The Rise Of Local Mobile Pay-Per-Call – 3 Tips For SMBs

Local mobile pay-per-call advertising has kicked into high gear in 2012 .

Since mobile devices are not only search tools but phones at their core, mobile pay per call is a natural ad model for businesses aiming to capitalize on ever-expanding consumer mobile usage.

While national ad programs formerly comprised the majority of pay-per-call ads, SMB campaigns have taken a huge leap as local ad programs now represent 62 percent of pay-per-call ads.

Much of this growth can be attributed to advertising providers effectively selling pay-per-call programs to, and generating results for, SMBs, and, in turn, SMBs embracing the overall value of mobile and tracking calls as a key performance metric. Mobile represents the ultimate medium for enabling SMBs to truly understand how buyers are connecting with them.

How Pay-Per-Call Can Be Valuable To SMBs

There is now an opportunity to harness the intersection of more explosive consumer mobile adoption and the recent upswing in SMB mobile pay-per-call. In the spirit of National Small Business month, here are three tips for SMBs around maximizing the value of pay-per-call.

1) Tap Into Mobile Call Value

Call durations are a reliable indicator of lead quality, as longer calls typically indicate a move toward a purchase. We’ve seen overall call durations increase by 20.1% since Q1 2011 and mobile call durations are still the longest when compared to other local search media (3.5 minutes for mobile, followed by Yellow Pages at 2.8 minutes, Internet Yellow Pages at 2.7 minutes and paid search at 2.2 minutes).

These statistics point to a larger trend — while consumers are primarily using PC-based online searches to conduct research, they are using mobile to “find” a business and initiate a purchase.

As a result, marketers should be willing to pay more for these high-quality mobile leads. And although pay-per-call is a great complement to pay-per-click ad programs, calls ultimately drive more value by providing richer data and more actionable lead generation insights, such as call times, answered call status, caller demographics and highest-performing distribution channels.

When used together, calls and clicks provide a more complete picture of an ad’s lead generation impact by tracking both online and offline purchase-related activity.

2) Evaluate Categories For Local Mobile Pay-Per-Call Success

Gone are the days of SMBs seeking high-volume, low cost leads. Today’s savvier SMBs demand  customized advertising programs that consistently deliver high-quality leads.

Marketers need to evaluate their individual type of business for mobile advertising potential and determine appropriate pay-per-call pricing. For example, according to AT&T Interactive’s Local Insights Report, categories like restaurants, automotive, movie theaters and beauty services took the top spots for mobile search. Marketers in these categories should definitely adopt pay-per-call because mobile-enabled searchers are making on-the-go buying decisions for these types of products and services.

Additionally, phone calls, as well as other secondary actions like map views and driving directions, represent a key response metric. It is key that marketers understand that calls represent leads with the potential to convert — a pay-per-call lead isn’t a guaranteed sale.

3) Adjust Benchmarks For Industry And Mobile Channel

Providers should develop billable criteria based on each SMB advertiser’s industry, and advertisers should expect them to adjust pricing to appropriate levels. The definition of quality in a call will vary across categories.

Look at what different mobile call durations mean for your business and sales process – a one-minute call to a bagel shop likely represents a higher-quality lead than a one-minute call to a real estate agent.

Also take into account that call durations are typically higher for mobile vs. other media types as mobile consumers receive limited information via their devices and often call the business to complete their research prior to booking an appointment or reservation or making a purchase.

To maximize consumer engagement with the limited mobile ad space available, include the most important consumer engagement points on the first click — phone number, hours of operation, address etc.

Additionally, determine whether you’re willing to pay for repeat callers during a specific time period — a pizzeria will likely receive repeat callers during the course of a month. Lastly, what advertisers should be willing to pay per-call should be determined based on factors including the  business model and average sales value, as well as the mobile medium’s proven ability to deliver quality leads in that category.

The key for SMBs to take their mobile marketing to the next level is understanding the value of mobile leads brought in via pay-per-call. Utilize call data to improve specific mobile ad programs and creative content, and make sure your provider understands your business model and the value of pay-per-call to your business.