LeadsCouncil Live: A Deep Dive into “Call Leads”

By Michael FerreeNovember 19, 2014

Call Leads have been a hot topic in 2014, so on this edition of LeadsCouncil Live we wanted to get to the bottom of the trend and determine if it was all hype or if there was something more sustainable behind all the talk. We took 45 minutes and discussed the topic with two industry epercts, JT Benton of LeadQual and Ryan Stomel of eStomes and Call Criteria.

Have a listen:

 

 

Michael Ferree:        Welcome everyone to today's Lead Council live call. We're all really excited that you have set some time out of your day today to join us on today's discussion. I want to go over a few items before we get started, and before I introduce our guests today. This an interactive call, it's a live call, we're really excited to do it live so we can have some interaction with you guys that are on the call. To be able to interact and ask questions, it's a pretty simple process all you need to do, hopefully you have your go-to-webinar control panel open on your desktop.

                                    You're going to have to use that. There's a questions box on that panel, and all you have to do is type in the questions right there. I will see them, I will filter them through the conversation and ask our guests once they pop up. I really want to encourage you please do ask questions, that's how we get a lot of great information from the questions that you folks ask. So please do.

                                    Let me introduce you guys to two of our guests. As you know we're going to be talking about call leads. We have two experts on the call, we've got Ryan Stomel of Eastomes Call Criteria, Ryan is the founder of both of those companies and I'm going to give him a chance to talk about it in just a second. We also have JT Benton, Senior Vice President of Sales and Corporate Marketing at Lead Qual with us as well. He's been in the industry for quite a while. Specifically dealing with call leads and mobile marketing.

                                    Welcome both of you to the call. Ryan give me, before we get started in the questioning, give me just a little run-down about your experience in the industry and with call leads and we can go from there.

Ryan Stomel:             Yeah. Absolutely. A few years ago we started Eastomes and we noticed that there was a gap in the marketplace before call centers really existed and before pay-per-call ever came to fruition is that companies we're buying leads and we were generating those leads for those companies but they were paying a significant amount, but only contacting a certain percentage of those leads.

                                    We found that if we were able to provide a service that we were reaching out to those leads for them, on behalf of our call center reps, then they would pay a premium bounty for the live transfer, or hot transfer. A few years ago we started that with refinance, then moved into education. That's now where we're at, we are a full service start to finish, we generate the leads, generate the calls, process the data and then fully submit the full form lead as well.

                                    Then on Call Criteria, it's a spin-off of what we were doing at Eastomes, we noticed that it's more of a call conversion and analytics, testing out and seeing how well our reps are responding and how they're performing on a daily basis. It's just a call control and call quality monitoring service that we provide to a number of different call centers.

Michael Ferree:        Great. With that, since you guys handle the whole process, you guys have a lot of insight into that process and what makes a good call. I'm really interested in learning more about that in just a few minutes. Before we get into that questioning, JT Benton, that you for joining us today on the call as well. Tell me a little bit about yourself and Lead Qual then we can jump into these questions.

JT Benton:                  Yeah. Absolutely. Thank you, I really appreciate being here. We appreciate the leads Council and of course the Leads Com community. I think the best way to describe Lead Qual is to say it doesn't do what it sounds like it does. Which is an interesting way to start a description of a company, I'll admit that. We're not a lead generator, we sit on the side and we watch that happen.

                                    We manage that for a lot of our clients. We're a full service performance marketing agency. We've got stops along the consumer journey toward buying something. All the way from the impressions, down to the sale. What that means is we've got a full service media team. We buy display advertising and search marketing. We do SEO work and even a little bit of creative services stuff.

                                    We also act as a performance marketing agency. We'll manage lead generators, or affiliates on behalf of our clients. Then our perspective is that performance marketing isn't just digital. You'll notice I didn't describe us as digital marketing agency. We've got a digital services group. We think people play a very, very important role. Down the funnel we've got a full service completely on shore, owned and operated contact center business. That business does both outbound dialing, traditional qualify and transfer services, but also inbound answering, and other things that you wouldn't necessarily think a call center would do.

                                    Things like chat management and even value added selling. Where we'll take an inbound call on behalf of one of our clients then sell the product on their behalf. What's to look at this discussion we see inbound calls from consumers looking to buy something at every single stop in the journey. We feel like we've got a unique perspective because of that holistic view.

Michael Ferree:        Great. This last Leads Con New York, was it New York? It was New York. I had the opportunity to do a number of interviews with, gosh, maybe a little more than a dozen companies. The Leads Con Live is what we called it. After interview, after interview, and even if you looked at the agenda, there was a number of items revolving around call leads.

                                    There's this voice, this trend of voice coming from this channel that's growing and growing. At least in Leads Con ecosystem for whatever reasons. I think even when I speak to advertisers, it's definitely something on the top of mind for them. Call leads haven't been-, they're not new, this is not a new concept I don't think. Ryan what do you think the trend is and why there's this increasing voice for this channel occurring right now?

Ryan Stomel:             That's a great question. I think that's due to the evolving door of affiliate marketing. I think people and companies are now starting to get away from just the standard straight up lead, and different types of leads, and are now finding out that the calls actually work significantly better. There's a number of different types of calls, like you mentioned, there's warm transfer, there's pay-per-call based on duration. There's click to call, there's a lot of different variations.

                                    I think that now … Before there used to only be two to three different pay-per-call offers, from the last couple years only two to three, and student loan was always the biggest pay-per-call offer. Now you see a lot more advertisers jumping onboard and they're really changing the marketplace. I think you're going to see a lot more pay-per-call coming to fruition rather than just the standard, just the CPO legion.

Michael Ferree:        I want to … You just opened Pandora's Box, because I want to really talk about pay-per-call a little bit in just a minute. JT I want to get your opinion as well, on that same topic. You've been around, you've been in the mobile space for a while, from the call transfer side of the business as well. Like I said, it's not necessarily anything particularly new, but there is a greater voice, so what's going on?

JT Benton:                  I think it's all about efficiency. Performance marketers are really, really and rightly so, they've got to be obsessive over the actual outcome from the dollars that they spend in advertising. We don't have the luxury in our segment of the ecosystem to do what brand marketers do. Which is spray and pray, boomerang advertising, you throw it out a hundred times and maybe two or three times it comes back to you.

                                    Folks in our space need to constantly monitor the efficiency and the expediency of their marketing efforts. One thing that they, quote/unquote, "call lead" and I do think we need to define that in a moment, I know that we will. One thing that a call lead does, when the phone rings inbound, it does guarantee contact right with the consumer.

                                    If you're out there buying leads from a lead generator or a lead aggregator, the very act of contacting them is not a foregone conclusion. Whereas with an inbound call you're at least guaranteed that you're going to get on the phone with somebody, or very likely to. That contract rate piece is huge, and because that conversation happens in real time it's coming in. I think that the conversion tracking cycle is more closed loop.

                                    I think it's a little bit more expedient. That's exciting. I guess the final piece on why it's exciting to people, is that it's not that new, but it is kind of new. There's a long list of aggregators, and the people that represent them. I joke that the names don't change but the logos on the business card do. There has not been a lot of new, actual media opportunities to arise in the space in a while. This is growing just because it's younger. I think there's also a defensive component as well. Those are the reasons why it's awesome.

                                    I think one of the reasons that folks engage with this is lead fraud has become a bigger and bigger issue, with data leads. I think some advertisers, I'm not sure if this is right or wrong, but I think some advertisers view inbound calls as safer because the contact rate is in fact guaranteed. I think there's a defense component as well.

Michael Ferree:        You mentioned defining call leads, we have a good friend, Shawn Finland, who years ago told me, "We need to define what a lead is." It seems very simple for us in the industry to go, "Okay, well a lead is a set of data that gets sent, transm-" Well, is a lead a click? Is a lead a hot transfer? Just real quick we're all talking about call leads, what exactly is a call lead? JT?

JT Benton:                  Yeah. Sure. I wasn't sure who you wanted to go to. I'm glad you mentioned Shawn, he's certainly one of my favorite people in this space that I care about a lot. I think a call lead, well first of all, marketing definitions tend to start where the money begins. Tongue in cheek, a call lead is whatever your advertiser says it is. A conversion is whatever the budget defines it to be. In my opinion, just my opinion, a call lead is a lead that manifests itself as a consumer picking up the phone and dialing the advertiser.

                                    They can be connected through any different type of mechanism. It could be an IVR, it could be a straight in call. It could be a consumer going to Acme Products home page and seeing an 800 number on their homepage and calling them. Or it could be a display ad that had an embedded HTML script that allowed the consumer to call in from the device. In any event, I think we should define it as a consumer expressing interest inbound by picking up the phone and calling an advertiser.

