Missed Call Marketing (MCM) in India

Know How Missed Call Marketing can be Utilized by Brands to Jump on the Bandwagon

There is truth in this self-deprecating humor. Unlike call center campaigns, missed call marketing campaigns were born out a unique problem that Indians faced – affordable handsets but pocket pinching talk rates.


Missed calls started as a way for people to communicate with each other. A few years ago, “giving a missed call” was acceptable to convey pre-agreed things – I’ve reached home, you can pick me up now, I’m going to sleep, it’s time to wake up, a reminder to buy groceries. At its peak, the sophistication of missed calls beat the morse code, hands down. Two rings for yes, one ring for no, three rings for whatever else you’d like it to be (as long as the other person knows the code).

From an acceptable method for people to communicate with each other, it became a way for brands to get people to interact with them. If you think about it, it’s an ingenious way for brands to know exactly what is happening with their target market.

How does a missed call marketing campaign work?

Over the years, there are a bunch of ways in which brands have cashed in on this trend:

Easy way to get updates:

Missed call marketing campaigns are one the easiest ways to give you customers updates. Missed call to a virtual phone number in India is usually followed by an SMS alert with the information requested.

One industry that has done this perfectly is banking. Missed call services are now the best way to find out details like account balance, mini statement of your account etc.


Another fine example of missed call marketing is seen in E-commerce companies which have missed call numbers that allow the customers to find out the status of their delivery.

Customer verification

While OTP is the most common method employed for customer verification, missed call alert is a better alternative. When a customer signs up for an Exotel account, we ask them to verify their phone number by giving a missed to a mobile number. This is an important step in our case because if the phone number is incorrect, the customer will be unable to use Exotel.

Opt-in/Opt-out of lists

It is important to ensure that customers are not spammed by you. If you’re unsure about the kind of updates a customer would like, you can ask them to opt in or opt out of your promotional campaign list using missed calls.

Missed call alert to opt-out of marketing campaigns.

When you Exotel, by default, due to regulations, you will be unable to call DND numbers. But, what if your customers are on DND but you’d like to reach them anyway because they have given you permission to. We used a missed call to confirm this as well.

A detailed read on that here.

Registration / Lead generation

This is one of the most useful ways for a brand to use missed call marketing campaigns. Many companies have built their entire business model using a simple missed call.

This works brilliantly especially in the case of people who do not have access to the internet or any other forms of communication. A simple mobile phone is the primary way for them to reach out to people.

Here are a few of examples from Exotel’s customers:


Agrostar is a mobile-commerce platform through which farmers can procure raw material by giving a simple missed call.

For a farmer, the easiest mode of communication is a phone call. Most of them have feature phones with no access to the internet. So, Agrostar capitalised on what was available to them – a missed call.

Farmers who want to procure raw materials can give Agrostar a missed call. Once a farmer gives a missed call, Agrostar’s executives speak to the farmer to understand what raw material they need and then arrange for the door delivery of these materials.

More than 7,00,000 farmers across Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan already benefitted from their services since 2012.


Babajob is a platform that connects people to jobs they qualify for, irrespective of whether they are on or off the internet. These are jobs that are usually the informal ones. For example, the ones you would try to figure out through word of mouth – say, drivers, cooks, etc.

Their call to action for job seekers is very simple – Give a missed call to find a job.

When a job seeker gives a missed call, Babajob makes an automated IVR call to them to understand their skills and then gets back to them with a relevant job opportunity.

Here’s a complete account of how Babajob uses missed calls to power their business.

Engagement / Votes

Missed call marketing campaigns are a good way to build non-intrusive engagement with customers. Media and TV shows have made the best use of this.

A lot of shows have used the missed call to vote mechanism to build use engagement in a non-intrusive manner.

  Suggested Read: How setting up a simple cloud call center software in India can help your business

Garner support for NGOs

Missed call is an easy way for NGOs to garner support for their cause.

TL;DR #SteelFlyoverBeda garnered the support of over 100,000 citizens in less than 3 days

The campaign to mobilize the citizens of Bengaluru started with a missed call marketing campaign set up by Jhatkaa.org using Exotel’s platform on 21st Sept 2016. People could give a missed call to register their support. So far, they have managed to garner the support of nearly 140,000 people. More than 90% of these people have used the missed call number to express their support.

Indus Action used Exotel to educate parents about the RTE

Indus Action aims to help parents of children who are eligible for admissions under the RTE act. However, most often, these parents are not aware of the process or their rights. By giving a missed call to the Indus Action’s number, the parents become a part of their outreach. They then educate these parents and help them through the admission process.

Read about in detail here

Drive downloads

Missed calls are also a good way to drive app downloads. When you’re doing offline advertisements, the call the action can be to give a missed call to a number to download the app. Once a person gives a missed call on the number, they will receive an SMS with the link to download the app. Thereby, it eliminates the extra step that the users need to do – search, look for the right app etc.



It is important to complete the feedback loop with your customers. Missed call marketing campaigns are an easy way to do this.

Practo does this really well. Every time you book a doctor’s appointment via their platform, they send you an sms to gather feedback. When you give a missed call on the number mentioned, it gets recorded as your feedback for the doctor on their platform.

Here are 3 ways in which you can automated customer feedback.


It is important to complete the feedback loop with your customers. Missed call marketing campaigns are an easy way to do this.

Practo does this really well. Every time you book a doctor’s appointment via their platform, they send you an sms to gather feedback. When you give a missed call on the number mentioned, it gets recorded as your feedback for the doctor on their platform.

Cash on delivery confirmation

Another slightly different way ecommerce companies use this is for confirmation. Especially in the case of cash on delivery (COD) orders. They send their customer an SMS with a number on which they can give a missed call to confirm the COD order.

This simple step helps them save their operational losses up to 80%.

Some innovative usecases with missed call services

Listen to the Prime minister

This is one of the most successful campaigns nationally. For people who don’t have access to a radio or the internet, they can give a missed call to listen to the prime minister of the country talk. This is a powerful usage of a simple tool.

Listen to a story in your language

This a missed call marketing campaign we did with Pratham books, a not for profit organisation who’s aim is to put a book in every child’s hand. We wanted to give even those children who didn’t have access to books, a taste of listening to a story.

Read about the entire campaign here.

A little something for the nation during the Olympics

That image is self-explanatory. While a lot of people wanted to watch the Indian athletes at Rio, they had no idea of the timing of these games. So, we asked people to give a missed call to this number and sent them an SMS with the details of the games for the day.

A missed call is a very powerful tool and presents a lot of options to brands to nurture their relationship with customers and build engagement.

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What our customers have to say


Exotel's automated calls have helped in increasing our service levels and reducing our costs since there is no need for any manual intervention.

Senior Manager - Operations and Strategy

Prateek Jain

The number masking feature has been a very worthy addition to making our customer experience even better.

Former Associate Director - Driver Experience, Olacabs

Satish Chugh

Very supportive and understanding staff who have lived up to every expectation, and at times exceeded them too.

Senior Manager- Last Mile Design, Ekart

Shashank ND

We have worked across cloud telephony players and with other vendors, but the fact is Exotel is dependable.

Co-Founder & CEO, Practo

Praveen Kumar

Exotel's APIs are very clearly defined. Our tech team could integrate them in no time. It’s easy to incorporate into any product.

Assistant Vice President, Quikr Services

Kumar Vinod

We used to use a traditional PBX system before. But that doesn’t have the capabilities of Exotel’s IVR system. So, we decided to use Exotel for our IVR cancellation system.

Senior Manager - Operations, redBus


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