If you ask most marketers about voice leads they usually think you are talking about hotkey transfers where a call centre dials through a list of prospects trying to generate interest for a product or service and then transfers these potential customers over to the advertiser.

While hotkeys can work for some advertisers there are a number of potential problems that can put off many companies. Firstly, the “quality” of the prospects are often determined by the quality of the data set being used to generate the interest in the first place. Secondly the incentive of the call centre agent to push the consumer through to the advertiser will have a huge impact on the conversion rate. 

While both of these problems can be overcome with a bit of thought and finding the right partner, it can often cost a huge amount of money and time to get there. For example, if you are a life insurance company buying hotkeys, worst case scenario the initial data set could be of people with medical conditions that will never get cover or the call centre agents are over incentivised to push consumers through which means they are not really interested or they cancel their policies even if they do convert at first.

Acquisition Sensibility

In principle, though, paying publishers or affiliates for interested consumers who are waiting on the other end of the phone is a very sensible customer acquisition strategy, but rather than buying hotkeys (or even data leads), why not buy voice leads? A voice lead combines the best of hotkeys and data leads in that the consumer has initiated the contact (like a data lead), but the physical delivery of the enquiry is a phone call (like a hot key) and the advertiser pays per call. Voice lead generation is already big business in the USA, but it has not really taken off in the UK yet.

From the advertiser perspective, if you are buying data leads to put into a call centre and outbound then you are spending money just to get people on the phone, let alone convert the leads into sales. Even if you manage to contact 80% of the leads you buy, the cost in time and resources to do so – let alone the 20% you can never contact – can amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds per year for a large campaign. So if consumers are happy to transact over the phone for your product or service, why not buy voice leads? 

The rationale for advertisers to buy voice leads is pretty clear, but why would publishers and affiliates want to generate voice leads rather than data leads?

Historically, the biggest barrier for publishers and affiliates (and in fact many advertisers) has not been lack of a desire, but lack of technology to track voice activity accurately and efficiently. The good news is that this problem has been solved. Companies like IOVOX are already starting to revolutionise this market by offering an easy-to-use but highly sophisticated platform for tracking and analysing phone call traffic. These systems really are as easy as pulling a unique number, assigning it to a campaign, routing the calls to the advertiser, then sitting back and watching the calls come in. Advertisers, publishers and affiliates are able to drill down into incredible detail on their voice campaigns from call volumes and call lengths to caller location user behaviour.

Call Generation

Outside of the ability to track the calls is the simple issue of how do you actually generate the calls in the first place? In the US, the voice lead market is far more established and there are hundreds of thousands of calls being traded each month across various products and services. We are at a much earlier stage in the UK, so in truth there is no easy answer to this question. It’s going to take some brave affiliates and publishers to take a leap of faith and start experimenting. There are lots of clues as to where this traffic might come from though. 

For example, I spoke to a well-known email marketing company recently that said that over 60% of the emails they sent were opened on a mobile device. So if you are an affiliate sending emails for a campaign, where the consumer is going to end up speaking to the advertiser, why not at least give them the option to make a phone call direct from the email if they are going to open that email on their phone? 

Surprisingly, not many advertisers or affiliates in the UK have made the link between mobile and voice leads. In the affiliate space, mobile is currently mainly used for commerce and vouchers rather than high value voice leads. But in sectors where pay-outs for calls can be significantly higher than data leads, this is an opportunity missed.

Although it might take time and resources, it seems inevitable that voice lead generation is going to emerge as a significant segment in the UK over the coming years. For those affiliates that are prepared to invest the time and money now the potential rewards are huge and as advertisers start to get hooked on the quality of voice leads, they will handsomely reward affiliates that can make the phones ring.