Since the dawn of affiliate marketing, advertisers have had to combat fraud. While pay-per-call advertisers have less to worry about  –it’s harder to cheat the system when there’s an actual human-to-human conversation versus a lead form –there are still those who don’t play by the rules and call fraud does exist.

Luckily, advanced pay-per-call platforms and call intelligence tools can protect advertisers from throwing away money on bogus leads. Here are seven ways to guard yourself from the evils of affiliate call fraud.

1. Define the Rules of Success

A phone call doesn’t automatically equal a sale or even quality lead. To avoid getting junk leads, analyze the elements that signal a successful call and build those into your payout criteria. Common criteria includes things like:

  • Minimum call duration
  • Call center hours
  • Caller location
  • Key presses

With Invoca’s pay-per-call platform it’s easy to build this criteria right into your campaign structure. You can also optimize these settings in seconds and send automatic notifications to publishers. Setting specific payout criteria will help protect yourself from incentivized traffic and from wasting money on leads that call in after hours or are completely unqualified.

2. Review Publishers

I know it’s time-consuming to review all publishers, but auto-accepting makes you susceptible to fraud. Develop relationships with publishers. Look at their website, promotional methods, target audience, and make sure they don’t incentivize traffic. This may take longer up front but having a group of trusted publishers will be far friendlier on your wallet in the end.  If a low quality or fraudulent publisher does manage to get through your screening process, make sure to suspend them right away.

3. Test Small

Just like with any new marketing campaign, start by testing small. Start with a small test budget and work with a few trusted publishers. This will allow you to work out the kinks in your call treatment or your pay-out structure. Once things are running smoothly you can begin working with more publishers and increasing traffic.

4. Use an IVR to Qualify Calls

You don’t want your sales reps or call centers wasting time on fraudulent calls. That’s a major drain on your bottom line. The best offense is a great defense, and the best defense is an automated call treatment and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system. Use your automated call treatment to pre-qualify calls before they are connected to a live rep. Setting up a brief and easy to follow series of key presses not only improves the caller experience, it also weeds out fraudulent calls and robo-dialers. This screening process could be as easy as having someone press 1 to speak to a sales agent and 2 for customer assistance. Or you can can work several qualifying questions into your phone prompts such as:

  • Press 2 if your are over the age of 65. 
  • Press 3 if you are married. 
  • Press 4 to receive a personalized quote from a live agent. 

5. Review Call Recordings

Call recordings have a wealth of information that can help you identify fraud. You’d be surprised how much you can find out about your customers and traffic sources from listening to a phone call. Listen for red flags that indicate low quality or incentivized traffic. Incentivized callers will usually tell the sales rep that they have been directed to make a call and hold on the line for a specified amount of time to receive payment for placing the call. When you identify fraud calls like this, you can link it back to publisher’s unique promo number. This is especially effective against fraudulent serial callers.

6. Adjust Commission Structure

The way you structure publisher payouts has a huge effect on the quality of your traffic. To improve quality, design your payouts to reward publishers for quality rather than quantity. For example, you can offer a smaller commission for inbound calls that meet the set criteria, then offer an additional percentage for a completed sale. With advanced pay-per-call platforms, you can sync sales data with your pay-per-call campaigns so you can easily keep track of qualified leads and completed sales. You can even offer a percentage of the total sale amount to publishers. The key is to set up your pay structure so that you are only paying for the calls you really want.

7. Know Your Audience

The most important thing to keep in mind when attempting to minimize call fraud is to have a good understanding of the audience you are trying to attract. Once you know your audience, you can build your pay-per-call campaign around the needs of your audience.  You’ll be able to choose publishers who can effectively target your audience and who can filter out people that fall outside your niche.

Masters of Pay Per Call: Winning New Opportunities in Performance MarketingIf you’re taking these precautions and using the tools available to you, there’s no reason pay-per-call fraud should pose a serious threat. If you want to learn how national advertisers and leading agencies are growing revenue with pay-per-call, download our new eBook, Masters of Pay Per Call: Winning New Opportunities in Performance Marketing. 

Amber Tiffany

Posted by Amber Tiffany

Amber has a background in content strategy and brings her passion for writing along with her two first names to the role of Senior Content Marketing Manager at Invoca. Amber began her career as a marketing copywriter and has since gained experience in SEM and content strategy for both B2C and B2B organizations. Amber loves the outdoors, physical activity, especially when it’s competitive, reading and attempting to be musical. She is currently training daily to become the first female champion in Invoca’s Ping Pong League history.

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