Hard to believe that the post below was originally published more the SEVEN years ago in October 2006. Thanks to Sean Fenlon was sharing it with me recently. It’s equally inspiring to see how much has changed technologically but the core values – “a human talking to another human” per Sean, remain the same.
Pay per call reminds me in many ways of online video. It’s an area that shows tremendous growth and promise, but at the same time is so broad and has so many applications that wrapping one’s mind around it is difficult. There isn’t and can’t be one definition or implementation. One of the more intuitive implementations involves what is discussed in the following article – Pay per Call and Local Services. It entails a company that might not have a website, being able to place an ad online and connect with customers through an intermediary. The intermediary in this case doesn’t create a website, collect leads, and then sell them. This intermediary has created an interface whereby the local company can enter their ad and the telephone upon which to receive the call. The pay per call provider creates a trackable, toll-free number for the user and then bills the advertiser accordingly based on bids.
If we take a step back and think about what pay per call means, it doesn’t by definition have anything to do with local services. That just happens to be an intuitive implementation. All it really means is charging a merchant for a call to take place. One of the earliest and proven forms involves the pay per call equivalent of an online advertising network. The consumer sees an ad on a site, calls a trackable number, gets in touch with the merchant all without realizing that another company facilitated. While the consumer initiates the call in this model, what if instead, a third-party called the user and offered to connect them with a merchant? This is just what Double Positive in Baltimore, Maryland has done.
The reason for featuring the type of pay per call implementation practiced by Double Positive in this piece is two fold. First, it’s to highlight a method that has immediate plug in to the lead generation space, and second is because their method doesn’t compete with existing lead generation companies. It acts as an enhancer, much like TargusInfo does. Had they wanted to, the company could have created a pay per call lead generation company that bought traffic from the search engines or from display ads and had users dial a phone number. Most people when challenged with creating a pay per call play in the lead generation space probably would have.
I had the opportunity to chat with Sean Fenlon, CEO and founder of Double Positive about his business. Prior to Double Positive, the other company which he helped lead also operated in the lead generation space. That company was among the earliest in generating leads for the mortgage banking sector, and after being sold he decided to pursue his version of pay per call, which has become known more commonly as hot transfer leads. Companies pay per each call, but rather than a consumer calling in, the user, as mentioned before, is connected with the lead buyer upon first being contacted and qualified by Double Positive.
The goal of lead generation is as Sean puts it, “a human talking to another human.” With today’s lead generation though, it is at the end of the day still an inexact science. Consumers have submitted their information in order to be contacted, but for a number of reasons they might not get contacted. This is where Double Positive can assist. They work on behalf of the lead generator to make sure that consumers’ expectations are fulfilled. If a user expects four choices, but the lead generator can match only three, then Double Positive can proactively call the person and match them once more.
The proactive pay per call, this notion of a hot transfer of interested lead to waiting advertiser has some powerful implications. It can help improve quality by ferreting out the gems from typically lower quality such as co-registration. It can also be used to help check quality and filtering. Leads that might have been rejected by other clients as uncallable or bad can be sent to a firm such as Double Positive, and their efforts will help validate what other clients say or lead to incremental revenue if in fact they turn out to be good. It’s a win-win for lead generators because they get valuable feedback on the leads and/or money.
Double Positive currently focuses primarily in mortgage leads, but they are expanding to other verticals including education. The idea of taking a lead and transferring it in real time to another human being just makes sense after you hear about it. Judging by the results, it must make sense to lead buyers too. They can’t seem to get enough. And, similar to local advertising via pay per call, the hot transfer is here to stay. It’s nice to see though an implementation like Double Positive’s that leverages the existing lead generation companies as opposed to trying to compete directly with them.