Pay Per Call Ads: Living Up to the Promise? Report from SMXLoMo

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Not to overuse one of the many brilliant quotes from Jerry McGuire (is it possible to overuse a quote from that movie?), but the SMX team had me at “Hello” or at least once I read the title of this session. Many of us are wondering when this medium will get out of its infancy and start to mature. Pay Per Call has certainly been a polarizing topic for a few years now. Some advertisers (and ad networks) think it can go toe to toe with Pay Per Click advertising. Others have tried it, were totally unimpressed, lost some money, and never want to try it again. And then there are those that haven’t tried it yet, are interested, but aren’t sure how to start.

The panel gave some compelling stats that would make anyone go out and try it today. Stats like Pay Per Call can convert up to ten times higher than Pay Per Click; can have conversion rates up to 45%; can shorten the conversion time significantly; and customers tend to spend more than those that click. These stats all make sense since you are catching buyers when they are ready and actually want to talk with you, not just browse around your site and call you later.

Challenges to Pay Per Call are that inventory and demand for the ads from the users isn’t that high, which makes you question the effort put into the two leads per month you may get. One audience member shared a con and told a story about getting a recycled number from one network and paying for calls that should have been going to someone else. While the case studies can be compelling in terms of ROI, costs can still run higher than PPC campaigns. And finally, a reason not to pay for a call is that Google allows phone numbers in ads now.

Reminders before you start a Pay Per Call campaign, or any campaign, is make sure you dial in the way you process business leads. You need to determine how leads will be tracked and ROI will be determined. Another reminder is that you can’t always control who answers the phone – do everything in your power to make sure it’s your A-team player, one who has all the facts and can close the sale. Don’t put the temp on the phone. This scenario is analogous to optimizing a landing page for your Pay Per Click landing pages. Implement your own Quality Score for the phone calls you receive.

Pay Per Call might just be worth another look. Just plan ahead, track, and don’t expect amazing results on the first day (or month).

About the Author

Hallie Janssen is Vice President at Anvil Media, Inc., a search and social media marketing agency. Janssen also teaches a social media class with the Online Marketing Institute in conjunction with Wharton Interactive. Contact Hallie at 503.595.6050 x221 or Twitter.com/Hallie_Janssen.

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  1. Hi Hallie, One thing about Pay per call is that it requires someone to answer the phone - which costs money - specially if this is a person from the "A" team. I think it would be justified to take this into account when calculating ROI for Pay Per Click Vs Pay Per Call. Emmanuel GetBiz UK, B2B directory