Marriage of Mobile Affiliate Marketing and Pay Per Call

Yesterday RingRevenue has circulated a press release, which quoted with some truly impressive statistics:

…record mobile campaign growth, with third quarter call volume up more than 500 percent compared with the first quarter of this year. With conversion rates as high as 47 percent and top mobile publishers generating more than $75,000 per month in pay-per-call revenues, mobile has become a significant channel for high-impact call-based campaigns [underlining mine].

So, I reached out to Jason Spievak (JS), CEO of RingRevenue, to see if I (GP) could dig a little deeper into this obviously happy marriage of mobile affiliate marketing and pay per call.

Below you may find my interview with Mr. Spievak:

Mobile textingGP: Jason, first of all, congratulations on the truly impressive growth registered with mobile affiliate campaigns run through RingRevenue. What are the top 3 marketing avenues that work best with mobile affiliate marketing now? My guess would be text, mobile SEO, and paid search. What’s the reality?

JS: Yes.  Search, mobile SEO and text are among the top performing publisher formats on mobile.  With paid search, there’s significant overall lift for both clicks and calls when publishers can include a phone number in a mobile ad placement.  Basically, it lets consumers interact with an advertiser however they choose, and the publisher still gets credit.  On the organic side, we now see publishers including phone numbers in page titles to drive more calls and create more consumer confidence in engaging with that advertiser.

Text messaging is a little different because it depends so heavily on the relevance of the offer to the text message.  The volume is absolutely there, but the quality doesn’t compare to search, for example, where you’ve got an active consumer seeking out a solution.  And that’s where the RingRevenue platform comes in, as we’re able to quality filter those inbound callers from mobile campaigns and make sure that the advertiser’s phone is only ringing with qualified callers.

We also see subscription-based apps like Mobile Posse performing well, as they have an active community open to receiving the content being pushed out to them.  Phone numbers positioned in other mobile apps like gaming are growing but have a ways to go.  Including phone numbers in shopping apps and social media apps is showing early potential as well and will likely grow as a pay-per-call channel.

Whether it’s online or mobile, effective targeting is still an important part of any campaign and has a major impact on volume and conversion rates on mobile just as it does in traditional online marketing.

GP: Without giving away anyone’s secrets, what are some of the top mobile affiliate marketing vehicles that seem to drive fastest now (for example, coupons, demographically-targeted promos, comparison shopping, etc)?

JS: Happy to share some secrets, but you’ll have to come to Santa Barbara with your fishing gear to get them.  What we can share is that — like with online marketing — it’s all about reaching a consumer at the right time with the right offer.  Coupon and comparison sites work well online, but those types of publishers haven’t quite yet figured out how to reproduce that consumer experience on the smaller screen.  Pay-per-call is a very natural fit in that environment because all of us have a phone in our hands at the moment we’re engaging with their media, and the most intuitive consumer action then is to click to make a call.  And the conversion rates are much higher as well for two reasons.  The first is that the consumer who calls in is more committed to the process than one who clicks.  And the second is that a trained sales agent is converting those callers to customers 30%-50% of the time, compared to a much lower conversion rate through an application or mobile web interface.

GP: What, in your opinion, are the most underutilized (yet highly promising) methods of mobile marketing (e.g.: location-based marketing, video, etc)?

JS: Even though search is one of the top ways affiliates are leveraging pay-per-call, it is still probably one of the most underutilized.  There are a lot of online search affiliates who haven’t invested in this space yet.  They know from their traditional online marketing that mobile doesn’t convert very well on clicks.  Consumers who search on their mobile and are driven to websites or landing pages typically have a high abandonment rate because the experience isn’t easy on the smaller screen.  They plan to come back to it later when they get to their computer.  But the downside is they don’t go back through the affiliate link.  They go directly to the advertiser, and the publisher doesn’t get the credit for the lead even though they paid for the click.  By including a phone number in the mobile search results, not only are publishers seeing higher click-through rates as a result, but they’re also driving high-value calls directly from the mobile.  And in many cases the call-based EPCs are higher than click-based EPCs.

Local marketing on mobile is also in its very early days, but we’re seeing it begin to take hold on our platform.  Advertisers can set their payouts based on targeted regions, and we’re seeing more affiliates on the platform now who are interested in promoting local businesses with pay-per-call campaigns.  Most local businesses aren’t looking to conduct an e-commerce transaction.  They’re looking to get you on the phone or in the door.  And having the phone number right there in the ad or the search results drives that direct connection between the consumer and the local advertiser.  The challenge here is that certain types of local service providers will pay tens of dollars per call whereas restaurants and other local business typically can afford to pay much less.  So, targeted local websites and regionally focused apps can outperform the much broader local directory sites.

GP: Mobile is undoubtedly a great marketing opportunity, but what about privacy issues (e.g.: people possibly being spammed by mobile affiliates), and does RingRevenue have any mechanisms set in place to address this?

JP: Yes. We take privacy very seriously, and we provide advertisers with all the controls they need to monitor their calls from individual publisher sources and the ability to instantly shut down publishers who may not be engaging in acceptable practices based on the terms the advertiser has outlined.

When applying to campaigns, publishers are asked about their promotional methods and their profile information is shared with the advertisers.  And advertisers have the ability to accept or reject applications based on that information.  Advertisers also have the ability to reverse any transactions for publishers who may have engaged in unacceptable practices.  So the incentive for publishers to engage in that kind of activity is low.  Our network partners also have network quality teams that are continuously monitoring applications and publisher behavior to ensure privacy guidelines are met and adhered to.

GP: Thank you for your time, Jason. It is always a pleasure chatting with you.

1 thought on “Marriage of Mobile Affiliate Marketing and Pay Per Call”

  1. Wow.

    Having been an online affiliate since 2001, I’ve just officially had my mind opened up to something I’ve heard mentioned, but never understood until this article.

    I have to be in front of people on their cell phones in a way that lets me be the referral source… and the most effective way to do that is with a phone number.


    I’ve not signed up for RingRevenue, but I am headed there now.

    Thanks for the interview.


    Jonathan Kraft

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