Pay Per Callers Show - Alex Elperin, CEO and CoFounder of Avenge Digital

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Learn how Avenge Digital owns the Pay Per Call Auto market with CEO and Co-Founder Alex Elperin.

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Show Notes
  • Marketing is learning from your mistakes!
  • Don’t accept Pre-Pay for payment terms!
  • When you’re starting out in Pay Per Call, every dollar counts.
  • Ringba facilitates client introductions for Pay Per Call Buyers and Sellers.
  • Build a network of Buyers you can trust!
  • Auto Insurance Customer Journey:
    • Customer conducts a search for “Auto Insurance” or related term and dials from a click-to-call ad.
    • Qualified using a Phone Tree (or IVR) for customer intent, zip code, and existing insurer.
    • Routed to Buyer (insurance agent, carrier, or broker).
  • Opportunity in Auto Insurance: Past experience and contacts, high call volume and scalable, recession-proof and evergreen.
  • Being able to access independent agents, agencies and carriers provides massive growth opportunity.
  • Team members with industry experience help to effectively manage capacity and compliance
  • Make capacity and compliance management part of daily routine!
  • Working with independent Buyers provide many benefits.
  • Networks do a massive amount of Business Development.
  • Independent agents can provide immediate and direct feedback.
  • Build long-term relationships with your Buyers.
  • When buying ads, you will lose money. Be patient!
  • Seek feedback on your call traffic. It will help you run better campaigns and improve quality!
  • Provide guidance to your partners to help them convert more calls!
  • Quality assurance and feedback is crucial to running successful campaigns!
  • Networks want to see Examples, Landing Pages, References and Past Experience.
  • Networks will perform QA on your calls to ensure you are sending quality traffic.
  • Transparency, relationships and communication is essential to success in Pay Per Call.
  • If you are not transparent, often you will not even get through the door.
  • Networks want to work with you, but not if you aren’t transparent or don’t communicate.
  • Account Managers live and breathe to communicate with Publishers and Buyers.
  • If you are sending bad calls, Networks will know.
  • Opportunities in Pay Per Call: Auto Insurance, Health Insurance (Open Enrollment), Traffic from SMS / Text.
  • Advice for Affiliates: Pick a vertical you are passionate about, enjoy doing and want to do for the long term.
  • Advice for Affiliates: Work with a network you can trust and growth with.

About Avenge Digital
Avenge Digital is a full service marketing agency with a strong focus in the fast growing call space. Using 20+ years of online marketing, insurance, media industry experience and contacts to work to find publishers to drive high quality calls for your offer.

Avenge Digital Icon.png

Avenge Digital also provides buyer connections if you are a high volume internet marketer or affiliate. In fact Avenge is already one of the top buyers of auto insurance calls in the US.
Website: http://avengedigital.com

About Alex Elperin
Alex Elperin is the CEO and CoFounder of Avenge Digital, a Performance Marketing agency headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexelperin

Episode Transcript

Adam Young:
Welcome to the Pay Per Caller Show. My name is Adam Young, the founder of Ringba, and today we have special guest, Alex Elperin, the CEO and co-founder of Avenge Digital. They're a rapidly growing company that is specifically focused on lead generation and pay per call. In fact, they're hiring more business development professionals with insurance experience now. Alex has more than 10 years of experience in the lead generation and pay per call space, and they're located in Seattle, Washington. Thank you so for much joining us today.

Alex Elperin:
Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it.

Adam Young:
So let's rewind for a moment and I'd like to hear about how you got started in the performance marketing industry.

Alex Elperin:
Sure. So it all kind of started with a sales job I had with a company called HouseValues which, I believe, at this point-- they were sold maybe three or four times to, I believe, Trulia now. I started there as a sales rep and didn't know anything about the lead gen industry and kind of fell in love with it immediately. I think the thing that I fell in love with was just kind of the intangible, selling the dream and an opportunity for someone to-- back then, to be able to connect to a consumer that's selling their house or buying a house, right? I thought that was really cool and, especially early on in my career, I thought this was kind of the new thing and it was just incredible. So worked there for a couple of years. After leaving from there, kind of worked a couple of different jobs. And then, I believe in 2007, I started at a company called QuoteWizard, was one of the first folks there and held many different roles. But started out doing agent sales, was kind of building up that department, and then held kind of a few different jobs. And worked there for about eight years and towards the end of my tenure there, I started noticing this new thing, kind of like a lead 2.0 and people started talking about it. I'd been hearing about calls for warm transfers for quite some time but was click-to-call. So I was curious, what is click-to-call? What does this actually mean? You can click right on your phone and get connected to a consumer. It was still fairly new. And was actually introduced to Justin Elenberg which I think a lot of people in this space got started with Justin Elenberg and his shows that he has on YouTube. So I owe a lot to that guy. I fell in love with the industry and just kind of saw that a lot of people, they have their cell phones and this is kind of becoming a thing and it's here to stick around. It's not going anywhere.

So, at that time, I actually had a-- I worked with Justin a little bit and tried to kind of figure out which way to go and how to build this up. So he gave me a lot of instruction there. And, at that point, I actually had a buddy more or less in the industry. He was actually in the insurance space. And we were talking for quite some time and he said, "Hey, I think I have a little bit experience in the insurance space so I know kind of how to talk to these people. I have a little bit experience in building some software. Let's see if we can make a go of it." So, at that point, parted ways with QuoteWizard and we started a company at that point which is Ring Router. Some of you may know or not know. So we were doing well there and, more or less, had a little bit of falling out. So back in 2015, parted ways and started Avenge Digital with one of my closest friends and we've kind of been doing it ever since. So that's kind of the long and short of it but that's how we got started.

Adam Young:
And I think that's the cool thing about the digital marketing space. A lot of people start as an account manager, an employee in the space, and then realize that there's really nothing holding them back from starting their own business, even if it's just a single affiliate or, maybe like you, you had a partner and you guys did it together. I started in the space the same way, as an individual affiliate almost 15 years ago and then realizes just almost like the digital gold rush and it's not going anywhere and there's a lot of opportunity for people to start their own businesses and build something of tangible value here. So, on a side note, I noticed, in your kid's drawing there, it looks like your actual logo. Did your kid draw the logo [laughter]?

Alex Elperin:
Yeah. She's really creative. So, yeah, she kind of did a lot of stuff on here. She came up with some of our taglines and she created a whole cartoon sketch here and it's pretty cool.

Adam Young:
Very cool. Very cool. So what did the early days of your business look like? What did it feel like when it was just you and your partner starting out on your own?

Alex Elperin:
It was very cold in the garage [laughter]. Winters in Washington, we don't get a lot of snow, but we get a lot of rain. And when you're sitting for eight hours in a garage that's not insulated, it gets very, very cold. So we have pictures of my business partner and I with full parkas, with big hats, and the gloves that you can kind of move the fingers off of. So we would, in between, kind of throw them on when we're not typing. But it was great though. We loved kind of building something from the ground up. It was a very exciting times. When we got our first yes or two, we celebrated. And it's always exciting. And we always knew kind of where we wanted to go. We didn't know how long it would take to get there. But, yeah, we're really excited to kind of be what we are now. We've grown a little faster than we anticipated. We're on our third office at this point which is a good thing. We've outgrown the first two, so that's exciting. But, yeah, the early days like that, they were cold. We made a lot of mistakes. We learned from those mistakes. We're still making mistakes.

Adam Young:
And I think that's what marketing is, is just perpetual mistakes and learning from them-- or any business really. Anyone who claims to have the whole thing down before they start is crazy. That doesn't exist.

Alex Elperin:
Yep.

Adam Young:
So what were some of the most painful lessons that you learned early on in business?

Alex Elperin:
Oh, man. Don't prepay someone for months [laughter]. That was a big one. We had a guy that-- it was interesting. You get a bad feeling but you still kind of push it because you want to get that traffic. And we had a guy that was showing us, he was like, "Yeah, we're a legit marketing company and we've been doing this for many years," and for some reason he was showing me pictures of his office, how cool his office was and I was like, "That's cool, I don't really care, a lot of our affiliates that are really good work out of their garage, so we care less." But he was like, "Yeah, we're legit, all is good." Prepaid 5,000 bucks and that was it.

Adam Young:
Zero calls?

Alex Elperin:
Zero calls.

Adam Young:
Oh, man.

Alex Elperin:
Zero anything. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So that was definitely a pain point, especially when you're first starting out and every dollar counts. Losing five grand off the top was tough. It was a tough pill to swallow for sure.

