Pay-per-call campaigns may not be sexy, but they have proven to be extremely effective for both small businesses and large multi-location organizations. Particularly in “high-value categories” like professional services, home services, travel, insurance, and automotive, phone leads can be more valuable than online clicks or impressions. As a result, call monetization platforms have grown in popularity, and mobile call volume to SMBs is expected to reach 65 billion by 2016.
The downside to this type of rapid expansion is that many SMBs are starting call monetization campaigns without completely understanding how to take advantage of the platforms they’re using. Here are six strategies that merchants should utilize to maximize the effects of their pay-per-call campaigns.
1. Pick up the phone. “In the call analytics business, we spend a lot of time talking about the value of calls — but a ringing phone isn’t valuable on its own. It’s what you do with it. This is an area of weakness for many SMBs with small teams and flexible processes. When I think about maximizing the value of your phone leads, I think about two things. One, answer the phone. And two, if you don’t answer the phone, call back quickly. The value of an inbound lead decays very rapidly, so to get the most value from your marketing, you need to be following up quickly and reliably.” (Andy Powell, CallRail)
2. Go ahead and ask for your desired outcome. “When a prospective customer calls a business, the business needs to be proactive about asking for the outcome they most want from their marketing. What does that mean? For local service-based businesses, like dentists, lawyers, roofers, auto service, etc., the most-wanted outcome is an appointment. So, businesses must be able to effectively ask the consumer to schedule an appointment. Surprisingly, many local businesses fail miserably at asking for an appointment. In the auto category, our data indicates that in 59% of the cases, the dealer or repair shop failed to ask the consumer to set up an appointment.” (Brooks McMahon, Marchex)
3. Use call data to make decisions about marketing spend. “The real key is that marketers need to start valuing phone calls. Calls are becoming more common — not less. So, you need to start optimizing your campaigns around call data. Gather call data and make decisions about marketing spend based on that data. We have a client that was spending about $24,000 of their marketing budget on a local marketing tactic that they thought was working. Then they started using call tracking from LogMyCalls and realized that the tactic simply wasn’t generating calls. The data showed them they needed to change where they put their marketing dollars. Another client started analyzing their phone calls to figure out which campaigns are producing good leads and set appointments. They’ve changed their whole revenue model based on this data.” (McKay Allen, LogMyCalls)
4. Take offline conversions into account. “In order for merchants to maximize ROI from their PPC campaigns, they have to take offline conversions into account. With the explosion of mobile search, phone calls, in particular, have been an increasingly common point of sale. Measuring call conversions along with online conversions gives paid search marketers a full picture of their customers’ behaviors and the success of their PPC campaigns. For example, low online conversion rates but high phone conversion rates could indicate that a campaign should be optimized to target mobile users. That means using bid modifiers in favor of mobile users, and making mobile conversions easier with click-to-call buttons on ads and landing pages. With online and offline insights, marketers have the data to improve budget, targeting, and landing pages for greater ROI.” (Eric Holmen, Invoca)
5. Pick a solution that can track every marketing channel. “We recommend our customers pick a solution that can accurately track and attribute all sources and marketing channels, including paid media, display, social, organic search, referral, offline, etc. It is only when you track all sources, and more importantly their impact on the overall customer journey, that you can execute strategies to improve phone calls. It is also important that your technology can track all PPC to the keyword level and critically demonstrates call attribution over time. This will ensure you can understand the full customer journey. Customers are able to leverage this data to optimize keywords and ads by shifting spending to those keywords and ads that are most successful in driving calls, while reducing spend away from keywords and ads that are not successful.” (Bhavesh Vaghela, ResponseTap)
6. Implement call extensions and mobile click-to-calls. “Information on caller location can be very valuable for location-based bidding and call extensions. Marketers can choose to bid higher on clicks from specific regions based on the quality of calls received. Marketers can then use call duration and call recording technology to assess the quality of calls from specific locations. For example, set higher bids for locations that drive calls that last longer or calls that lead directly to in-store visits or over the phone sales.” (Steve Griffiths, Ifbyphone)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.