What Is The Cheapest Way To Pay For Voice Broadcasting?

There are 3 basic ways to pay for a voice broadcasting campaign, and one of the most frequently asked questions is “which way is cheapest for me”.  As you may suspect, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, so let’s discuss the different methods used to charge for broadcasting, and highlight the benefits and potential pitfalls of each.

Pay Per Live Transfer

With the pay per transfer method, a set fee ($x.xx) is charged for each call that is transferred to you as a result of the listener pressing “1″ in response to your recorded message.  The fee should not vary depending on the length of the transferred call, costing  the same whether you’re on the phone for less than a minute, or for hours.  This method is the easiest to understand, and has the most predictable costs of any of the 3 methods.

However, one pitfall of this method is since it cannot be used if to deliver messages to answer machines (obviously, a message on an answer machine cannot “press 1″ and turn into a live transfer…), it is limited to broadcasters who are delivering their message to live answered phone numbers only.

And despite the exact cost predictability associated with pay per transfer, it is not always the least expensive method.  If your message and/or calling list results in an above average response rate (with more than about 1% of the live deliveries resulting in a “press 1″ transfer), it is possible that paying on a per minute basis might be less costly in that instance.

And a final pitfall is not with the pay per transfer method itself, but with some voice broadcaster’s ads and websites claiming extremely low (we’ve seen as low as $2.00 per transfer advertised).  In every case of this that we’ve seen, the voice broadcaster is actually charging per minute, but claiming that you “might” obtain an effective cost per transfer that low. So, when speaking with any voice broadcasting company who advertises a pay per transfer cost, make sure that is exactly how they really charge you.

Pay Per Delivery

With pay per delivery charging, a set fee ($0.xxx) is charged for each delivered message. This method can be used for live answered as well as answer machine delivered broadcasts, so if you’re delivering to answer machines this is one to consider.

Again, this method is very predictable in terms of cost, but in some instances you may pay less using pay per minute.

Some other pitfalls include broadcasting companies who are charging you “per dial” or “per connect” (be careful of the word “connect” – some companies use this word in a misleading way, to simply mean a “dial”).  You don’t want to be paying for calls made that don’t result in an actual delivered message, to either a live answered phone or voicemail. Often, calling lists will have 30-40% of their numbers that don’t result in delivered messages.

Another pitfall is that some companies may charge you extra per minute for transferred calls. For cost predictability and transparency, it’s best to keep it simple, and pay only for each delivered message.

Pay Per Minute

This method is the least predictable in terms of total cost to you, and also contains the most possible pitfalls, yet in some circumstances can be the least costly.

The problems in predicting cost with this pricing method include;

- Call timing – what increments (whole minute, six second, one second) are used to time (and bill) each call.

- Number of decimal digits used – the number of digits used to compute the billed cost of each call. (If only two digits are used, every call will cost an average of 1/2 cent more that you predicted.)

- Rounding – for each call cost calculation, is the result rounded to the nearest digit, given the number of digits used, or is it rounded up to the next highest digit. “Rounding up” can also cost as much as 1/2 cent per call more that you expected.

- Connected or System Time – the call timing may include dialing and ringing time (system time) or just the time connected to the dialed phone number. Using system time can add 18 – 30 seconds to the billed duration of each call.

The mathematical complexities of these variables are compounded by the fact that the representative of the broadcasting company you are considering may honestly not know exactly how they do this billing, or worse, may mislead you about their methods. The results of various combinations can be extremely surprising. These variables can have such a great effect that, for example, it would be easy to set up a 1.5 cents/minute plan that actually costs more than a 4 cents/minute plan.

Given the difficulty of predicting costs with this pricing method, here are some general guidelines about the types of broadcast campaigns that often can use per minute pricing cost-effectively:
- campaigns delivering a message to both live answered and voicemail numbers
- campaigns with a shorter than average (30 sec. or less) recorded message
- campaigns with a higher than average live answered response rate

Least Cost Solution

Unfortunately due to the billing complexities noted above, coupled with the different variables that are specific to your particular campaign and market, it is exceedingly difficult to accurately predict costs without actually running a test campaign.  Once you do that, probably the best way to protect yourself is to use a broadcaster that has simple reporting so that you can easily calculate costs for the alternative scenarios, based on your actual broadcast, and to also make sure up-front that your broadcaster will allow you to change your pricing scenario, without penalty, once you have done some testing.