Michael Ferree:        Got it. Now Ryan, you mentioned a couple different things. You mentioned click-to-call, you mentioned, I just want to set the table for some of this stuff, then we're going to really get into the weeds, you mentioned click-to-call, mobile, all these different things. What are the different ways call leads are being paid for? Is it based on a transfer? What are the typical ways you're seeing …

Ryan Stomel:             That's a good point. There's a few different ways that we actually, typically pay for the pay-per-calls with our publishers, and us specifically when we generate them ourselves. For the publishers the most typical method is just pay on a duration of a call. With that you really got to make sure, there are a lot of caveats with that, because you have to make sure the agents that you have answering those calls are extremely efficient in qualifying those calls.

                                    It really is a win-win for everything. When we generate these calls ourselves and put it on Google Ad Words, obviously Google loves it, and we love the quality because it's actually a live person on the phone rather than someone that we have a fifty percent chance of actually getting in contact with. Although it costs at least three times more, than just a regular click, it converts significantly better. It's really a win-win for the publishers and advertisers.

                                    I'm probably getting a little off topic here, but the fact of the matter is that the calls … When we pay our publishers it's typically on a duration. Whether it's sixty seconds or ninety seconds those are pretty typical. The agent on the other line has that much time to see if that's actually a qualified call. As soon as that passes that duration, it immediately becomes billable regardless of whether the conversion happened or not. You can go … On the other side of the thing is that if you have a really close relationship with the publishers, which we often do, is that we provide a straight up rev share.

                                    It actually seems to work a little better than just having a duration. The agents don't have to worry about qualifying a call immediately and they have some more time to actually try to find an appropriate transaction. The rev share actually seems to work really, really well. On the hot transfer side, we see that a lot with partners that actually have call centers themselves and they want to see the pay-per-call model, but they don't-, they necessarily don't think the ninety second, or the sixty second duration really works for them.

                                    The hot transfer, the model actually works really well on the rev share and also just straight up per transfer if you really trust the publisher. It happens to be the oldest mechanism of pay-per-call, I believe that. Hot transfer's been around for years and years, that's how we officially got started in the industry was by hot transferring. It's an easy way to enter a market if you have a call center. Otherwise in terms of publishing, pay-per-call is really the best way to go. There's a bunch of different ways to generate those.

Michael Ferree:        Ryan, my hypothesis was that with the advent-, or really with the emergence of mobile marketing, really gave call leads a resurgence to some respect. How do you see mobile trends and the parallel with call leads?

Ryan Stomel:             Absolutely. I think mobile essentially revitalized the industry. That and Facebook, before those were never around and everyone was just trying to figure out Google. With mobile and with Facebook especially, the click-to-call space has gone significantly craz- … This generates significantly more revenue than ever before.

                                    That and including with the more offers, and advertisers that want these calls and that's where the market is heading. I think the click-to-call space on just Ad Words, and the ability for Google to now allow that functionality, and then actually encourage it, that will increase your score. It's the wave of the future and I think it's where this industry is actually heading, the click-to-call space. Mobile is really the advent of it all.

Michael Ferree:        Yep. What do you see JT on that side? You've been deep in the mobile space for some time, how is it affecting … How do you see it affecting call leads?

JT Benton:                  This is a big question. My opinion is a very big one. It is that-, or it is a very broad one. I think mobile, the emergence of mobile technology, mostly that's phones, but also includes tablets and now even beginning to include technology that's inside of automobiles, and on your watch, and in your television. I think that these emergence's have revised our definition of the Internet.

                                    I think the conversation is way beyond pay-per-call advertising. In terms of how it has affected performance marketing, it's given room for growth again. I think that if you look at, if you take a snapshot of what's been happening in quote/unquote, "lead gen" and you filter out any mobile evolution you basically have folks competing more and more and more over the cost of media, and introducing cheaper and cheaper forms of media.

                                    Things like Core Edge and List Buying and that sort of thing into the mix to somehow try to make a margin. Obviously as money gets tighter and margins get tighter the folks who sell leads are looking for more ways to being revenue in. There's been a real challenge there. I think the emergence of new media, and the fact that smart phones outsell PCs now by just great factors, means that browsers are available in new and disruptive format.

                                    That's great news for performance marketers. Whether they're trying to generate a lead or a phone call. One of the things I'm very grateful for is that in our business we're indifferent to the conversion factor. We're just thrilled that mobile is emerging the way that it is. We'll help folks with calls, we'll help folks with any type of mobile advertising. I think it's completely revised our definition of the Internet.

