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The Elephant in the Pocket – Pay Per Call

You’ve probably read dozens of articles in the past year forecasting the growth of mobile. There is a lot of hype and buzz around mobile, with good reason – this year, mobile search is predicted to surpass desktop search for the first time ever. The question is are you capitalizing on the growth of mobile? Do you even know how?

The answer lies in phone calls. While many think of phone calls as an outdated way of doing business, the most natural action for a consumer to take while on a mobile device is to place a call, not fill out some lead form or dig around a website. Businesses want phone calls, and for high ticket, consultative sales, consumers want to speak with someone. Yet publishers have avoided pushing consumers offline because of the issue of tracking. Well, that’s not a problem anymore, and it hasn’t been for a while. Savvy publishers and agencies are seeing huge incremental growth streams by adding phone numbers and mobile promotions to their mix, getting paid on a pay-per-call model. With the help of RingRevenue’s patented call performance marketing platform, it’s possible to track calls like clicks and also take things a step further, with campaign optimization and tools specifically built to optimize mobile campaigns. RingRevenue’s Julia Stead chatted with pay-per-call veteran and co-founder of 31 Media Don Batsford Jr, to discuss how he got started with pay-per-call, and why it’s an integral part of his company’s strategy.

Tell us a bit about 31 Media.

31 Media is an online performance marketing agency – in other words, we’re media buyers. With a focus on maximizing ROI, we find the right media placements for our advertisers, and help them get new customers. We’ve been around for over 7 years, and were one of the first companies to implement pay-per-call programs with performance marketing networks, back in 2009.

What got you interested in pay-per-call?

About 10 years ago, while working at Commission Junction, one of the conversations we had a lot was about affiliates being compensated for phone calls. There wasn’t any kind of effective system in place to determine where sales from phone calls were coming from. So this was an issue that had been on my mind for a while. As mobile became mainstream, I’ve been consistently reminding people that the computer in your pocket is actually a telephone. Speaking is by far the most effective form of communication between two people. Subtleties in tone of voice and nuances of intent can mean that one sentence can have 7 different meanings. (Think about “I never said she stole my money” “I never said she stole my money”, “I never said she stole my money” etc). When we heard that Linkshare was using RingRevenue’s technology to track phone calls and offer pay-per-call campaigns back in 2009, we saw the opportunity and jumped on it.

Which verticals and promotional types have you been most successful with?

Phone calls work really well for companies that have big margins. It needs to not be a visually based product – you don’t want to rely on having that visual part to the shopping experience. Services and commodities work well, with lead-based concepts like insurance. Companies that have traditionally had call centers, and have professionals that can vet what a person is looking for quickly are a good fit.

Anything on mobile is going to be effective, because there’s a telephone built directly in there. Placing numbers online on web pages also works well, when people are looking for more information or are pursuing a consultative sale.

We’re also looking to try TV and radio. We haven’t gone into those areas much yet, but we know there is a big opportunity and plan to explore it more.

What is the revenue opportunity in pay-per-call and how do you measure success?
In lead generation in general, people fail to take into account that generating leads is really expensive. Phone calls especially, because you have a human on the other end. So we always avoid commissions that are low – if someone is offering a $2 or $3 payout, it’s a non-starter for cost-per-call (aside from some outlier exceptions). We have traditionally stayed away from niche and low payouts.

The equation for success is pretty simple: your profit is going to be the payout times conversion rate. If you increase payout or the conversion rate, it will exponentially affect the success rate of the program. So we always ask people to go as aggressive as possible on both them. This involves lots of testing and refining the process – testing the IVR (interactive voice response, that filters and routes how calls are handled), changing the payout, different factors. Taking an aggressive approach to finding the best possible way means you can really increase the net revenue.

Without a doubt, pay-per-call is going to deliver a higher conversion rate [than online], it is also more expensive to drive the traffic. Human beings talking to other humans, when that happens, people are serious about it. They are ready to buy. The phone has a lot of advantages. It’s not old-fashioned when it comes down to what you can accomplish through communication.

A lot of people will highlight the ability to increase overall conversions by up to 10%, by simply adding a phone number to a landing page. And once those calls happen, they convert at least 2 or 3 times higher than web traffic. Some people complain that 10% of their traffic is going away, going offline, but that 10% is not created equal. Every person you engage in a conversation is highly likely to convert. Having a phone number on there is almost like catching sales – it’s not like catching traffic and directing it around. It’s equivalent to being able to skim off just the cream from a sales perspective.

If you knew that 30% of your best, premium traffic was being thrown away, you’d be upset. If you know that calls convert at 30%, why would you let them just drift off and leave your website unengaged? Even though they are not the majority of your traffic, they are the important traffic.

Convinced yet that you should be doing pay-per-call? If you’re a publisher, the best way to get started is to check with the performance networks you partner with to see what pay-per-call platforms they offer. If you’re interested in learning more about pay-per-call technology and setting up your own platform, visit RingRevenue.

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Julia Stead

Julia Stead has years of experience in the performance marketing industry and leads the marketing management and strategy for RingRevenue. As the industry-leading provider of call marketing automation solutions, RingRevenue's patented cloud-based platform makes it easy to seamlessly integrate with the solutions you already use. By delivering complete campaign management, clear attribution and practical analytics in one end-to-end solution, RingRevenue helps businesses grow revenue across online, offline and mobile marketing channels.

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