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Pay-Per-Call: 14 Common Questions Answered

min read
Pay-Per-Call: 14 Common Questions Answered

Performance marketers are masters of efficiency. They know all the tricks to drive online leads and sales through their digital channels in the most cost-effective way possible. But many are ignoring a high-value stream of revenue — the phone caller can appear complicated because it combines both online and offline elements. But with the right pay-per-call platform, advertisers, publishers, and agencies are empowered to generate, track, and analyze inbound calls the same way they do online traffic. For those of you who are still trying to grasp the finer points of pay-per-call, here are some FAQs to get you in the game:

1. What is Pay-Per-Call?

Pay-per-call is a type of performance marketing where an advertiser pays publishers (also known as affiliates or distribution partners) for quality calls generated on the advertiser's behalf. Put simply, pay-per-call tracks calls the same way performance networks tracks clicks. Here's how it works: Advertisers create marketing campaigns designed to drive prospective customers to connect over the phone. A publisher then launches these call-based campaigns and gets credit for the calls they generate.

2. Why invest in pay-per-call?

Pay-per-call is all about intention. When compared to digital ads or posts, customers calling are much more likely to convert because they’re getting the direct connection to an actual person that they’re looking for. Ads may lead to clicks but it doesn’t guarantee conversion. Calls have evolved past the point of interest and either mean a customer is pretty much ready to make a purchase, or needing just a bit more information to get over the threshold of converting. In the end, this all allows for increased ROI and your lead quality is higher.

Customers making calls for purchasing your products or services are low hanging fruit when it comes to gathering leads. They’ve done their homework and are ready to make a purchase, or they need more clarification and are looking to connect with a real person to fill in the blanks before making said purchase. According to a recent study, investing in pay-per-call means higher ROI, and an investment in a 30%-50% conversion rate when compared to clicks which is only 1-2%.

3. What are the benefits for advertisers?

Advertisers who choose to publish pay-per-call campaigns are able to expand their distribution and inbound call volume across multiple channels with minimum added work on their part. They also have the benefit of complete visibility and control over call traffic and customer experience.Maintaining brand integrity and ensuring an optimal customer experience is key when working with new publishers. Pay-per-call gives brands the control they need to test new pay-per-call campaigns and publishers with little risk.

4. What verticals perform well for pay-per-call?

The best verticals for pay-per-call are considered purchase industries that focus on lead generation like healthcare, insurance, home services, travel, legal services, financial services, etc. It also works well with any high-consideration product or service where customers usually require a human touch at some point in the purchase journey. From a retail perspective, anything with an average order value north of $400 are also good candidates.

5. What are the benefits for publishers?

With pay-per-call, publishers can develop a new stream of revenue within their existing business model. It's not about clicks or calls, it's clicks and calls. Pay per call provides an opportunity to monetize online and phone traffic using the existing channels and promotional methods. Publishers will also have the same tracking capabilities and analytics for call traffic that they use for online traffic. They will also have access to new high-value offers with higher commissions.

6. What are some challenges of pay-per-call?

Pay-per-call doesn’t come without its challenges, and data is key. It can be especially overwhelming if your pay-per-call set up is new. Similarly to managing digital ads, you’re going to go through some growing pains until there’s enough data collected to figure out what changes need to be made. Once enough information has been collected, managing and tracking the results of your campaign is the next important step. Luckily, Invoca’s AI call tracking, analytics, and attribution capabilities will allow your team to learn what’s working well, what’s not, how to adjust, and in the end to monetize calls. 

Qualifying leads can be an obstacle as well. Invoca’s AI comes into play here again because it’s capable of automatically analyzing lead quality of every call, even those that are directed from affiliates. This automatization will save your teams’ time, resources, and allow them to focus towards vetted leads that are more than likely to convert. 

Partnering with the right affiliate can be difficult as well. It's really important to make sure your goals, objectives, and industries are aligned. You want the relationship to be beneficial to you both, and if it’s not, it may be time to “swipe left” and move on. Once a strong alliance has been established, like any relationship, it needs to be maintained so that you both can benefit from it! Steve Jobs said it best, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

7. What marketing channels and tactics work best for pay-per-call?

Pay-per-call campaigns get great results from both online and traditional marketing tactics. At Invoca, we see advertisers and publishers driving impressive results through paid/mobile search, display advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), email, print advertising and radio.