Michael Ferree:        I want to dig into a couple things. The channel is expanding, and any time you see a channel expanding, it really opens up the door to a lot of quality issues as well, and fraudulent issues. We see it from vertical to vertical, but we also see it from channel to channel.

                                    When you have more offers out there on the networks, like you mentioned Ryan, these affiliates have more opportunity to possibly make money, so they're going to figure out ways to circumvent the situation a little bit. Ryan, what do advertisers need to be concerned with out there in the marketplace when it comes to fraudulent activity?

Ryan Stomel:             Fraud is going to exist no matter what kind of lead it is. There's always going to be significant amounts of it. It's the job of the advertiser to really filter through it. Some of the things that we've seen, we've seen a lot of, not necessarily the same verticals that we operate in, but we've seen some pretty shady things going on. For example, people calling because they think … Specifically in our industry, in an education vertical, we see people calling because they think they're going for a job interview. They say, "Hey, call this number and let's schedule you to finalize your resume, and look for jobs together."

                                    Then when they call that number, it's actually, the opening is definitely something that's job related but in the end they get tricked almost to being sent to education and different schools. It's prominent in the travel industry as well. The specific types of fraud I see, it's not necessarily fraud, I would say, but it's more like not ethical advertising methods. As an advertiser you have to be okay with what you want to accept and what you don't want to accept.

                                    I see that, especially in the education industry, which we are pretty prominent in. We see that a lot across the board with some of these different aggregators that are out there and some different vendors that they really think that this is the next way to go and the way to generate these cheap calls is to potentially pose as a job board, or a potential company looking to hire people and then generate a lead from that.

                                    In the end they're just-, any kind of business is doing that, there trying to lower their lead cost and produce a lead, but when all is said and done I think these are going to convert lower and actually schools are starting to catch on to this a little bit.

Michael Ferree:        That misleading, funnel I guess you'd say, where you're getting people in and you're telling the prospect about a job, or whatever it is, and they're actually being called on some completely different product or service has been going on forever.

                                    Even more so, over the last few years, even more than that, people are actually pretending to be that person on the phone and actually looking for that product. If it's education they'll have somebody pick up the phone, go down the process and actually pretend they're going to enroll in a school for a couple-, then fall off the map. What-

Ryan Stomel:             A hundred percent.

Michael Ferree:        What are advertisers supposed to do? From a data standpoint you can apply some technology to your landing page, and look for bot traffic, and all that sort of stuff, but on a call that you think it's a real person. You guys have … Either of you? Ryan if you want to tackle it first, any suggestions on what advertisers could be doing to better protect themselves from these types of risks?

Ryan Stomel:             The best way to go about it is really to trust your publishers. Don't get too out there with too many publishers that you really don't trust. There's always a certain group of people that will do whatever they can. Even people that you do actually trust think that they're completely transparent and open and honest, but there are some ways of blending some traffic in that you may not be wanting.

                                    I've seen, for example, actually a really good example that came to mind is that tech support calls, tech support right now is big. It's one of the bigger offers out there in the industry, and I know there's a ton of pubs currently generating these calls via ad-ware. That, as an advertiser, I personally wouldn't feel comfortable if I was generating leads for a tech support, or if I was generating leads for some sort of software, I wouldn't want ad-ware, any kind of ad-ware leads.

                                    That also seems to be a new niche that people are representing is that ad-ware calls, and ad-ware that is on people's PCs and buying Chrome extensions to display ads. It's very black hat, but it seems to be prominent. In terms of filtering out some of these leads of people that you may have talked to before? It's tough, it's something we struggle with. We only work with select few publishers that we really trust.

                                    We have a long standing relationship with them. We don't necessarily think that's the case, but of course we have call criteria which is listening, and listening to every single recording that we ever generate. At times we've seen that certain people may call in at the same time, or we know if there's a lot of duplicates that exist, or potentially we could … If the same person does call in, or the same lead is generated over and over again, Call Criteria should be able to catch that.

Michael Ferree:        It's almost like it needs to be a voice recognition thing. I just had lunch with a person the other day that's in the same-, that does call leads, and they talked about an experience where they … They record all their calls, literally had the same guy call, it was the same voice on multiple different leads that came within a few days. They could tell it was the same exact person.

                                    I don't know if I … It's more of just, it's out there, and it seems like if there's some way to fight it, it would be something like that. JT, from the mobile side, if you're running mobile campaigns out there, and you're looking at click-to-call are there ways to mitigate risk when it comes to fraudulent activity via that sort of channel?

