A few months ago a colleague asked my opinion of “pay per call” advertising solutions for one of his clients. I dashed off a quick email answer without researching it, to the effect of “pay per call shows promise but it is still pretty much experimental.”
Imagine my surprise when not long afterward, I got an email from the folks at Ingenio, a company that offers pay-per-call.
While pay per call advertising is still relatively new, it is not experimental. It is very real, and it is taking place now. Ingenio has been offering a solution for nearly a year now.
Pay-per-call is an advertising service that connects online searchers with your business by phone. You place an Internet ad, and Internet surfers who respond to the ad call you on the phone. You pay for the ads similarly to pay-per-click advertising, except you pay per phone call, rather than per click-through. As with any advertising, it is still up to you to convert the lead into a sale.
The image above shows a pay-per-call ad from a search I just ran a few minutes ago for “Cleveland web designer.” Similarly, I found listings for “Akron mortgage,” “Columbus home builder,” “Toledo florist,” and “Cincinnati auto repair.” You see a listing on the search page, with a telephone number underneath. When you click on the listing, rather than taking you to a website, it takes you instead to a second page with information about the business, its products and services, a telephone number, and business hours to call.
It seems like an excellent solution for small businesses, because more small businesses are prepared to deal with a phone call, than with an Internet lead.
- Consider that fewer than 50% of small businesses have websites. With pay per call, you don’t need a website, just someone manning the phone.
- Only a portion of small businesses have processes in place to effectively receive Internet leads and act on them in a timely fashion. Often it can be hard to find an email address or a contact form on a website. And when contact is finally made, sometimes it can take days for a small business to respond to emails — if they are ever answered. Yet, virtually all small businesses are set up to handle telephone inquiries promptly.
- Pay-per-call can be locally-focused, and since the majority of small business is local in nature, it means that callers are going to be highly-targeted, well-qualified leads. I note that with the Ingenio system, you can even tell it what time of day for ads to run so that you are attracting calls during regular business hours.
With the growth of local search, and the rapid pace of technology adoption that we are seeing today, new solutions like pay-per-call advertising are taking hold much faster than they would have a few years ago. Pay-per-call looks like a promising entrant on the advertising lineup.