Pay Per Call – A Guide for Beginners

The Internet has given rise to a plethora of new marketing opportunities, from pay-per-click to the endless supply of social media campaigns.  But one of the most effective and valuable modes of marketing available predates the Internet era, and yet it has, even more, applicability today.

I’m talking, of course, about Pay Per Call marketing, which is one of the best ways to make money with affiliate marketing.  Considering that two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, it’s only logical for savvy marketers to take advantage of the technological advances.  And Pay Per Call fits in perfectly with the brave new Internet advertising landscape—research shows that “by 2019, mobile search will drive 162 billion inbound phone calls to businesses.”  This is more than double the roughly 77 billion calls generated last year from mobile devices. Furthermore, “69% of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results.”

Chances are, these trends will continue as consumers continue to move their lives into the digital realm and come to completely depend on their smartphones.

What Is Pay Per Call Marketing? 

Let’s start with a brief history. There are numerous old-school forms of Pay Per Call, such as simple paper advertisements urging consumers to call the number listed and purchase a product or service.  But the method with which you might be most familiar is late-night infomercials, which are designed to spur you to call the number on the screen and try out what they’re selling.

One of the major benefits of Pay Per Call is that it’s easy for companies to track their return on investment (ROI).  In the case of infomercials, marketers assign numbers to each infomercial and can track which consumers are calling which number.  This makes it simple to determine how much bang you’re getting for your buck.

So what exactly is Pay Per Call?

Pay Per Call is a marketing strategy in which merchants pay advertisers and publishers to generate qualified leads who, thanks to the advertising campaign, are induced to make inbound calls to the merchants either to purchase or inquire about a product or service.  The publisher/affiliate who participates in Pay Per Call affiliate marketing earns a commission for every sale the merchant closes.

There you have it.

How Does Pay Per Call Work?

Say a solar panel installation company called Company X wants to generate leads via Pay Per Call. Company X will place an order with an advertising agency to receive a specified number of calls from prospects interested in going solar.  The advertising agency then creates the content and has its affiliate/publisher set up an advertising campaign with forms and tracking phone numbers targeting the right websites and various channels either online or offline to generate leads that will be directed to Company X.

Now, say I want to install a solar panel in my home, and I come across company X’s Pay Per Call advertisements. I fill out a form, and the advertising company will have an agent call and text me to gauge how serious I am. The Pay Per Call platform they are using will further qualify, route and track my interactions with Company X’s campaign.  Assuming I meet Company X’s qualifications for determining that I am a high-quality lead, such as by talking to the agent for at least 2 minutes, I will be directed to Company X’s sales team, and they will take the process of selling me on solar from there.  If they close the sale, the affiliate marketing company that published the advertising material will receive a commission.

In sum, with Pay Per Call the merchant is buying phone calls from qualified leads that have a good chance of turning into a sale.

Though as we’ve discussed, infomercials are easy to track for ROI, it can be very difficult for merchants to ensure their advertising dollars are being spent effectively online with many of the various social media options out there.  But Pay Per Call campaigns eliminate this problem by providing marketers with all the tracking information they need.  This is one of the best Pay Per Call features.  As with infomercials, when doing Pay Per Call online, advertisers select tracking phone numbers to apply to their ad campaigns, allowing them to track each call to the particular pay per call campaign and to the marketer that helped generate the call.  Now the merchant will have a qualified call from a hot prospect, and if they close the sale, you, the publisher, will get a commission.

Pay Per Call Basics

As discussed, the goal of Pay Per Call is to drive qualified leads to a business in a manner that can easily be tracked so that the parties involved can assess the value of the marketing campaign and the source of the lead.  It is often the case that you’ll be running multiple campaigns simultaneously, which makes it all the more important to be able to keep track of a whole host of information.

As other experts have discussed, two crucial aspects of how to set up Pay Per Call effectively are putting in place a comprehensive campaign management system to monitor and control all aspects of each campaign and call attribution.  You’ll want to use a campaign management system to make sure you have control over creating the campaign, assigning tracking phone numbers, terms and conditions of the payout, overall costs, ROI, and the ability to store or pause campaigns that are not active.  Call attribution is the ability to connect each phone call to the particular campaign that brought it about.

There are two basic kinds of tracking phone numbers you can use in Pay Per Call.  The more basic type is to assign a unique tracking number to each publisher and/or campaign.  Much like with infomercials, when prospects dial that number you will know which publisher/campaign to which the call can be attributed.

Dynamic tracking numbers, on the other hand, are embedded in your web content and offer much greater detail about the lead.  One of the best Pay Per Call tips is to use dynamic tracking numbers to determine which keywords and landing pages led the prospect to view your ad and make the call.  You can also use dynamic tracking numbers to trace campaign IDs to a specific advertisement.

Launching A Pay Per Call Campaign

Before you start a Pay Per Call campaign, you have to make a number of important decisions.  One of the best affiliate marketing tips is to ask yourself the following questions well before you launch your campaign:

  • What are your goals?
  • What demographic(s) are you targeting?
  • Which location(s)?
  • At what times will you be placing your ads?
  • Which platforms will you be using? Will they be online or offline?

Let’s dig into this a little.  If you don’t have concrete goals, you will be lost.  You must know where you are headed if you are ever to get there.  Next, you have to know your audience.  Who are they?  What do they want?  What do they love?  What do they hate?  What do they fear?  And so on.

Location and the platforms you will choose are very important for obvious reasons.  A bit less obvious is timing.  You want to make sure you time your campaigns so that the merchant’s sales team will be ready to take the call.  If you generate a lead that calls an insurance company at 1 in the morning, chances are nobody will answer, and if they ever do reach that prospect, it may be too late to close a sale for one reason or another.  So you want to make sure your merchant can strike while the iron is hot and hand off leads at the right times.

Why You Should Be Using Pay Per Call

So why use a Pay Per Call campaign?  While pay-per-click has gotten a lot of attention, pay per call marketing can get much better results. With pay-per-click, conversion rates tend to be low because all the prospect does is click a mouse. For all you know, this could be an accidental click. The visitor might stay on your site for only a few seconds and then vanish forever.

But with pay per call, when a prospect makes a phone call, it’s a strong indicator they’re interested in a product. This is because it requires effort to pick up the phone and take the time to speak with someone. If a prospect puts aside a couple of minutes out of their busy lives to make an inquiry, there’s a good chance your merchant will close the sale.

This means conversion rates tend to be higher with Pay Per Call.  And that translates into more commissions and higher payouts than other forms of lead generation for affiliates, making for a potentially lucrative revenue stream.  Other reasons why Pay Per Call is so popular among publishers are because it gives them an opportunity to monetize smartphones, and it’s easy to track and avoid disputes over how the lead was generated.

In closing, I’d like to paint the picture more clearly with some enticing statistics: “including a phone number increases online CTR up to 30%, average phone order values are 1.5-2x higher than online orders,” and last but not least, Pay Per Call boasts “30-50% call to conversion rates,” compared with a mere 1-3% with pay-per-click.