More For Your Money — Pay-Per-Call: A Smarter Way To Advertise

Pay-per-call is one of the biggest trends in online marketing right now. In fact, pay-per-performance advertising, overall, is gaining ground as more and more businesses discover the high ROI it provides. Different search engines are incorporating this marketing model, including AOL search, InfoSpace, and Marchex, who have a combined total of 1.3 billion searches a month. A Quick Overview The concept of pay-per-call is simple: • It’s an auction for customer calls — you bid what you’re willing to pay for each call, and your ad appears in the search engine results. The more you bid per call, the higher your ad is ranked. You can see what similar businesses in your service area are bidding, which allows you to rationally price your services. • Your ad gives information about your business and a unique phone number to contact you. Users can click on your text and read about your business at no cost to you. You pay if, and only if, they like what they see and actually call — which means you’re only paying for customers who are truly interested in your services. • You can set your geographical service area to fit your business’ needs — anywhere from a zip code to the whole country. Your ad won’t come up in a search ‘til the user indicates where they’re looking, so you never waste money on out-of-area calls. Whenever You Call Me… This kind of marketing requires that your businesses be able to take calls. You’ll most likely get only a handful of calls each day, which is manageable for most businesses. But if your business is 100% web-based, and you want all your business to happen online, then it may not be a good advertising model for you. Many companies use this marketing strategy, but certain businesses especially lend themselves to it — businesses where customers are likely to have questions or want clarification. If your business provides financial services, consulting, home improvements or repairs, or travel services, pay-per-call may be ideal for you. Calls vs. Clicks Though similar in concept, buying calls to your business tends to yield better results than buying clicks to your web site, for several reasons: • Customers are further along in the buying process. According to Mark Barach, CMO of, a company specializing in pay-per-call advertising, “The difference is when people are reading your web site, they’re at the stage of gathering information. When they call your business, they’re ready to transact.” • They produce higher close rates. An average of 30% of these purchased calls result in business, as opposed to 1-2% of clicks to web sites. • They eliminate fraud. Advertisers are only billed for a customer’s initial call, so there’s no incentive to call repeatedly to deplete a competitor’s budget. Even hang-up calls aren’t a problem because calls must reach a certain length for you to be billed. Says Barach, “The value proposition to an advertiser is unparalleled — you pay when you get the customer. In any other form of advertising, you pay in advance and just hope it works.”