Common Pay-Per-Call Traffic Sources: 

  • Google Ads and Retargeting
  • Social Media - Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram
  • SEO/Organic
  • YouTube
  • Newspaper
  • Mail 
  • Directories
  • Radio Ads

8. What are pay-per-call affiliate networks? 

A pay-per-call affiliate network is a sort of win-win relationship. An affiliate will promote your service with a specifically assigned phone number so when calls are made the affiliate gets partial credit, customers are still connected directly to you, and you each get a “piece of the pie” if a sales conversion is made. Now imagine the potential revenue from an entire NETWORK of affiliates!

9. How are calls tracked to their source?

Invoca tracks phone calls in two primary ways: 1. Unique tracking phone number — Each publisher or campaign is assigned a specific phone number. When a customer calls using that phone number, it is tied to the original source. 2. Dynamic tracking phone numbers — By placing a small snippet of code on a website or landing page, unique tracking numbers are automatically populated which capture key online touch points leading to a call, including publisher or referral source, campaign, and keyword.

10. How does a call qualify for a commission?

Advertisers set the criteria that define if a call is commissionable. Typically this is based on the length of the phone call, in addition to other qualifying factors such as the date and time of the call, region of the call, or even the outcome of a call such as a sale or other type of conversion. Unanswered calls or repeat calls also do not typically qualify for commission. Some agencies also use Invoca Signal AI to analyze and classify calls in real time. With Signal AI, agencies can prove to their brand customers that they are providing value and driving conversions and pay publishers for calls that actually resulted in sales.

11. Can calls be filtered?

Yes! Calls can be filtered based on conditions such as time and day of call, geographic location of the caller, phone type, and repeat vs. new caller. Invoca can also filter calls using customers' responses to questions and phone prompts through the interactive voice response (IVR). Based upon these conditions, the advertiser can adjust how much calls should be commissioned. This allows them to pay out higher commission for higher quality calls.

12. Can calls be routed to multiple destination phone numbers or locations?

Yes. Invoca has a feature that allows you to set up rules to automatically route calls to the best destination. For example, a publisher can run a non-branded auto insurance campaign so they can drive calls to several auto insurance advertisers. Based on conditions like the time of a call, the caller's geographic location, or their response to certain questions, the call will be routed to the advertiser that can best help them. This translates to a relevant customer experience and enables the publisher to maximize the number of calls they can receive commissions for. This feature works similarly for advertisers that have multiple stores or locations.

13. When someone calls a business through a pay-per-call campaign, what is their experience?

For customers, making a call through a pay-per-call program is very similar to calling a business directly. Depending on the routing and filtering rules in place, calls will be connected to the advertiser as they normally would. If an IVR is in place, the customer will first go through the IVR prompts just as they would with any phone menu system. The customer won't be able to tell the difference.

14. How do I get started?

There are a number of ways to get started. Invoca provides the technology that powers pay-per-call programs for the leading performance networks, such as CJ Affiliate and Visiqua. For advertisers and publishers that already work with a network, contact your network to see if they have a pay-per-call program in place. Invoca also partners with technology vendors such as CAKE and Tune by HasOffers, and we have technology integrations with CRM and marketing automation and analytics solutions so you can easily add Invoca's pay-per-call solution to your marketing mix. We hope these FAQs gave you a clearer picture of pay per call marketing. For those of you familiar with performance marketing, pay-per-call is just the next logical step.

Your Pay-Per-Call Marketing Checklist

Step 1: Choose Your Pay-Per-Call Partner

Want to make your life easier? Consider working with a single pay-per-call network instead of juggling affiliates and publishers like you're in a circus act. These networks are like your personal call concierges, summoning qualified calls with a wave of their algorithmic wands. You'll never have to guess where your calls are coming from because these networks have a GPS for call intent, geography, and the time of day.

With a pay-per-call network, you get access to a whole host of affiliates and publishers. Plus, they're pros at pacing calls to your contact center, so your agents won't get overwhelmed with high call volumes. When picking the perfect pay-per-call partner, make sure they offer dynamic campaign management (because who doesn't love control?), reliable call volume, top-notch compliance measures, and a stellar reputation that's not just all talk.

