BtoB to incorporate click-to-call

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In a pioneering move for an online media site, is teaming up with eStara to provide its visitors with a click-to-call feature that enables them to directly connect to a product manufacturer’s customer service representative—by telephone—with a click of a button. The feature is scheduled to debut Dec. 1.

“[People] purchasing products over $1,000 often want to speak with a real live person before making that kind of financial commitment,” said Jason Young, president of Ziff Davis Media’s consumer/small-business unit. “The recent trend has been to shun telephone communication in favor of quick Web purchasing, often leaving the buyer unsatisfied by the level of service.”

PC Magazine’s Web site has long offered price comparison and purchase options next to editorially driven product reviews. With the click-to-call feature, visitors can research a specific product and then move one step closer to a purchase by speaking with a company representative. At the same time, the company representative is given a direct opportunity to convert that lead into a sale.

“This is one of those rare opportunities for an online publisher to give a great service to its readers that’s a great service to the advertisers as well,” Young said. At a time when lead generation is a top demand from advertisers and a differentiator for online b-to-b publishers, he said it was a strategic value for Ziff Davis to be the first to deploy click-to-call in the b-to-b media space.

PC Magazine is still working on the pricing of these highly qualified leads. “It will take a while for the economic model to work out,” Young said. “If a click is worth $150, what's a phone call [worth]?” Technology companies including Toshiba U.S. and Lenovo have already signed on as advertisers, he said.

Click-to-call may have even greater usefulness for b-to-b purchasers than consumers because business product and service prices are often incrementally higher than consumer prices and buying cycles are longer, Young said. “B-to-b buyers are not going to make a $300,000 purchase directly on line,” he said. “They want to talk to someone.”

From a technical standpoint, click-to-call users can choose either VoiP or regular phone service. A pop-up will ask them to pick the connection they want. The service will then connect the shopper with a company’s designated customer service rep or phone center by ringing the phone at each end.

“Our readers are early adopters who are always the first to embrace and utilize the latest technologies,” Young explained. “We were among the first out of the gate with RSS feeds, podcasts and webcasts, as well as our recently launched virtual trade shows. The PC Magazine brand will continue to grow by incorporating the latest and best technologies in our own offerings.”
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