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How AI Maximizes Phone Call Intelligence for Lead Marketing

yan Johnson, the Chief Product Officer at CallRail
yan Johnson, the Chief Product Officer at CallRail



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Ryan Johnson (00:00:00 to 00:00:22)

So what words were spoken during the call? Did they use certain keyword phrases that you may want to point out? You may want to auto-qualify those calls based on the certain words that they use. So, if they say credit card or if they say appointment, you may auto-tag it as an appointment set or a sale main or those types of things.


Announcer (0:00:22 to 0:00:40)

Welcome to Paychex THRIVE, a Business Podcast where you'll hear timely insights to help you navigate marketplace dynamics and propel your business forward. Here's your host, Gene Marks.


Gene Marks (0:00:41 to 0:01:03)

Hey, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of the Paychex Thrive podcast. My name is Gene Marks and thank you so much for joining us. Whether you're listening to us or joining us online via video, we're happy that you're here. I'm also happy that Ryan Johnson is here. Ryan is the Chief Product Officer at CallRail. Ryan, first of all, thank you so much for joining. I'm glad you're here.


Ryan Johnson (00:01:03 to 00:01:06)

Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Super excited to be here.


Gene Marks (00:01:06 to 00:01:48)

Yeah, as I said before we even started recording, this is a sales call for CallRail. We're going to talk about the products, the platform. I've been through it and like I said also this podcast is all about talking to people and companies that impact our audience, which are small businesses, medium-sized businesses, employer-owned companies. And CallRail does. I think our audience needs to know about what you guys do and what platforms like you do. So, let's start from there. Tell us a little bit about the company and the platform and a little bit of the history there.


Ryan Johnson (00:01:48 to 00:03:18)

Yeah. So CallRail is an AI-powered lead intelligence platform. The genesis was really around what happens when a person picks up the phone. And for many years there is a black box of customers and potential customers that are researching your business online, finding it from maybe Google, organic, or a Facebook ad, or whatever it may be. And how do you attribute that?


That lead actually came, that called you, actually came from that source so you can optimize your marketing spend. And that was kind of the real simple problem CallRail was trying to solve almost 10 years ago. And over that time has really evolved to analyze the conversation that's happening. There's so much great intelligence when people are talking and what can you actually do with that? And so not only are we taking the kind of core attribution of where this phone call came from and what's driving these leads, but then once you're having that conversation with that really important lead, what are ways that you can optimize it, whether it's coaching your agents, or whether it's finding solutions and products that maybe customers have asked about that you haven't thought of.


And so really we're into this next phase of intelligence, of helping basically convert those really good leads into your very best customers.


Gene Marks (00:03:18 to 00:03:26)

So, Ryan, my takeaway when I hear your explanation of this is this is for inbound calls, am I right?


Ryan Johnson (00:03:27 to 00:03:43)

Mostly inbound calls and companies that really rely on them. But it can also be outbound calls, as well. We have a small VoIP solution that allows you to kind of track that digital journey 360 degrees. But yes, primarily focus on the inbound call.


Gene Marks (00:03:43 to 00:03:54)

Got it. So, it's inbound calls. It is phone calls. It's not necessarily emails or anything like that. It's for companies that are taking phone calls from prospects, correct?


Ryan Johnson (00:03:54 to 00:04:05)

That's correct. And they could have form submissions and SMS, as well, too. But certainly companies that depend on inbound phone calls as a primary lead makes sense.


Gene Marks (00:04:05 to 00:04:14)

And so does CallRail then integrate with existing phone systems or are you providing your own platform for taking those calls?


Ryan Johnson (00:04:14 to 00:04:43)

Yeah, predominantly we integrate with existing phone platforms. So it doesn't matter who you use for your VoIP provider, CallRail seamlessly integrates into those flows. But we also have a very lightweight VoIP solution that if your requirements are very simple for how you operate your business, you can kind of do that all in one place. But I would say the majority of our customer base uses a third-party system that we integrate with.


Gene Marks (00:04:43 to 00:05:07)

Makes sense. Okay, so it's a cloud-based application, obviously, and we're going to get to conversation, intelligence and AI in just a minute. But when a call is coming in, you mentioned that it's helping me, the business, understand where the call is coming from. Right? How does that work?


Ryan Johnson (00:05:07 to 00:05:43)

All right, so I'm going to make it real simple. Let's say you and I were looking for a dentist in Atlanta, Ga. We both go to the internet and you start searching, let's say, on Facebook, and I start searching on Google and we happen to find the exact same dentist. We click on the link and we're both on the homepage of that dental website at the same time. What CallRail does is it has a little piece of technology called dynamic number insertion, which means that you will see a completely different phone number than what I see.


(00:05:44 to 00:06:05)

And that's how it can attribute our individual journeys, although we're none the wiser. And it can rotate through hundreds or even thousands of phone numbers that really depend on your website traffic and can dynamically scale up or down based on your business. So that's how we know who Gene is. That's how we know who Ryan is. And that stays with you.


(00:06:05 to 00:06:37)

If you come back for another session, you start looking at other parts of the website. That's really a key to the secret sauce on the website. And then more simply, we can put a tracking number, let's say, on a Google My Business or Apple Maps or the side of your truck, and you can name that phone number and really all those things forward to your main business number. But we're using these dynamic numbers to basically understand who an individual is.


Gene Marks (00:06:38 to 00:07:08)

First of all, that is awesome. And it's a really cool way to track where the calls are coming from. It's like a phone-based version of cookies. And just when you say a dynamic number, is it the same area code as my business or is it a toll-free number? I can see, like, if somebody's trying to find my business and I'm in a 610 area code, but the area code that's given is something in Hawaii. It could be off-putting to a potential customer. So how do you guys handle that?


Ryan Johnson (00:07:09 to 00:07:35)

So, the answer is yes, we allow you to customize it, whether it's locale that you care about or 1-800 number or both. And you could do some pretty advanced things. So, if you have multiple locations, think about like a multiple-location law group. They could have offices all around the state. But the way that they're advertising, they may want to route it to the right office based on a phone number. And they want that individual to see the right phone number based on ZIP code and all those types of things. So depending on how sophisticated you want to get, you can kind of do multilocation with different area codes. Or it can be really simple. Could be a 1-800 number or something like that, as well.


Gene Marks (00:07:54 to 00:08:30)

Are you providing any more data? And by the way, stop if you don't want to answer this question. But to me, if a prospect is calling in, they're using a number that's been assigned to them. So, I'm like, okay, we got this guy from Facebook, but is there any other data about that customer or information that you're also capturing or tracking that would help me? Like, oh, this is a person calling from this county in the Philadelphia area or based on their cell phone, they're an iPhone user. I don't know. Is there other kind of data?


Ryan Johnson (00:08:31 to 00:09:21)

Sure. So, it's all first-party data, right, because you're accessing it from the client website, but there is some data around there; It could be what device did you place a phone call from, let's say, a mobile click-to-call on your phone? Could say you're calling from an Android device. You found this through this web browser and those types of things.


Area codes, that stuff gets a little wonky just because of cell phones and that. But there is some other data around there that may be important to the customer, certainly mobile versus desktop could be unique as far as how customers come in and what their journey is. But it's all kind of like ancillary things to help out the primary attribution data coming from the source.


Gene Marks (00:09:22 to 00:09:37)

Good. Okay, that's great. Okay, tell me about conversation intelligence. You alluded to it a little bit earlier in this talk but tell me what CallRail is doing to evaluate our conversation and help.


Ryan Johnson (00:09:38 to 00:11:02)

Yeah, absolutely. So, we've had a product in market since 2016 called conversation intelligence. And really over the past year, it's really gone gangbusters because of the proliferation and the amazing amounts of strides that we've made with AI. And so what's been really nice for us is we've taken a product that's been focused on the conversation – and the very basis is speech to text, right – I don't have time to listen to every phone call, so can I get a transcription of this? And even the accuracy of what we've been able to see in the last six months from what it was six months ago is just completely mind blowing how much better it is and then being able to do simple rules on that.


So, what words were spoken during the call? Did they use certain keyword phrases that you may want to point out? You may want to auto-qualify those calls based on the certain words that they use. So, if they say credit card or if they say appointment, you may auto-tag it as an appointment set or a sale main or those types of things. And that's like the real, real basics. Fast-forward: Today we're doing things like auto-summarization. So, you could have a 20-minute phone call and you have a three-sentence summary of exactly what happened on that phone call along with the sentiment, as well.


(00:11:02 to 00:11:48)

And you can take that information and push it to your CRM or other platforms that you use that data with. And then kind of the bleeding edge stuff is the things that we're doing in CallRail Labs, which is auto generating a follow up email, post phone call, which just seems like truly magical. I think we've all had those great phone calls with a potential lead or a customer; You get off the phone, you got to run to your next appointment you're like, oh, gosh, I want to send them a follow up. Well, you can press a button now and it generates it, and it's truly amazing on the accuracy of what it knows with the follow-up with that person on and then being able to plug that into copy paste into your email or things like Gmail and Mailchimp and those types of things.


