Joe Siegrist, head of technology at Estara, the online communications specialists, shared his insights into the Click to Call or Pay Per Call market online.
From the time the company started playing with VOIP in 1999, Estara has been pushing the envelop of online telephony and basic online communications. People like Siegrist have become advocates for this next turn in the internet marketing methodology.
Estara was working with computer microsphones when MSN started touting "Talk to Your Computer" and the crosssover to developing a Pay Per Call solution for search or any internet marketing was a natural progression. "We developed the first PC to phone e-commerce application," Siegrist said.
ROI is always part of the equation in online marketing and Estara found that phone contacts converted better. "You don't get the same closure rates with chat that you can with phones," Siegrist noted.
JupiterResearch did a study that found phones converted 73% better than text chat. Siegrist sees the technology being mainstream by 2009. Right now Estara has Verizon SuperPages, A9, the Amazon engine, Yahoo! UK and Ireland and also Sensis - the Australian search engine, are using their technology. Verizon has been using it since 2003.
They integrate the technology seamlessly. "We add a few steps into the initial sign up (for advertisers) and we use category pricing, listings via geolocation. Estara takes over and assigns the numbers and sets up the contact," Siegrist explained.
Costs start at $2 per call.
Estara sees their "Click to Call" marketing being a great tool for local advertisers on the web. The technology allows for much more sophisicated modeling and techniques, Siegrist said. "You will start seeing it come into focus (as a more used method) when local businesses are more active online," he said. It is being forecast as a $4 billion market in 2009.
Estara combines the technology with leading ROI technology with easy proof of value. Right now they can assign local numbers in the United States, UK, France and Australia, Siegrist said.
Apart from pizza makers and taxis, Siegrist sees Click to Call as being a central feature that will promote local marketing for many small businesses.
The local plumber will be able to have the calls directed straight to his cellphone with contact information being backed up at Estara. Estara is looking to make sure all paths to the potential customer are covered, Siegrist stated.
"It scales great for small local businesses that don't have people sitting by the computer." As more and more people use the web over Yellow Pages this technology will become more popular as well.