Friday, April 6, 2007

Pay-Per-Call Is Really Revenue-Per-Call


The internet continues to evolve in ways that will specifically benefit mortgage companies. Two recent developments will greatly enhance the quality of your inquiries: local search and pay-per-call. Let's briefly address local search first.

Monetizing Local Searches

Pay-per-call ads seem to really benefit local search. In example, if someone is searching for "Cleveland Home Loan" the search engines can return advertisers that offer Cleveland mortgages because they saw the term "Cleveland" in the query. The search engines also have the capability to recognize your IP address for your inquiry, and even if you type "home loan" they can tell that since you are in Phoenix, you really meant "Phoenix Home Loan" and return results targeted to your location. As you can see, local search is a rapidly developing market.

Voice Clicking

Just like sponsored pay-per-click listings where potential visitors click on a hyperlink, pay-per-call ads appear adjacent to organic search results. Pay-per-call ads work by offering the visitors your phone number instead of clicking.

Just Call Me

The pay-per-call model is good for any company with customers that ask lots of questions, or need to be guided through the decision making process.

Pay-per-call encourages potential visitors to pick up the phone and call advertisers instead of visiting their web sites. While typical companies may not want to have customers calling them, many mortgage companies welcome this option due to the high amount of skill sometimes required to answer questions. Other companies that are likely candidates include any service were there is either a high conversion rate (travel agents, lawyers, florists) or immediate need (tow trucks, plumbers, electricians), or both.

Most people still conduct their mortgage transactions by phone, so when a potential customer contacts you, they're not browsing, they are verifying their intent on using your service.

Costs More, But You Get More

Advertisers pay more for calls than clicks, but advertisers only pay AFTER a visitor dials the company's 800 number.

Pay-per-call ads cost more than pay-per-click fees, but you receive more for your money. When your potential visitor clicks on your Pay-per-call listing, they are transported to a more comprehensive "details" page offering additional information about your mortgage company. These details include such items as: your hours, any special offers, your rates, description of your products and service, promotional offers, your street address, a map and logo. Only after the visitor see this information, will they call, so you receive a "pre-screened" customer.

In addition to offering the click through hyperlink, a toll free phone number appears. When a potential customer dials that number, the advertiser is billed a fixed amount.

To feature their ads, advertisers need to bid on keywords for these ads, just as they do with pay-per-click ads.

Higher Close Rates

Most mortgage company owners will agree that a voice conversation will result in a higher rate of converting visitors to customers, than will clicks to a web site. It is important to note that you must have skilled telephone sales representatives or your internet efforts will be futile and costly.

Another advantage is that once you have a caller, you are preempting them from visiting a multitude of competitors' online sites.

Bonus Features

Some of the pay-per-call companies offer the ability to switch your listing on and off and/or forward calls to an after-hours number to suit your work schedule. In example, if your Seattle office is closed, but your Dallas office is open, rather than lose a Seattle customer at 7 a.m. local time, that caller would be routed to Dallas. Additionally, during holidays like July 4th or Martin Luther King's day, you can suspend your ad so you do not receive calls that you can not service.

Pay-per-call companies state that click-fraud will go away for pay-per-call clients, as more work is involved in dialing than clicking. Also the companies state that they employ other safeguards against fraud, such as not charging advertisers for unusually brief calls or repeated calls originating from the same source. In example, Miva.com states there are no extra charges for multiple calls from the same consumer made within a 10 day initial period.

You can set a maximum cap on the amount you want to be billed each month. In example, you could set a limit of $500 and when you have reached that value in calls, your pay-per-call ad is removed from the search results display, until the beginning of next month.

Pay-Per-Call Considerations

If you are a small brokerage and want to direct pay-per-calls to your cell phone, be sure that you have voice mail activated as if you are on the phone, or out of range, you will still be billed for the incoming call.

Just like with pay-per-click, advertisers bid on the maximum amount they will offer for pay-per-call listings. The higher the bid, the higher your ad will appear in the search display results.

Mortgage companies without a web site can even use the pay-per-call service.

Where to Get Pay-Per-Call

AOL and Miva.com (formerly FindWhat.com) offer pay-per-call services. We have also seen advertisers sneak their phone numbers into their Google pay-per-click campaigns.

Click or Call

We suggest using both pay-per-click and pay-per-call campaigns. You can tailor your efforts according to your products and personnel. If you have good "phone closers" then emphasize the pay-per-call program. If you want high productivity and let your web site do the work, allow pay-per-click to dominate your marketing efforts.

Many companies view advertising as an expense, but the better you design your web site to meet your customers needs, or the more skilled your "phone closers" can actually make your pay-per-call and pay-per-click really revenue-per-call and revenue-per-click.


(Rod Aries and Robert Farris are co-founders of MortgagePromote.com, a leading Internet marketing provider to corporate mortgage clients.)

For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.


Originally published May 2006.



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