Gene Marks (00:11:48 to 00:12:33)

I'm assuming that conversation intelligence, because you had mentioned before that although CallRail primarily deals with inbound calls, obviously works without bound calls. But conversation intelligence would also work with outbound as well as inbound, right? So, if I'm calling back a prospect and talking with them, it can be listening in and providing summaries and doing the things that you noted. By the way, did you see, like in the Wall Street Journal a week ago, there was an article about a lot of the online conference platforms are now giving evaluations to the people in a meeting, seeing if you're too annoying in a meeting. You interrupted too many times, you droned on. I don't know if CallRail is going that direction, is it?


Ryan Johnson (00:12:33 to 00:13:10)

No, we try to keep it agnostic and helpful, I guess. But that's right. I think not only on the outbound side. What's kind of amazing with the outbound side is being able to pull up that other conversation, right? If you're a business that has multiple people on the phone, maybe you're not assigned to an individual lead or something like that. You can quickly pull that up and say, oh, my last conversation before I called Gene, that my counterpart Bob talked to Gene about, oh, it was a positive conversation. Gene was really interested in this. And, oh, I'm about to call him with this promo. Awesome.


(00:13:11 to 00:13:58)

Or even, "Ooh, last time Gene called, he was kind of upset with our, you know, use white gloves when you call him, Ryan." So, there's, there's so many use cases like, you know, we're really in the midst of finding out what's truly valuable, right? Or what's vanity, those things that make you laugh. That's like, oh, wow.


Yeah, I can understand if Ryan is annoying during one of these things are valuable to, oh, wow. Like, I've learned this about this office location that performs really well, maybe not even the individual, but across the board, this is why they close more of these valuable leads versus maybe another one of your locations. And not having to do that very manual, doing it in an automatic and programmatic way.


Gene Marks (00:13:58 to 00:14:28)

I really wonder if applications or platforms like CallRail and there's other customer, call center and customer-experience platforms, as well. That they're trying to provide coaching to the agents or the reps while they're in the midst of the call, like mention this or say that, or bring up this product, they'd be interested or whatever. And that's all using AI to do that. And I often wonder, is there a line for doing that before? You know what I mean? Like a rep is like, leave me alone.


Ryan Johnson (00:14:29 to 00:15:12)

Leave me alone. Yeah, we focus mostly on post call. Real-time transcription is much more expensive. It's not quite up to the accuracy as post call, though. It's quickly getting there. And that's some of the things that we get, especially with small and medium businesses having that coaching for, especially maybe a niche type of market isn't quite there yet and people are very leery. Right? And yeah, sure, I'm sure we'll see it over time. I certainly don't think I would want someone in my ear coaching me real time. Let me improve post-call, but yeah, real time, I kind of have a little question mark there.


Gene Marks (00:15:12 to 00:15:51)

Yeah, I feel the exact same way. So, we're talking about calls coming in and sometimes calls going out. We're talking about, you can track it, right, from an ad. There's Google Ads, I guess, Microsoft ads, Facebook ads. It's generating like this unique number. So, that's how we're tracking it. So, I'm learning a lot here. And then we've got conversational intelligence. So, it's listening to your conversation, providing you a summary of it, and then maybe in future providing some coaching and training post-call. So, all that's going on. I didn't ask you about the form tracking because we're just talking about calling. What is form tracking? How does that work into this whole sort of dynamic?


Ryan Johnson (00:15:51 to 00:16:34)

Yeah, so I think it's just another channel, whether it's chat or forms or SMS. What we've tried to do is a lot of our customer base and SMBs, they have a website and they have a form for someone to fill out, And we want to make sure that we capture that journey because many times the person's already called you or maybe they fill out a form and then immediately called you and in your form you had fill out all this information. They spent all this time, they pick up the phone and they go, why am I explaining it to you again, Gene? I just submitted the form. So, how do we connect that together with the journey to make it a better experience for that end customer?


Gene Marks (00:16:36 to 00:16:42)

How do you guys play with CRM applications like Salesforce and others like it?