Step 2: Decide How You Will Receive Calls

Before setting up your pay-per-call campaign, it's essential to consider who will handle the incoming calls. Ensuring you have the necessary resources in place to manage these calls is crucial to avoid frustrating call sources. In many cases, unanswered calls can still be billable, even if they don't meet the duration requirement, which is a common stipulation in agreements with pay-per-call providers. National brands often route their pay-per-call campaign calls to centralized contact centers, but there are scenarios where routing calls to individual stores, franchises, or employing a hybrid model based on time or day of the week may be more effective. Some businesses also find success by qualifying calls through an answering service before directing them to the appropriate destination along with consumer information. Careful consideration of call handling strategies can significantly impact the success of your pay-per-call campaign.

Step 3: Structure Your Campaign

Our third step involves configuring your pay-per-call campaign to align with your goals. This entails making crucial decisions such as the types of calls you wish to receive and establishing campaign parameters to control costs and performance. It's also essential to provide specific business details, including preferred call hours, target categories and services, and geographic preferences. Additionally, you can choose to share approved ad copy with your pay-per-call provider, and if you have any specific campaign restrictions like call recording or custom IVR, be sure to communicate them to your network.

Before commencing a campaign with your provider, you should also address these questions:

  • What Are Your Campaign Goals? Before launching your campaign, it's crucial to establish clear metrics for measuring its success and ensure that these goals are communicated effectively with your service provider. This preemptive approach not only aligns expectations but also allows for a more focused and effective campaign strategy. In essence, setting clear success metrics and openly communicating them with your provider not only facilitates a more efficient campaign but also strengthens collaboration and accountability, ultimately driving better outcomes for your business.
  • What Is Your Bid Price? To determine your bid for pay-per-call campaigns, consider your budget, the qualifying call duration, and competition fluctuations. Strive for a competitive bid that entices high-quality calls from affiliates and publishers. If necessary, adjust your bid and duration criteria until you achieve your desired conversion rates.
  • What Kinds of Calls Do You Want? In determining your campaign setup, you must consider whether to permit transfers from outbound call sources or restrict call traffic solely to inbound calls. These transfers can be categorized as warm, where a third-party call center has already qualified the caller and facilitates an introduction to your agent, or cold, where the caller is qualified but transferred without an introduction. Additionally, it's important to note that transfers can originate from inbound generation methods or outbound dials. As you begin your pay-per-call journey, it's advisable to initially limit your campaign to inbound calls until you gain a solid understanding of the compliance aspects associated with transfers.
  • How Will You Route the Calls? Many national brands employing pay-per-call campaigns often route their calls to contact centers to guarantee prompt responses. However, for some businesses, directing calls to local stores or franchises can prove more effective. It's important to recognize that not all callers share the same requirements, and that certain services may necessitate specialized sales agents. This is where Interactive Voice Response (IVR) becomes invaluable. It facilitates the seamless redirection of phone calls to the appropriate agents, thereby ensuring that your most valuable leads are managed by your most skilled team members.
  • Will You Have a Dedupe Period? Deduplication, a standard practice among service providers, prevents advertisers from incurring charges for multiple calls made by the same caller within a specified time frame. This deduplication period is commonly set at a rolling 30 days, although variations may occur based on the specific service and the advertising strategy employed to engage potential customers.

Step 4: Choose a Call Tracking Provider to Verify Lead Quality 

Selecting a reliable call tracking provider is a strategic move to ensure the quality of leads generated through your pay-per-call campaigns. Having a call tracking provider allows you to independently assess and verify the legitimacy of the leads sent by your pay-per-call vendor. This verification process safeguards you from being mistakenly charged for calls that do not meet the criteria of genuine leads. By collecting data from your call tracking provider, you can effectively dispute billing discrepancies, ultimately paving the way for fairer rates and ensuring that your pay-per-call provider consistently delivers higher-quality leads. 

Success Story: How MoneySolver Uses Invoca to Track Phone Leads from Affiliate Partnerships

MoneySolver, featured in our case study here, harnessed the power of Invoca to track phone leads originating from their marketing affiliate partnerships. This  yielded remarkable results, including an impressive 30% increase in Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) from both digital marketing efforts and their affiliate programs. 

By using Invoca's call tracking capabilities, MoneySolver gained a comprehensive understanding of the performance of their affiliate partnerships. The insights provided them with the means to attribute phone leads accurately to specific affiliate partners, thereby enabling precise measurement of each partner's contributions. They also gained the data they needed to push back when lead quality was lower than promised, so their partners could make the right adjustments to improve their efforts.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you supercharge your pay-per-call marketing strategy? Check out these resources:

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Webinar: Going beyond lead generation
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Level up your marketing game with industry experts' advice on building a revenue-focused strategy.
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