JT Benton:                  Yeah. I want to go back. I'll answer this question, but I want to respond to some of the things that I've heard so far. Just characterize something. I think people need to do a better job, across this industry, and probably every other one, and to really think about what they're buying when they contract to someone.

                                    When we agree to buy media on a rev share, and we agree to let our partner procure that media on a rev share we introduce a fundamental misalignment of interests. The reason that advertisers do it … By the way I want to be very transparent, I've done lots of this. In my career I've been a part of some really great lead generation efforts and I'm really proud of them, but did we see fraud? Yeah, sure. I think that this happens.

                                    When an advertiser says, "I want to buy leads, I understand that somewhere, someone's going to have to buy clicks, I don't want that to be my problem. I want to buy leads that convert to customers at x." They're mitigating the risk by shifting it to the next party. When that next party decides, "I'm going to go to an affiliate. I'm going to mitigate the risk, take a margin, and shift that to that party." Then that affiliate then might even say, "Okay, well, I'm going to just kick it right down the road. I'm going to mitigate that risk and take it down to the next party."

                                    At some point in time the actual payout for the hand raise, drops below the threshold for legitimacy. You understand what I'm saying? Right?

Michael Ferree:        Yep.

JT Benton:                  If we push the payout down, and we continuously take margin at each stop in the road, at some point economically it becomes in-feasible to buy access to a legitimately interested consumer without doing something shady.

Michael Ferree:        You just described the lead generation vertical perfectly. Regardless of channel. Right?

JT Benton:                  Yeah.

Michael Ferree:        We're talking about leads and-

JT Benton:                  It is … That's right. It's a big picture thing with that. Let's just have an honest conversation with ourselves. If we're lead buyers, we buy leads, and we are shifting the performance risk, or the conversion risk to somebody who's going to have an arbitrage then I think we give up some liberties. If you're uncomfortable giving up those liberties then maybe the discussion ought not be, "What can you do to prevent it." I think your legal agreements can help you with that, and I think there's technology that can help you with that.

                                    Maybe the answer is to get closer to the source of the media, and take more principal risk. One of the things that I have not seen, there does not seem to be a lot of in our ecosystem are advertisers who are taking principal risk on search media with vendors in our ecosystem.

                                    I feel fortunate, that's what we do, we're a business that helps our clients, more transparently, buy media closer or at its point of impression, so that they can avoid some of these issues. I think any time you incentivize someone to generate an action, but you don't compensate them for the actual media cost, you compensate them with the cost per action, you're introducing an opportunity for them to do something dishonest. That's the ecosystem. I've been in it for a long time and I'm proud of the work that I've done here, but we all see this and it is part of the price of admission.

Michael Ferree:        Yeah. You're absolutely right. There is that problem. That's why we see a lot of advertisers trying to … One of their main goals is always to take their media buying and their lead generation efforts in house.

JT Benton:                  Or to work with an agency. To work with a group … It doesn't have to be in house, it can be just more transparent.

Michael Ferree:        Yeah. Yeah, right. Exactly. Exactly. It could be with an agency and that certainly could or could not be a slippery slope, it just depends on exactly what we're talking about. Generally speaking taking it and having more transparency in the process is the ultimate goal. That leads me to, sort of tie this back in to call leads, and really in how to manage inbound call leads from a functional standpoint.

                                    Certainly you guys provide services for companies to be able to utilize, manage that process of taking that inbound call. Generally speaking, what are the … Outside of that option, for just a moment, what do advertisers that typically would be doing outbound sales calls need to take into consideration when thinking of doing call leads and taking in click-to-calls, and all these types of inbound phone calls.

JT Benton:                  I'll take first stab at it, I think they need to be prepared to answer the phone. That seems simple, but it's not often. Shops that are built around outbound dialing have scripts that are built around an outbound dial. I think you need to have personnel who are available to take their call so that the consumer is not put on hold.

                                    I think those people need to be ready to be a little more consultative and good listening skills are really important. It's not reading a script per say, it's asking questions then taking that consumer's interest and funneling it the appropriate way. What I would say is, "If you want your phone to ring, be prepared to answer it, and to do so in an engaged way with the consumer."

Michael Ferree:        Ryan, I don't know necessarily what type of marketing you guys are doing to generate the call data, or the inbound calls, or what exactly you're doing that you can share, whatever you're comfortable with sharing. How do you guys manage the inbound call process? What exactly, maybe is it a little bit different from an inbound versus outbound sales team, or call center group?

