As marketers continue to look for new ways to track which advertising channels successfully reach prospective customers, pay per call advertising – where advertisers pay a set price for each call generated by a unique phone number in an ad or ad campaign – is providing valuable ROI. This is largely because of its low-risk approach as advertisers only pay if the ad campaign provides qualified phone leads.
Unlike other performance ad models, pay per call can measure a consumer’s offline activity generated by an online search. With more than 83 percent of consumers searching online and then contacting a business offline, according to a recent study conducted by comScore and TMP Directional Marketing, tracking clicks alone is not capturing valuable offline activity. The same survey also showed that four out of 10 consumers search online before making a transaction offline, proving that in many cases, consumers research online, but buy offline. Pay per call helps close this gap by demonstrating to advertisers which online queries result in offline transactional activity.
A Phone Call is a Valuable Lead
An ad campaign that makes the phone ring is a success by many standards – but wouldn’t it help to know exactly which campaign or media generated the calls? With pay per call, advertisers can place unique call tracking numbers in all media types to measure the direct response of a specific campaign. This includes display ads, online directories, landing pages, email marketing campaigns as well as traditional media. This is beneficial for advertisers, as they can use pay per call to easily track which campaign mediums are generating the most leads. Also, advertisers can use the model to compare the call response among different campaign and media combinations, including specific keyword bundles, search engines, geographic targeting and more. Greater visibility into campaign performance will help advertisers make better decisions about media spending.
Closing the Online Offline Gap
While most advertisers today have pay per click campaigns, pay per call is just starting to gain momentum. But the two models are very similar and also very complementary – they both ensure advertisers are only paying when an ad delivers a valued response. Pay per click and pay per call offer a more complete picture of ad performance as, combined, they track both the online activity through clicks and offline activity with calls. Without this type of program, valuable phone leads might not be captured and attributed to the correct medium. It is important to also understand that the price of a call is typically higher then the price of a click. Calls command a higher price than clicks because calls provide strong lead generation insights. Advertisers have access to data such as the length of calls and the demographic profile of the callers, allowing greater analysis of not only advertising performance but media spending and consumer response.
Budgeting: Dealing with the Unknown
One of the perceived challenges to pay per call is the variable pricing model. While CMOs like the link to performance, advertising managers may be uncomfortable with the budgeting fluctuations. Some advertisers will only agree to a pay per call program if the monthly billing amounts are capped because they do not want to pay for more than is in their current budget, regardless of lead generation. In this scenario, a rollover set-up is a good compromise. Much like a wireless carrier’s rollover minute programs, if an advertiser hits a cap, the overage from another month carries over to meet the advertiser’s set monthly budget and the full value of the advertisement.
How to Use Pay Per Call Successfully
Keys to a successful pay per call campaign include:
1) Define a billable lead. To effectively use pay per call, work with your provider to set reasonable parameters for which calls qualify as billable based on the calls you consider quality leads. Strong benchmarks help a pay per call campaign stay on track and prove the program’s value. The target call durations, unique callers and location specifics will depend on your industry and the media used.
2) Understand the cost of a call. As an advertiser, you can’t control the cost of the call – that is the online advertising provider’s or publisher’s domain – but you should work with a provider that understands and can demonstrate appropriate call benchmarking for the industry. If they are unfamiliar, share data points that are key to pricing a billable call – the value of an average sale, the number of calls it takes to close a transaction, the average call duration, etc.
3) Filter invalid calls. Telemarketing calls represent 10-30 percent of calls made to a published phone number. Pay per call providers should offer tools to filter out telemarketing calls, so that you are paying for true advertising generated calls.
4) Address repeat callers. In some cases, calls from the same phone number on multiple occasions should not be billed. These parameters must be set in advance and often tie to the industry and media. For example, within one week, repeat callers to a pizza delivery franchisee would be treated differently than repeat callers to a landscaping company’s call center.
5) Utilize call data. Take the pay per call program the extra mile and use the caller demographic data to profile your consumers and adjust your campaigns accordingly. See a trend of calls coming from a certain locale? Develop a regional promotion. Evaluate the consumer profile of callers not turning into customers and develop a follow up direct marketing program to secure the sale.
6) Look for operational insights. Call tracking data available with a pay per call program includes tracking how call centers and franchisees manage calls, the caller queue length, and peak calling times, among other data points. Use this data to evaluate how leads are converting and make adjustments to the call handling processes.
For advertisers looking to close the gap between consumers’ online searching and the resulting offline activity, pay per call can help measure online-offline conversion rates. Additionally, pay per call can provide insight into customers that have made transactions based on a phone call and even those who do not make a purchase. This lead generation data is critical to the success of an effective advertising campaign and helps ensure advertising spend is allocated properly. Advertisers must work closely with providers to set appropriate benchmarks and accurately define billable calls for a successful program.
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