Adam Young:
That's a serious risk that anyone comes-- that coming into the affiliate space or pay per call space really has to deal with and it's hard to get around. It's one of the reasons why we facilitate so many introductions between our clients and partners because at least we know, then, that there's at least a little bit of accountability and reputation and can try and prevent some of those things. But that's really tough when starting out. I think a really important lesson that people need to understand, not prepaying, working with people through referral, and making sure that they have the right partners because every little bit of capital is so critical when you're starting. That hit must've felt like a kick in the balls.

Alex Elperin:
Yeah. 100%. Yep. I think what's been really helpful is to build up a network of folks that you really trust. Anthony and Eric that you've had on the show and Justin, we all kind of talk between one another and if there's a pub that seems a little fishy or something just doesn't smell right, we trust one another to say, "Hey, man, we're in the same [inaudible] all good, but have you worked with this person? What are your thoughts on this person?" And we move on from that point. Because there are a lot of - I don't know, what'd I call them? - shady people in this industry. They do like to pre-charge and run, and they like to send bad calls and run, and they just want to make a quick buck and get out. So that's definitely an important lesson.

Adam Young:
So walk me through what the customer journey is like on an auto-insurance phone call?

Alex Elperin:
Sure. Sure. So we have some of our own traffic. We also work through publishers. And predominantly we purchase and generate click-to-call. So the way that those actually work is a consumer would go online on Google on their phone, right, and they would type in auto-insurance. They would see a click-to-call ad, they would click on that ad, and, essentially, go through our phone tree, right? On our phone tree, they would be triaged, essentially, so they would answer a few questions, validating intent, essentially. We also want to make sure that we get their zip code because area code's kind of a tough thing since most people are on their cell phone right now, so we get that information. Then we also want to see, if they are insured, what company are they currently insured with because we don't want to send the person to the same carrier they're currently insured with since price are the same. Once they type in all that information, we, essentially, send them over to the carrier or the individual agent. And then the individual agent, essentially, takes it from there.

Adam Young:
Why did you choose the insurance industry and the subsegment of auto-insurance specifically?

Alex Elperin:
I think the biggest reason was because of my experience at the lead gen company I spoke to about earlier and I had a good amount of context there. So that was kind of an easy start for us. Also, it's an industry that's scalable. It's not going anywhere. It's an industry that's recession-proof. And I really like the model of being able to have agents on one side and have corporate carriers as a backfill on the other. I think a lot of publishers like auto-insurance. So it kind of goes in many different directions, the insurance industry. But there's a lot of space there for new guys, essentially, to come in.

Adam Young:
And those same reasons are very applicable to affiliates in publishers too, recession-proof, large-volume, government-licensed monopoly, not going anywhere, and that means they can build sustainable campaigns on it without spinning plates and redoing everything every couple weeks. And so you can build a real business as an affiliate or publisher just in the auto-insurance space, right?

Alex Elperin:
Exactly right. Yep. Definitely.

Adam Young:
So how do you manage your capacity and backend across all those buyers and micro buyers?

Alex Elperin:
It's interesting. It's definitely something that we have to work through on a daily basis. We're lucky enough to have some really great folks that work here. We have folks that have worked at large media companies to people that have worked at networks, some lead gen folks. So all of these people kind of coming together and sharing their experiences helps us build this company. As far as managing capacity, I think we, as I mentioned before, the agent piece is huge because the more agents you have, the more capacity you have. At this point, we can't give them enough calls, right? So that's something that we're always looking for. When it comes to the corporate carriers that we work with, just managing capacity is just kind of a normal, daily thing. So whether it's caps that we have to put in place with folks or budgets or whatever it may be, that's something that we kind of have to manage more or less on a daily basis. But I think where our network is possibly a little different than some of the other folks is we don't necessarily have a one-to-one relationship in our auto-insurance vertical. The way that we work is when publishers send us calls, it could, essentially, go to one of many buyers that we have. And with the agents and the corporate carriers that we have on board, it can literally go to one of thousands of different folks. So when folks send to us, on the auto-insurance side, they don't really have to worry about capping out or, "Hey, I'm going to run this for two days and then they're going to tell me to stop," which are some of the issues that we ran to in the past with some other networks that we used to work with when we started out. So I think that's definitely a big plus.

