to-call advertising.  Instead of directing prospects to your website, direct them to your sales staff.

Put yourself in the place of a web surfer.  You see an ad, and decide to click through – that’s the first call to action.  Then you hit a landing page with more information.   If the page is built well, there will be enough information to nudge to you learn more.  But still, there are obstacles before you can capture them as a lead.

At a minimum, they have a second call to action – make a phone call, place an order, fill out a webform, etc.  How many things can go wrong inbetween the time they clicked on the ad and the time they have to initiate the second call to action?

  • They could decide to do more research and leave your site
  • They could simply lose interest
  • They could just get distracted and walk away (in my house, this would be children arguing and/or running into walls)

Let’s say they want more information and and fill out a contact form.  I talk to people all the time that complain about lost business because they can’t get back in touch with people after they leave information on a website.  That’s money that you as the advertiser are leaving on the table.

Consider that banner ad as a click-to-call instead of a link to your site.  They enter in their phone number, and their phone rings.  Now they are connected to the sales staff immediately.  It is a single call to action.  That’s a big deal.  On top of that, you have them on the phone, and you know their phone number is valid – because the provider just called them on that number and reached them.

Of course, this approach isn’t for every campaign. If you are selling Swatch Watches, then you don’t want to talk to every single lead. Talking to people who might generate $5 in revenue will actually cost you money.

But if you’re selling a higher ticket item (cars, appliances, insurance, many types of services for example), then every lead is much more valuable to you.  You need to make sure you talk to as many leads as possible, becuase that’s how you are going to close the business.

The big benefits to this approach are that you drastically cut down on abandonment by making it a single call to action, and that you can close the prospect when you have their attention.

On top of all of this, you can do a couple of interesting things using readily available technology like route calls to a local store based on the callers location, or route the callers to a qualification IVR (in this case a series of quick questions) – and route only qualified calls to your sales staff.

So in summary, click-to-call advertising can be a superior advertising method as long as the campaign is for high ticket items.

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