Ryan Johnson (00:16:42 to 00:17:24)

Great question. They're really critical to the connection of all this valuable intelligence and then having the customers be able to do something with it. So, it's awesome to say, great, Ryan, you can do all these things, but I can't utilize it if I don't have it in HubSpot or Salesforce or a very verticalized CRM. Doesn't matter. So, that's half of really the piece of the puzzle is being able to take all this data, push it into these CRMs and make it in a format that they can use it to either run their marketing automations or sales automations or whatever it may be, and goes the same kind of with a lot of the tools that these companies use.


(00:17:24 to 00:18:01)

So, we use that data to automatically optimize Google Ads so we can send CallRail intelligence to Google and it will basically change the ads based on what leads they're sending that are qualified and what keywords are performing the best. So, integrations of any kind like CRMs, like, yes, it must have, but the ad networks and other systems that these valuable customers use, it's critical to be able to have that connection to each of those systems that they're really in more everyday versus CallRail.


Gene Marks (00:18:01 to 00:18:19)

Ryan, who would you say is like your perfect customer for CallRail? You bump into a company regardless of size, but maybe size does factor into it, but you're just like, oh my God, you guys, we're going to rock your world with this platform. This is perfect for you guys. Who would that be?


Ryan Johnson (00:18:20 to 00:19:41)

So, what's awesome is it's very broad. So, I start with, if your company relies on phone calls as a part of their business and leads, especially inbound, that's number one. But we have many customers in health care, home services, real estate and beyond. And so really it's the small and medium businesses. It could be a two- or three-person operation to a multilocation, multistate type of company.


And it's really for those companies that want to optimize, they have to be … their marketing spend, so they also have to be spending money on marketing. And so really it's tying in this journey of, gosh, I spent all my hard-earned dollars on this marketing spend and I really want to optimize it and I really want to make sure that I can close these leads and that's really the perfect customer. And it really spans across all those industries and more in the SMB world and agencies, as well, right?


Agencies are wonderful customers. They're doing all this digital marketing for them and they use CallRail as a way to kind of prove their worth too, to say, listen, we're sending you all these amazing leads and here's the proof for it. Like CallRail can tell us, so let's invest more in the ones that are paying off.


Gene Marks (00:19:41 to 00:19:53)

Anything else that I'm not asking. I feel like I know so much more about CallRail than I did 25 minutes ago. But have we left anything out for people that are considering a platform?


Ryan Johnson (00:19:53 to 00:20:33)

Like, know, I think it starts somewhere. It still amazes me every day that I will run into people, even friends, very intelligent people that have small/medium businesses. I think it was two holidays ago, I was up in Michigan, and a good friend of mine has a physical therapy clinic, actually has two of them, and it's going well. And he was thinking about advertising on Instagram, hey, all these influencers are doing this stuff and maybe I should do it. I just don't know. And I said, you know what? I actually didn't tell you what I do for a living, do I? And he's like, well, kind of. I know CallRail. And I explained it to him.


(00:20:33 to 00:21:19)

He's like, I knew there had to be a solution out there that did this because everybody calls him, right? You got to call to set the appointment, see if you have the insurance, all that type of stuff. So I think it's like, start small, right? Start somewhere.


Whether it's a CallRail or somewhere else, you'd be amazed the phone calls aren't dead. The conversation is more important. And really, this technology is allowing you to do what you're better at, which is running a business and kind of take out the monotony of a lot of these manual things. That's tough to do so that you can go and focus on growing your business.


Gene Marks (00:21:10 to 00:21:40)

Ryan Johnson is the Chief Product Officer of CallRail. That's C-AL-L-R-A-I-L. Ryan, thank you. Great platform. I feel like we are really in its infancy as to what it will be doing over the next few years as you start incorporating more AI into this application. And not that we're replacing workers, but I think you'll be making a lot of customer service reps a lot more productive. So, it'll be exciting to watch. So, thank you for joining us.


Ryan Johnson (00:21:40 to 00:21:42)

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.


Gene Marks (00:21:42 to 00:21:59]

Everybody, you have been watching and listening to the Paychex THRIVE podcast. My name is Gene Marks. If you have any guests you'd like to recommend or need any advice or help in running your business, please reach out to us at Again, my name is Gene Marks. Thanks for joining. We will see you again soon. Take care.


Gene Marks (00:21:59 to 00:22:34)

Do you have a topic or a guest that you would like to hear on thrive? Please let us know. Visit and send us your ideas or matters of interest. Also, if your business is looking to simplify your HR, payroll, benefits, or insurance services, see how Paychex can help. Visit the resource hub at That's W-O-R-X.


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