The Pay-Per-Call Opportunity – An Interview with Jason Spievak, CEO of RingRevenue
Q: There has been a lot of buzz lately about pay-per-call, and most of the top affiliate networks are getting on board with it. Tell us what it is and how affiliates can use it.
Jason Spievak: Pay-per-call refers to the use of unique toll-free and local phone numbers that can be used in both online and offline advertising to track the source and effectiveness of an ad campaign. For example, let’s say you see a flyer on a school kiosk advertising a product you want to learn more about. You call that number, and the advertiser knows exactly which ad prompted your call. He may be running ads on flyers all over the country, or using any other media channels online or off, but now he knows where your call came from, and can combine that information with data from the other sources to see how effective his ads are and which ones his customers are finding to be the most relevant.
So, the ability to track these calls either online or off is what makes pay-per-call an exciting opportunity for affiliate marketing. With pay-per-call, affiliates can use telephone numbers in their ad campaigns – whether they’re doing search or email marketing, using video or display ads, social media, coupons, or doing mobile or offline marketing – and get paid for every call they drive to an advertiser. On top of this new way to get paid for their efforts, research shows that just having a phone number in your ad can increase the conversion or click rate, so pay-per-call is a real win for affiliates.
Q: Wait – doesn’t driving calls to a call center cost a lot more? Why would advertisers want to do this? Wouldn’t they rather have consumers buy online?
Jason Spievak: That may be some advertisers’ preference, depending on their product or service. But smart advertisers listen to their customers, and customers often have questions and want to speak with someone, especially for more complex purchases. They’ll purchase a book online, but not an insurance policy. With pay-per-call, the benefits outweigh the costs. Calls convert considerably higher than clicks – 30 to 50 percent compared with one to three percent for clicks. Plus, by adding personalization and upsell potential to a qualified phone call, the average order size is about double.
Q: So advertisers like it because more calls ultimately means more revenue.
Jason Spievak: Exactly. Advertisers can manage online and offline campaigns from one central location, while expanding their reach and improving the effectiveness of their ads.
Q: So why are networks suddenly so interested in this? Call tracking has been around for a while.
Jason Spievak: That’s true. But legacy call tracking solutions failed. They were tough to use, they didn’t take into account the specific needs of both advertisers and publishers to scale, and they weren’t easy for networks to work with, either. Today’s technology makes it easy to track calls like clicks on a large scale.
In the past there were also issues of quality, and we saw lots of fraud in the industry – especially in lead gen. Calls deliver better quality customers. And growth in the mobile sector has helped this take hold as well – there’s more content delivered to the phone these days, so it’s become easy for consumers to interact that way.
Another point worth making is that networks realize they have only been attracting a small portion of advertiser budgets. The bulk of these budgets – 90 percent – goes to offline media sources. Networks see an opportunity to track more transactions and attract more dollars by offering phone-based campaigns for high-end products and services, to capture local and small business ad spend, etc.
Q: So how are publishers making money with this?
Jason Spievak: Publishers make money – more money, actually – by connecting consumers with advertisers by phone using display, search, email or blog campaigns. And that’s just online. As I said before, studies show conversion rates for phone calls are 30 to 50 percent, and consumers are more likely to buy big-ticket items when they can speak to someone live. We’ve seen this high conversion rate drive double-digit pay raises for publishers who have gotten into pay-per-call. And now, because of how successful this has been, we’re seeing many networks increasing publisher commissions for pay-per-call leads.
Q: Wow. That’s pretty enticing. You said that’s just online – you had mentioned earlier that publishers can take their affiliate marketing campaigns offline. Why is that something they would want to do, and how does it work?
Well, even with offline revenue on the decline, there’s still more than $200 billion being spent in the U.S. on offline media. Much of it is being spent to drive more than 20 billion sales calls a year. So let’s say you, Murray Newlands, have your own radio show on a local radio station. That same advertiser may also offer radio ads that you could put on your station, each with a unique phone number, so that you can track which ads are driving the most quality callers, and then focus on those ads to generate the most revenue for your ads. Or, consider the flyer example I gave earlier. For an affiliate to run a pay-per-call campaign using flyers posted to school kiosks or laundromat bulletin boards, the cost of goods is really just a ream of paper.
Q: So, essentially, pay-per-call enables affiliates to expand their reach to channels they may not typically think of when they think of affiliate marketing.
Jason Spievak: Exactly. Again, online advertising today represents only about one-tenth of the overall spend on advertising globally. With pay-per-call, publishers can tap into that incredible revenue opportunity by adding offline media such as print, TV, radio and direct mail to their online campaigns.
Pay-per-call is also a big opportunity for affiliates who aren’t ready or don’t want to get into offline marketing. Adding a phone number allows affiliates to promote more big-ticket items and services online. While in the past a consumer making a large purchase – like a computer, for example – may have hesitated to click that “buy” button because he had a few more questions about the product, he will now just call for more information, and the affiliate still gets credit for the sale.
Q: I love it! Where can affiliates sign up?
Jason Spievak: Contact us, and we’ll help get them set up in our partner networks: firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-338-6101.
Q: Fantastic. Thanks for your time, Jason.
Jason Spievak: Thanks for having me, Murray.
Jason Spievak is CEO of RingRevenue (www.ringrevenue.com), provider of pay-per-call tracking technology to the major affiliate networks.