Adam Young:
Well, and not only that but working with all the independent buyers gives you guys a lot more options for direct feedback. You have a lot of different people that you're communicating with on a regular basis. And that means you also are generating higher payouts because you have the smaller, independent shops. And so there's a lot of benefits to working with you guys as opposed to just trying to find their own direct buyers. And I think that's something that's unique to the pay per call space. A normal affiliate network doesn't necessarily provide a ton of value except accelerated payments. But, in the pay per call space, a network like yours is doing a ton of business development, managing hundreds or thousands of independent agents to create this national network that affiliates can drive calls into. And there's some extreme value there. It's not just brokering or taking a margin. You guys are providing the actual backend for your affiliates which I think is a really big deal.

Alex Elperin:
Yeah. Exactly right. Yeah. And then something to touch on, you were talking about how we manage our quality. Definitely, with having agents on board, we get that feedback immediately whereas some of the larger carriers, they can take a couple of months to give you any information. So as we get that feedback, we can talk directly to the pub and say, "Hey, they mentioned people are consistently looking for a specific carrier. Is there something we can do to change that up?" Because, ultimately, what we want to do is develop a long-standing relationship and, with a lot of our publishers that we work with, that's exactly what we have, to make sure that everyone makes money. And, ultimately, if your earnings per call is where they need to be, a lot of times, they don't need to jump ship, right? They don't need to go looking for other folks. So that's kind of our goal.

Adam Young:
So when a new publisher gets into the auto-insurance space, what are some of the lessons that you've learned that could help them avoid wasting money or making mistakes?

Alex Elperin:
Yeah. I think the first thing is when you're doing anything on Google, is, right away, you're probably going to lose money. We call it kind of the cook time, right? And I think anyone that's doing this knows that when you fire up an ad, you're going to lose money. There's no doubt about it. Unless you've been doing this for 20 years, you're definitely going to lose money. But, once you give it a little bit of that cook time, things start turning around. So I think patience is something that a lot of newer affiliates possibly don't have. The ones that stick around are the ones that obviously have patience. And having some money behind you is definitely a plus because there's only so many folks that can withstand losing $5,000 during the course of a month or more. That's definitely some of the lessons that we've learned early on. And then making sure that you are getting feedback on your traffic, on whether it's working out for the folks that you're sending it to because we had a guy that was driving great traffic to us initially and then, all of a sudden, we started getting a bunch of roadside assistance calls. And we couldn't figure out what was going on. Ended up started bidding on AAA, most people know AAA by the roadside assistance. So just kind of that back and forth feedback loop, I think, is crucial to have with any network that you work with.

Adam Young:
And you guys over there, if you're working with a publisher and they have questions about keywords or traffic sources or if something's going to work or not work or they want to try something new, I have no doubt that you guys are very open to providing expertise and guidance to your partners.

Alex Elperin:
Exactly right. Yes. So the two folks that kind of manage that side of it, Tera and Stacey, they're very good at their job. They've been both doing it for quite some time. And that feedback is definitely crucial and important. They are more than happy to give that.

Adam Young:
So what's your quality assurance process actually look like? And what's the hardest thing you have to deal with when it comes to QA?

Alex Elperin:
I think quality assurance is definitely something that we're kind of sticklers on. So when new folks jump on, especially if they're inexperienced and-- everyone says they're driving from Google, right? Every single publisher is driving from Google. But only a very small percentage of folks are actually driving from Google. So we'd like to see landing pages. We'd like to see examples. If possible, we'd like to see references. Also, when we start out, if we talk to some additional folks in the industry, as I mentioned earlier, that's really important. And then I think just kind of when they first start out, keeping them at a low cap, right? At least for the first little while until you get a case for what their calls are like. We also allow agents on our network to return calls if the quality is bad, meaning if they're paying, let's say, for someone that has no DUIs, somehow a person snuck through, they can return those calls. Sometimes those same agents will hedge your stuff, right? Calls that shouldn't necessarily go to those kinds of lines. So they're the first ones to tell us those things as well. But, yeah, no, I would say listening to calls is a big thing, making sure the [creatives?] are in line is big, and constant communication with a publisher is important.

