Pay Per Call is a relatively new concept in comparison to traditional affiliate marketing. However across the pond in the US, networks are cleaning up! Over the past 3 months, I have turned my hand to exploring the world of Pay Per Call and the rewards it can offer.
Following a relatively comprehensive online training course, I set about teaching myself the basics of Google adwords. The channel of choice for most Pay Per Call affiliates.
Although it’s a complicated beast, understanding enough to get campaigns live and delivering conversions is quite simple. Seeing ROI however is where the skill comes in and that’s where the practice pays off.
Like anything, getting more efficient and buying profitable media comes down to practice and learning. Understanding what went wrong and just as importantly, what went right! The first thing to remember is that you will lose money, potentially more than you are willing to write off but it’s all part of the journey. Think of it as paying for your training course. This training however is on the job and if you are lucky, you may get some of the course fee’s back.
Why Not The UK?
Ok, so let’s park that for a moment and look at why Pay Per Call is so big in the states and pretty much non-existent in the UK. Truth is, I really don’t know. I mean it’s not like people in the UK don’t run call centre’s right? We have just as much need to drive calls as the Yanks, yet all the networks in the space are littered with US offers.
Have we not developed the trust as consumers? Are we as a nation stuck in a world of form filling and caution? Are we not using our mobile devices to search for things on the go?
Personally, I don’t think any of these are true, yet it simply hasn’t kicked off over here. With a few months successfully running 3rd party campaigns, my ambition is to bring Pay Per Call to the UK. The C7 Network is the perfect place to get the ball rolling.
To Begin With…
In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my experiences so far. This will include all the things you need to look out for when taking on the Pay Per Call challenge. No matter who you choose to take campaigns from, it pays to get on good first name terms with your affiliate manager.
Ensure you are asking lots of questions and don’t assume everything written down in the platform is correct. I’ve had countless occasions where I have challenged something in the terms following a few days testing only to be told the terms are wrong. This is followed by a lame apology which does not make up for the lost revenue.
The next things you need to be aware of are all the reasons a seemingly legit call is not tracked or paid out. Repeat calls, out of region calls, calls that don’t meet the criteria (often not stated in the terms) and the most annoying one of all…The wrong key press!
Make sure when you are researching which campaign to try, you really understand the user journey and how you get paid. Very often, the advertiser will try and trip you up by insisting the callers hit a certain option. This is made even more frustrating when you realise all the options go to the same place and the advertiser is getting a shit load of free leads from your traffic.
I have even gone as far as telling a potential caller to hit option 1/2 in my ad copy. This was to stop them hitting option 3 where I don’t get paid! Guess what? People still hit 3! Leading me to believe that only key words within ads are even acknowledged by someone searching for your service.
Are You Selling It Enough?
This brings me nicely on to the ad copy you settle on. First thing you will notice is that your character allowance is less than a standard adwords campaign. This is because you are aiming this at mobile only. This means you need to get very creative with how you sell in your campaign, especially if you need to include things like key presses.
You will then realise you have limited control over is how long people stay on the phone. I have found that really listening to the test call and trying to pick out any key words they use is very important. The more your ad copy can tie in to what is then said when a caller is connected, the better your chances of success.
Like traditional Google search campaigns, hitting gold on the first campaign is almost impossible. You need data to be able to see what works and what needs to be cut which is where the investment comes in. I have found that a good place to start is around £40-60 a day per offer. Try not to launch more than a couple at a time or it gets very expensive very quickly.
By default, pay per call offers come with a very high CPC. We are not talking about sweep-stake campaigns with a £0.30p click cost here. I have paid up to £12 a click for some offers in the early stages of a campaign. This is scary when you burn through £100 budget in under an hour with zero conversions. This is where you really need to hold your nerve and trust in your process of getting those CPC’s down.
Despite most people opting for a ‘Call Only’ option on Google adwords, the landing page you create for each offer plays a huge role in reducing that click cost. Ensuring it is relevant, stuffed with keywords that match your campaign and optimised for SEO means you have a good chance of reducing your costs. If you are getting a good impression share and clicks on the ad, your CPC will start to fall even without conversions. This is where you can make money with the help of some optimisation.
My advice is to set yourself up with a basic wordpress site and download the ‘Yoast SEO’ plugin. This will give you all the flexibility you need to get those pages spot on.
When you do finally get a campaign in the green, the next challenge is scaling that offer to a worthwhile point. Until now I have found this a challenge purely because you must now take some chances again.
You have an offer to the point where its making £20-30 a day without doing too much. To get it to £50-60 is going to mean more ads, more keywords and an increased bid to get your position up. At this point, your £30 daily profit is wiped out as you increase your clicks. The aim is to hit that sweet spot where enough people find your new ads relevant.
To sum up, Pay Per Call is a very ‘White Hat’ form of affiliate marketing. Most offers are in the states and there are maybe 8 – 10 major players in the space who will supply you with campaigns. Like other channels such as Native, Pop, Search, and Mobile, testing is everything to get something from red to green. The tiniest change can make a world of difference with Pay Per Call. Holding your nerve when the costs are racking up is vital.
Ensure you know everything there is to know about your offer and the user journey on the phone. Accept you are going to lose money but be confident in your approach. Go through the steps to get those CPC’s down in the first week. Scaling is hard but very achievable on many campaigns. Accept that once you are in profit, you are going to lose it again when you try and scale. Don’t get attached to those small wins.
I can recommend giving it a go. As the head of a major UK network, it has taught me a hell of a lot in a small space of time. Whether I continue with it or not. The learning curve has been invaluable.