Ryan Stomel:             Yeah. JT hit it right on the nose there in terms of answering our own inbound calls. You really have to manage that really tightly. If you have a sixty second, if you're paying publishers on sixty seconds, and your agents can't identify if that's going to be a conversion or not within that sixty seconds, and they go outside that sixty seconds and it's not a conversion, you're paying for that no matter what.

                                    You really have to manage the inbound scripting really closely. We do a lot of pay-per-calling, we do a lot of inbound calls, and specifically when it comes to that like JT said, we listen to every single call that's on the inbound side, and make sure our agents are handling it right. That's, of course, with Call Criteria that's the whole purpose of it is that we can really give good feedback to the agents. If they're not really qualifying the call and in time then we can make sure to notate that and give them accurate feedback on what they could change, or what the problem is.

                                    In terms of if we're generating pay-per-calls, because we do some mobile marketing, we do some pay-per-call through some other verticals where we're just not the call center for, we're just literally the affiliated publisher. There's a couple different technologies that exist that are really, really good for managing those. One of them is Call Pixels, which I'm sure most people are aware of. A little pricey but they have some functionality that exists that makes things just a lot easier. It's a really big luxury to have with all the features that they have.

                                    There's also, a good friend of mine Guy Gotlieb, who is working with Log My Calls, they are another company that does performance-, does conversion analytics on the advertisers side of the call. You got to use one or the other, we're typically going more toward Call Pixels because of their functionality and specs, but realistically there's those two are big in the industry of logging calls and inbound calls.

                                    On our call center side, what we use to … If you have the capacity in the call center, we're using Five9 as the dialer, but there's plenty of others out there that exist, Call Fire being one of them. There's a dozen different call centers. A dozen different cloud based call centers that exist. We've got some built in functionality that within Five9 that can give us some really detailed and accurate reporting on our affiliates.

                                    We give very transparent reports back to the affiliates that tells them what the billables are. Even down to the conversion rate. As transparent as we are we want … Our publishers know that the only way that they're going to succeed is if we succeed. We're very transparent with the data we hand back to them.

Michael Ferree:        Can you tell me a little bit more about what exactly, and how exactly Call Pixels, or Log My Calls, fits into the process. Just to provide a little bit more clarity? I understand that you guys, from what you're saying, you guys work with a number of different partners where you're paying them out on a performance basis to drive calls. You're also running your own click-to-call and different campaigns as well. Tell me a little bit more, because I don't fully understand how that Call Pixel …

Ryan Stomel:             Yeah. If we're generating through some of our affiliates, especially with Call Pixels, I'll speak to Call Pixels because we've definitely used them before, their pricing is very interesting and I really like their model in terms of if we're just doing some low volume stuff I would definitely use Call Pixels.

                                    The features that they provide are really helpful to an affiliate or a publisher. They can, if you have multiple advertisers that are buying the same type of traffic you can route those calls, route those inbound calls to those different advertisers based on time of day. It's just very easy to set up.

                                    Then in terms of different versions of landing pages, you can have different phones numbers put on different landing pages then all of them are tracked independently. Those are the two features we use most, just their analytics. We're a analytics and data driven company. We want to know what happens on each call and we want to know that we can track it down to the very smallest metric that we use.

Michael Ferree:        Absolutely. In whether or not you're doing it via an affiliate channel or you're running your own campaigns, that's going to be key to being successful with this channel.

JT Benton:                  Mike, I would love to just jump in quickly on that topic, if we have a second, is that okay?

Michael Ferree:        Absolutely.

JT Benton:                  I would say that, first off everything makes great sense so far. I don't know how you can have a conversation about call leads, inbound calls, or inbound call advertising without talking about Invoca. They're just an incredible group they've really, really focused on raising capital to solve these challenges. Their team is fantastic. I'll give a shameless plug, I think they're great people and I think that they also belong in the discussion.

Michael Ferree:        Yep. Definitely. I want to also dig in to a couple of different things here before we start to wrap up a little bit. One of the biggest challenges with call leads and specifically around click-to-call, not necessarily hot transfers from a third party, but is the interest level. What kind of interest level should advertisers really expect? How does that affect how they manage the calls and follow-ups? JT do you want to try that, attempt, yeah …

JT Benton:                  I think they should expect a varying and broad level of interest. If they don't use technologies like the ones that we've mentioned previously, they can expect accidental dials, or pocket dials, if they're placing phone numbers on mobile landing pages. I think that can happen. I think they will also get some of the best, most distilled, sales inquiries that they've ever had by advertising on a mobile web.