Adam Young:
And I think that a lot of affiliates aren't used to that. We see people transitioning from the normal CPA space into pay per call and they're not used to having these really good direct relationships with their account managers and talking through all the details on these campaigns. But, in my experience, it's imperative to do that because your people are going to have really great expertise in these specific verticals and they're willing to help publishers. And one of the biggest mistakes I see is that publishers go and they try and create a relationship with a network and then don't want to be transparent about what they're doing which isn't going to work. And it's one of the biggest reasons that affiliates don't get replies from account managers or don't get access to networks like yours, simply because they don't want to tell people what they're doing. And that may fly in some verticals of affiliate, but it's just not going to work in pay per call. And so it's crazy, some of the stuff I see. But when I see a new affiliate that goes to a network and they tell them, "This is what I want to do. This is my experience. Here's where I've had success before even if it's not in pay per call. And I really want to communicate and work with you guys." Almost 100% of the time, all the pay-per-call networks will work with these people. But, for some reason, and this is why I'm saying it, affiliates don't want to communicate. And that's something that has to change in our industry and it has to change for new people that come into it or they're not going to be successful.

Alex Elperin:
Exactly. Yeah. I think having full transparency's super important and just kind of working through the flow, right, of what's working for you and what's not working for you. And our account managers, that's their job, that's what-- they live and breathe that kind of stuff. So if there's something that you need to change, if it's something with the IDR process, if it's-- God, you want to run different hours, anything like that, communication is crucial. Because, ultimately, this stuff comes out. If you're doing something you shouldn't be doing, it will come out, whether it's now or whether it's a couple of weeks down the line. But telling your account manager exactly what you're doing, I think, is incredibly important.

Adam Young:
So how does Avenge Digital use technology and what role does it play in your business?

Alex Elperin:
So we actually built our own in-house technology. So it's based on Twilio. And all of our agents use our technology. The publishers, they have access to our technology. The buyers have access to our technology. So depending on the needs of specific clients, we've custom built that kind of stuff as well. So it's definitely something that helps us out on a daily basis, also, to make sure that we're optimizing things the way that we're supposed to be. Doing this for a couple of years, you kind of learn what are some of the things you need, what are some of the things that you don't need, and that's kind of one of the biggest reasons that we've built our own technology. Initially, we were going to do Invoca and, while Invoca was great at one point, I think they have changed a little bit from what they used to do and-- sorry for anyone using Invoca because they're awesome. But outside of that, we needed some additional features they just didn't provide. And we probably didn't need 90% of the stuff that they did provide. So that's kind of why we built our own.

Adam Young:
Makes complete sense. And what are some of the biggest opportunities that you see in pay per call right now, at this very moment?

Alex Elperin:
Oh, man. I mean, auto-insurance is still absolutely huge. I mean, right at this second, obviously, with open enrollment, health is big. I think a lot of people are coming to us and starting to talk about some additional ways to drive traffic. Text seems like that's coming up quite a bit. So I think that's a big opportunity there as well. I think, ultimately, it doesn't matter what vertical you're jumping into. Some have a high payout. Some have a low payout. I think it's something that you need to be passionate about, and it's something that you enjoy doing, and something you want to do for the long-term because of the flexibility that being a pay per call marketer allows you, then that's something that you should probably get hooked up with a good network and start out with them.

Adam Young:
And how do you think your business will change over the next few years?

Alex Elperin:
Oh, man. That's a tough question. We have some lofty goals. I think we'll probably start adding in some additional stuff to our business, possibly the texting piece, maybe also jumping a little more into the leads and clicks side of the business because we do have a good amount of agents on our network and they are demanding some additional-- whether it's calls or leads or whatever it may be. So I think as we get bigger, we're going to involve possibly into some of those things as well.

Adam Young:
Amazing. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. If people want to do business with Avenge Digital, how can they get a hold of you?

Alex Elperin:
Just go to AvengeDigital.com. I think at the very top it says, "Are you a publisher?" Feel free to click that and fill out the short form and we will be getting contact with you.

Adam Young:
Well, thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate your time.

Alex Elperin:
Thanks so much. Have a good one.


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#2
Go to know about your network Alex.I am Impressed.

My name is Abbas Jaffery and I am in this internet marketing business for more then 8 years now and I know every single Online promotion method Specially I am expert in Google adwords and Socail.I also have a call center of 150 seats located in Pakistan.I am very much experienced in this Pay Per call Marketing.I would Like to work with you as a publisher.Let me know How to work with you.

Thanks

Abbas jaffery
 
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