There are lots of ways to generate inquiries for a small business. As the online advertising landscape has grown due to the ease of tracking and reporting Web visitors, a lot of small business advertisers have moved their offline budget to online placements.
As online direct response advertising and lead generation has grown, traditional media like print, TV and radio have had to adapt, and become more welcoming for companies that don’t have a pile of money to “test.” Radio specifically has moved quickly into direct response, due to the ease of creating an advertisement, and tracking with the use of unique call-in numbers and vanity URLs.
There are two distinct types of direct response radio advertising, Pay-per-lead and Pay-per-call. Both options usually require a relationship with a radio-specific agency that focuses on buying media on a per-inquiry basis.
Pay-per-call radio advertising is a direct response option that works well with call centers that have sophisticated phone tracking capabilities. When you are paying for calls, it’s important that someone is there to answer them. In a Pay-per-call agreement, you can expect to pay for connected calls that last between 30 seconds and one minute. This would signal that the call was not a wrong number or hang up, and the caller was legitimately interested in your products and services.
A couple issues that arise from Pay-per-call: 1) A call center generally doesn’t stay open 24 hours per day. So you either need a backup call center or you need to be prepared to pay for calls and voicemails that get left after hours. 2) Faulty reporting and tracking. If you’re paying for calls, you likely should use a unique number so you can track the calls along with the company buying the media that way you can compare data. In a best case scenario, you can utilize a third party call tracking solution company like Marchex or Mongoose metrics who specialize in tracking and sourcing call-in leads.
The most popular direct response radio advertising option is Pay-per-lead or Pay-per-sale. This is also not the norm, and these types of deals are hard to come by. There is a lot of risk for radio stations to run an ad with back-end compensation. Stations generally work with a specialized media buyer who they trust that can assure them they will get compensated. You also need to have a solid offer to even get picked up by the stations. A general offer like car insurance or online education might get a lot of free airplay in hopes of generating leads, but a niche offer like investing your retirement funds may not.
For both options, you need to have a professional spot created that can be shopped to relevant radio stations and networks. Getting a station to test the offer is easier than having them continue running it. Plus, generating a significant number of leads is what everyone wants. You should also be aware that the cost for leads and calls on radio will be higher than your general online lead campaign. For example, a term life insurance lead may cost $15-20 to generate on search or thru affiliate networks, but a lead from the radio could cost 2 – 3 times that. However, you should expect the radio lead to be higher quality, less likely to have been shopped around, and to close more often. But it will be integral that you are aggressive as possible when negotiating a lead price, and are open to increasing or decreasing that price based on the lead quality and success of the program. As ramping and getting more stations to pick up an offer could require increasing your payout.
Alternatively, should you not find any takers on your offer, or the proposed cost per call/lead from these radio media buying agencies is too high, you can also look into remnant radio advertising as a way to test the medium. This is essentially buying radio advertising on a space available basis, when the station has unsold media. This can occur during the morning commute, or the drive home, but that is when the high-paying advertisers want to show up. More often than not you are running in off hours or overnight. You should still be paying much less than “rate card” overnight placements. In the remnant scenario, it is also important to stick to stations and networks that are relevant to your offer. That last thing you want to have happen is for them to run your financial services ad overnight on the Top 40 channel. 12 – 24 year olds likely are not interested in your stock trading or life insurance offer.