                                    I would say be prepared for the gambit, and then there are tools available to them. We talked about Invoca, I'm sure Call Pixels offers something similar, using an IVR to limit some of the disruptions. If you find that you're getting a lot Customer Service calls on your campaigns, filtering those into one direction so that you're sales team isn't fielding those will certainly help.

                                    I would expect a pretty broad range, just like you should expect from your Google clicks. I think you're going to get qualified customers, not qualified customers. Competitors who are scoping out your website and Customer Service inquiries. Then you're also going to get some of the best most lucrative persistent customers you've ever had. Our job as marketers is to properly segment and to field those inquiries the best way.

Michael Ferree:        Ryan, we have an on-line listener that mentioned, made a really good point, which is, "You get what you pay for." JT just brought up the example on clicks on paid search campaigns. When I think of lead generation from a broad perspective I think of different channels like paid search, like display, like email, all these different channels. I immediately, based on my experience, associate a certain level of quality to those channels as well.

                                    Paid search typically will have pretty high quality, but it's also a more expensive channel. When we focus it all the way down to calls I am curious to know, and if you're willing to share, are there certain sub-channels like click-to-call via search that just seems to provide the best, more interested, calls than something else would?

Ryan Stomel:             Yeah, no. That's a great question. That's something I actually wanted to talk about as well. A click, for Google … Here's an example of a specific campaign that we're doing: we're doing some small business loans lead generation. A click on that kind of campaign would cost around two dollars with the same quality score that we have, but a call would cost around six. The difference is the advertiser loves the calls because they convert at such a significant level.

                                    They just work better and they take less time for the agent to keep following up on the pricing for … That's pretty much the standard pricing. About a three hundred percent mark-up on Google. One thing that we've actually been really successful … I'm pretty sure it's starting to generate some more interest, is that we've talked a lot about mobile, and we've talked a lot about Google and doing click-to-call, but one thing we haven't touched on yet, and I think it's becoming bigger in the industry, and something that we have been doing for quite some time is emails.

                                    A lot of people typically think an email is sent and there's just a landing page, and there's just a call of action to submit info. We've now seen that we can get around spam filters, and actually have an increased open rate and a better conversion by just not having a link in there at all and just having a phone number to call. That's really a unique way to generate some inbound calls and it's actually proving to be worthwhile.

                                    Not only is the lead opening that email, but they're also taking the call to action right from the email. It's almost like a double [opt-in 00:42:15] lead, and a double verified lead that they are actually interested. If you have that capacity, if publishers have that capacity to start testing with the email click-to-call I think that's definitely going to be beneficial.

Michael Ferree:        That's really interesting, I makes me nervous just thinking about taking off a link to a landing page. You know?

JT Benton:                  Yeah.

Michael Ferree:        Go ahead.

Ryan Stomel:             No, I just completely agree. I think that as we see this market mature a little more, and as we see email becoming less and less-, or more and more difficult I think that there's really going to be some ways around it. I think doing inbound calls is the way to go.

Michael Ferree:        Yeah. Just a little more clarification on defining what we're talking about. One of our listeners wants to just clarify whether or not, is a pay-per-call the same as a click-to-call? Are there differences there between those two terms and how they're used JT?

JT Benton:                  Yeah. I think there are. I think pay-per-call should be synonymous with pay-per-lead.

Michael Ferree:        Got it.

JT Benton:                  That phrase defines itself. pay-per-call means that you are paying for calls, which is a cost per action, engagement with a vendor. I think click-to-call is one of the ways that can happen. Click-to-call is typically a phone number embedded, intended for a mobile user to tap on, and activate their handset to call.

                                    You're going to see that in a few places, you're going to see it in display advertising, you're going to see it in search advertising, and then you're going to see it embedded in content. Perhaps you're on a blog, espousing the virtues of the advertiser you're looking at, and they say, you should call these guys, here's their number. You could tap on that with your thumb, or your index finger, and activate your handset to call them.

                                    That's quote/unquote, "click-to-call". How you pay for that is up to you. You could pay for that on a pay-per-call basis. Or you could go to Google, or have your agency go to Google, we do this for our clients, and we will build mobile search ads that have the phone number embedded and then will track that experience all the way through. Click-to-call is the consumer taking the action, pay-per-call is one of the pricing mechanisms to which you would pay for it.

Michael Ferree:        Got it. A lot of times that's revolved around a certain time frame or duration of a call too, right? Like Ryan was talking about, sixty seconds call you pay out that sort of thing.

JT Benton:                  Right. No. Absolutely. I think that is a conversion definition. What would be considered a payable action? An advertiser, and either the network or the publisher that they're working with come to some sort of entrepreneurial agreement that says, "Hey, let's define the action of somebody who had pressed seven, and gone past a duration of one hundred and eighty seconds."

                                    Just as an example. That's a performance marketing pricing engagement. That's defining the action, and so the deliverable, and that's how that works. I think click-to-call or tap-to-dial is the actual consumer-, the action that the consumer takes.

Michael Ferree:        Got it. We're going to wrap it up here, I want to thank you guys, thank you both for joining this call today. We could probably talk about this for another forty-five minutes. Before we jump off this call, I want to hear both … Obviously they're definitely biased, because you're both heavily weighted in this space, but what do you see foresee in 2015 when it comes to call leads?

                                    Anything in the future? Anything around quality, or increased fraud, whatever it is. What do you see happening in 2015 with call leads JT? Then once JT's done, Ryan I'd love to hear what your thoughts are too.

JT Benton:                  Awesome question. I am biased, so I'll just admit it going into my answer. I believe 2015 is going to look like this: the first is that you're going to see this stuff mature a bit. It's been happening and it's been disruptive. You're going to start to see data businesses, and it's already starting to happen, who come in and rather than wearing a player's jersey, wear a referee's jersey. They're going to start to quantify and comment on the quality of inbound calls.

                                    Businesses like Lead Idea, and Active Prospect, and others that we have come to know in our ecosystem those types of businesses, maybe even the same ones, are going to start weighing in on, "What's a good call? What's a bad call?" That will be a little bit disruptive, you'll start to see some data plays.

                                    Then I think you're going to start to see the emergence, I tongue in cheek hope to be one of the primary parties involved. I think you're going to start to see the emergence of a seasoned, experienced partner to help advertisers do right and avoid doing wrong in this space in an agency or master services component. I think it's time for that to start happening as well.

Michael Ferree:        Perfect. Ryan what are your thoughts?

Ryan Stomel:             I agree with JT, I think just to expand on some of that. Like I said earlier, I think we're going to-, some of these affiliate networks and affiliate models that are out there are going to slowly start moving over to more and more pay-per-call, as advertisers start to see the benefit of it and how it's mutually beneficial for the publisher and the advertiser alone. I think that everyone is going to start filtering over to pay-per-call and figuring out how to do it.

                                    I think Facebook will, soon enough hopefully, I don't know if they do now, but I think they will, once they enter the space, it's going to be even bigger. I think that's going to be another game changer. Somewhat how they were when they first entered the space a couple years ago. I think you're still going to have the definite issues of fraud. One thing I forgot to mention but is definitely still happening, ongoing I'm sure, everyone has experienced this. Is the SMS.

                                    There was a time, well actually there is currently pending litigation against a couple companies that were sued for this, but it is still going on, it is still very prominent where you are getting a text message about anything under the world. Solar, or anything, any kind of vertical that exists, and you'll get a text message from some five number … Someone that's like five numbers, like 20946, and you have no way to track it down, you have nothing to [inaudible 00:49:18] and they tell you to call in to this number.

                                    While you could potentially call in and yell at the advertiser for texting you, and you're going to file a lawsuit, the fact is that these advertisers that exist in these companies that allow this type of promotion are not keeping a good enough eye on their publishers, or they're not-, they just don't care about the type of quality that they are receiving. They're okay taking the risk of potential litigation.

                                    I think you're going to have that increase in fraud, and I think that still will exist, but I really think pay-per-call, the industry is going to be much larger in 2015 than it is now.

Michael Ferree:        Yep. Good stuff. I appreciate you guys being on the call today. Folks if you, those of you on the call, or will be listening to the call later, if you want to reach out to Ryan or JT, you can reach out to Ryan at ryan@estomes.com, that's R-Y-A-N at E-S-T-O-M-E-S dot com. You can reach out to JT at Jt@leadqual.com that's Lead Qual, L-E-A-D-Q-U-A-L dot com.

                                    Both would be more than happy to continue the conversation with you I'm sure. Thank you guys for joining, JT and Ryan, I really appreciate your guy's insight. I appreciate everybody that's been listening on the call. Look out for our next Leads Council Live when we tackle another topic on Ad technology and we'll see you all soon. Thanks Ryan, and JT.

JT Benton:                  Thank you.

Ryan Stomel:             Thank you guys.

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