Saturday, November 18, 2006

Google Adds "Click to Call"

Google has added "click to call" features to its Maps feature. So why does that matter? Primarily because it sheds light on the value of a voice session. For example, advertisers who use "pay to call" services are spending money for lead generation, not "calling" as such. So the value of a call is not measured in "cents per minute" but in "sales per lead."

And that's worth lots more than simple "calling." For example, advertisers often pay significant amounts of money for lead generation that they wouldn't pay for toll-free service, for example. In many cases, retailers pay between $2.50 and $35 for phone-in leads:

• Florists ($2.50)
• Lawyers ($10-$30)
• Towing ($8)
• Carpet Cleaning ($8)
• Travel ($8)
• Dentists ($5)
• Mortgage ($35)
• Cosmetic Surgery ($20)
• Auto Glass ($15)

And make no mistake: calls are worth more than clicks. The average click price at the national level at the end of 2005 was $1.43, according to Fathom Online’s keyword price index. On average, a sponsored link returned by a search is worth nine to 12 cents per click paid by an advertiser to the search engine that produced the click.

Advertisers routinely pay 10 times that amount for an inbound phone call. That’s $10 for a call, not some cents a minute. That’s why eBay bought Skype. And that’s why a shift from “clicks” to “calls” makes a difference for the broader telecommunications industry.

It changes the ways voice communications provide value, and changes the willingness of a company to pay for communications in a certain context.

In other words, a call is not worth so many cents per minute, but is worth the value of a “hot lead”, right now.

Click-to-call has a simple revenue model which most businesses understand. It is conceptually same as "referral fees." In the real estate or the mortgage business, such leads are worth $30 to $40 per call. Some of the emergency services like plumbers, dentists, locksmiths have up to 50-60 percent conversion rates for click to call leads.That makes sense, since most people onlyh call plumbers, dentists and locksmiths when they are about to buy service immediately.

At least some survey data suggests that 71 percent of small to mid sized businesses would rather pay for a phone call than a click to their website, according to the Kelsey Group.

No comments: