A Strategy for Increasing Call Quality for Pay Per Call Affiliate Campaigns

Graph that illustrates various call qualityThis article offers the pay per call affiliate a simple solution for increasing call quality and improving their network stats.

The goal of the pay per call affiliate is to generate qualifying calls to advertisers for less money than will be paid out.

By necessity, this often means cutting out high cost media channels in favor of low cost options. The question is, will the call quality from these lower cost options make your advertisers happy? If not, they may result in the pay per call affiliate losing the privilege of promoting some offers.

Here’s a couple examples of media channels that have high volume potential, but questionable call quality…

I received a phone call a while back from a gentleman who owned a toll-free number which received over 20,000 calls PER DAY to Sprint. He wanted to know if we had an offer that might appeal to these callers. Apparently he had purchased the number after Sprint let it go for some reason, and he intended to capitalize on all those calls with an in-call ad (an audio ad that plays for all callers, hoping to convert some).

He’s not the first enterprising entrepreneur to buy up toll free numbers that are likely to be dialed by consumers. Some companies own thousands of numbers and Primetel reportedly owns about three million!

Besides the calls that will be made by people who read an out-of-date listing, such as in the Sprint example above, some calls will be caused by fat finger dialing (hitting the wrong keys by mistake). But regardless of the cause, the consumers who dial these numbers intend to reach a certain a party, and in most cases do not. If a misdial number is pointed directly at a pay per call advertiser, you can see why the advertiser may not be happy with the call quality.

Mobile Click-to-Call Advertising
As high adoption rates continue for web-ready mobile phones, the importance of mobile advertising continues to skyrocket. For those mobile ad networks that offer a pay per click model, their cost per click is often far lower than competing platforms, such as Google’s Adwords platform. And with mobile, those clicks can just as easily be calls. Rather than sending prospects through to a landing page, mobile ads clicks can generate an instant phone call. But if you aren’t careful about where your ads are shown, this can lead to hundreds or even thousands of calls that go nowhere. The amount of content you can fit on a mobile banner ad is limited, so some clickers may not even know what the offer is all about. And some ad channels push callers through that have no right being pushed through. Call quality can really suck.

One affiliate was nice enough to share his first experience with mobile click-to-call advertising, which ended in disaster.

“My banner ads were slotted to run on numerous targeted mobile properties at a cost of $0.15 per click. I was offered the choice of either sending clickers thru to a landing page, or initiating an instant phone call via click-to-call. I opted for the latter, theoretically creating phone calls for only $0.15 each. Hey, great deal, right? I decided to take it slow and do a small test of only 500 calls (a cost of $75). I fired up the campaign and at the end of the test I reviewed the calls. Disappointingly, not even one of the calls had turned into a decent prospect. Most of them were dead-air, (aka ghost-calls).”

Now imagine the impact of those 500 calls on his affiliate network stats… Not pretty.

Easy Solutions for Enhancing Call Quality…

You can see from the examples above how certain media channels can drive low quality calls that advertisers will not be happy with. So what is the solution? I suggest two components:

Improve Call Quality with In-depth Call Reviews

Get yourself some tracking numbers from any call-tracking providers and do your own call measurement. Telmetrics is a safe bet. They do tracking for AT&T and other heavyweights. Independent call tracking will allow you to promote your tracking number instead of the number the advertiser gives you.

Your tracking number will ring thru to the advertiser’s number, so there is no difference in how the call is perceived by the consumer. But you now have the benefit of recording the calls (with permission) and reviewing the detailed call logs, which are not normally available to pay per call affiliate marketers. By doing your own call measurement and reviewing each call, you can gain deep insight into call quality and how your ads are performing – and the likelihood of an advertiser losing confidence in you.

If your promotion is producing dodgy calls, you’ll the first to know about it and you can nip the problem in the bud.

Improve Call Quality with IVR Call Filtering

Adding your own IVR to the mix will eliminate some or even most of the poor quality calls that would normally stream right through to your advertisers.

Here’s how it works… Let’s say you are using a new media channel and you aren’t sure what kind of call quality it will result in. Rather than risking your relationship with your advertiser (and blowing up your affiliate network stats), you can filter calls with a series of prerecord IVR messages.

E.G.¬† ‘If you are calling for a free consultation, press 1, for all other inquires, press 2‘.

And if the advertiser has stipulated other qualifications, you can filter for those as well simply by adding layers to the IVR. E.g. ‘If you owe under $10,000 to the IRS, press 1, if you owe over $10,000, press 2.’

There was a day and age where some people would not tolerate IVR’s and they would hang up. But that was decades ago. I’m not saying that we like IVRs any more now than we used to. But we’ve gotten used to them and most people will at least tolerate a well structured IVR that doesn’t send callers into loops. You may still lose a percentage of callers. But for testing purposes, there is no lower cost option for filtering the calls¬† based on qualification criteria, and in my opinion, no better way to safeguard your network stats.

But remember, if your advertisers also use an IVR (and most of them do), you need to take care not to duplicate any of their messages. For example, if their IVR asks “If you would like a quote on auto insurance, press 1”, you obviously don’t want your IVR saying the same thing, otherwise the caller will hear it twice and possibly hangup. Instead, just begin with a simple question, such as “Thank you for calling our auto insurance quote hotline, if you are calling from the United States, press 1, otherwise, press 2”. This message makes the caller aware that they have reached a line related to auto insurance quotes. If that isn’t why they called, they will hang up. That’s what you want!

The upshot of it is that the people that make it through your IVR filter are going to be much better prospects than if you let everyone through without the IVR. Your advertisers will love you (or at least won’t hate you) and you’ll have eliminated the risk of sending a batch of junk calls through and potentially saved the relationship. Besides that, your network affiliate conversion stats will improve tremendously.

How advertisers see affiliate performance statistics

If your conversion stats are good, you’ll get approved more often and sometimes quicker. If your stats suck, you can expect to be declined from some of the better offers.

Get yourself a hosted IVR provider. Once you do, your call quality will improve tremendously and you’ll never look back! There are plenty of supplier options, just do a search for ‘hosted IVR’. Five9, IfbyPhone and CallFire all offer affordable options. And if you choose one of these suppliers, they can also handle your call-tracking needs, albeit at a somewhat higher cost than Telmetrics, but if you are using their IVR service, call tracking is always part of the package anyway.

I have used all of the suppliers mentioned here and they are all good. And after almost three years with IfbyPhone, we have nary a complaint. As an added bonus, they have the ability to filter calls by time-of-day (day-parting) and by geographics (geo-targeting). If a caller is not in the correct region, or calling outside of business hours, your IVR can redirect them to a ‘sorry, we don’t currently serve people in your area’ or ‘please call back between the hours of 9-5‘. If you don’t do that, all those callers STILL COUNT negatively on your stats, even though they might have been legitimate prospects!


In summary, let me say that as a pay per call affiliate marketer, call quality is your responsibility. You must implement the business rules that will guarantee that you do not lose your affiliate relationships, because once they are burned, they are burned for good. And the knowledge that you will gain through the process of Call Review and Call Filtering will be invaluable to your business going forward.

Consider the process of Call Review and Call Filtering an inexpensive education towards improving call quality and a proven, relatively inexpensive way to improve your network statistics.

By Benny Traub

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