Pay per call is a form of affiliate marketing where the affiliate is paid for live phone calls if they meet the requirements of the end buyer.

These requirements can be as simple as a consumer staying on the phone for 5 seconds, to staying on the phone for 3 minutes. Duration is the standard metric most affiliate networks will use to pay their affiliates for phone calls.

Pay per call marketing has been around since the newspaper and radio days, but in recent years with the popularity of the internet and mobile phones, it has been making a bit of a comeback.

Even though it’s been coming back quite strong, it’s hard to find much free information online about how to get started. Most of the pay per call guides are paid/outdated, or both.

Today I’m going to show you how to get started doing pay per call affiliate marketing with my basic guide. I refer to this as the basic guide because while this will give you a good starting point to learn the ropes, you can get far more advanced than this.

Disclaimer: By following this guide you are doing so at your own risk. I will not be financially liable for your actions in any way. This method requires you to spend money to make money. You may lose money. 

Basic Guide to Getting Started with Pay Per Call Affiliate Marketing


  • Server to upload landing pages to (I use Instapage for this task)
  • A domain
  • Google Ads Account
  • $3,000+ to spend on ads
  • Basic knowledge of HTML/CSS

UPDATE 2019: You basically need to use call tracking software in 2019 to be able to run call-only ads. There is a new policy that requires you to state the business name at the start of the phone call. Almost all call tracking software will allow you to do this with a custom recording. You can also use text-to-speech (not recommended).

Step 1: Apply for An Affiliate Network

There are a ton of different affiliate networks in the pay per call space. Some will focus on a particular vertical (insurance, finance, etc.), some will be ‘masters’ of all verticals, and some will be pretty heavy in the broker business.

You want to find an affiliate network that is as direct to the advertiser as they possibly can be. If you don’t locate the most direct offer, you won’t get paid as much as you deserve for the phone calls you generate.

A lot of networks will broker the offers that other networks have, and pay you less because they need some of that sweet, sweet margin too.

It’s pretty crazy you can find an offer at one network, then the same offer or something remarkably similar is at another network for double or more payout.

When you are just starting out, I suggest that you only work with 1 or 2 quality PPCall networks. If you spread yourself too thin over several networks, it could be a while before you get paid.

My #1 Recommended Pay Per Call Network

I’ve been working with Palo Media for a couple years now and haven’t ever had a problem. The people that work there are top notch and they have some of the best offers available in the market.

Why pick just 1 or 2 quality networks? Some networks have a minimum threshold to get paid, so if you have $400 earned at ten networks and they don’t pay until you make at least $500… you’ll have $4,000 earned, but you can’t access it.

Working with 1 or 2 quality networks will open yourself up to weekly payments (if you meet the minimum revenue requirements), which can help with your cash flow.

If you’re struggling to get accepted into an affiliate network, check out this guide I wrote for noobs to get accepted to any affiliate network. Just be honest on your application and show how motivated you are and you should get approved.

Step 2: Decide on What Type of Calls You Want to Generate

The next thing you want to do is decide what kind of phone calls you are going to generate. Calls can be generated in a lot of verticals, so it just depends what you’re interested in and if AdWords is viable for that particular niche.

I find that if I could be a potential buyer for a service, it’s easier to advertise than something I will never buy in my lifetime.

Do you own a home? Maybe you want to start by promoting home service type offers such as a plumber or electrician? See what I mean?

Whatever you do I’d suggest that you don’t find the highest payout offer and think you’re going to be a millionaire by next week.

Generally, the higher the payout an offer has, the more money you’re going to need to spend to get the data necessary to optimize your Google Ads campaign.

My recommendation here is to pick something that pays under $15. If you’re still stuck, here are five tips to choosing a pay per call offer that doesn’t suck.

Once you’ve decided on an offer, get your tracking phone number. If you aren’t sure how to do it then you can ask your affiliate manager. They’d be happy to help.

Step 3: Build a Basic Website

You don’t have to go too crazy here, as the users will never actually see your website/landing page.

Create the following pages on your website:

  • Home (add your unique tracking phone number you got in the previous step)
  • Contact Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use

The contact us, privacy policy, and terms of use pages don’t need any CSS styling; they need to exist.

pest control pay per call landing page

If you don’t know where to start, here is a pest control landing page you could edit to your needs and upload to your server.

I use Instapage to create my landing pages/websites. It’s a drag and drop landing page builder that makes creating web pages a breeze. I actually think Instapage is a godsend for advanced pay per call.

Note: Ringba is offering 200+ free pay per call landing pages for download here.

Step 4: Create Google Ads MCC Account + Spare Accounts

The first step to make sure you’re off on the right track with Google is to create a Google Ads manager account. I’m not going to go into detail about that here because I’ve already written something up about why this is an important step. 

Basically, you want to create an MCC account. From within the MCC, account create new Google Ads accounts for each vertical you’re going to promote (insurance, debt, etc.).

I’d suggest creating around 20 accounts when you first get started, so you have backups in case you accidentally get banned (doesn’t frequently happen with pay per call unless you’re in the risky verticals).

Step 5: Setup a Conversion Action in Your Google Ads Account

As your Google Ads campaign chugs along you aren’t going to want to keep bidding for short phone calls that don’t meet the conversion requirements (i.e., 2-minute duration).

So to make sure Google Ads only records conversions on the phone calls that meet the required duration you’re going to need a phone call conversion action.

Check out this guide to get one set up right now.

adwords conversion construction wizard

Step 6: Create Google Ads Extensions for Your Call-Only Ads

There are a total of 3 different types of ad extensions that are eligible to show with call only ads – location extensions, structured snippets, and callout extensions.

The callout extensions are the most important. Make sure you have at least 4 of them, but if you can make more than four you should.

Here is some more additional reading about the call-only ad extensions and how to add them.

adwords ad extensions for pay per call

Step 7: Add Negative Keywords to Your Google Ads Account

From inside of your Google Ads account, click “GO TO” in the header and type “Negative Keyword Lists.”

Create a new negative keyword list and add in the negative keywords you don’t want your ads to show for. Typical things you don’t want are people looking for jobs, popular sites like Amazon or Craigslist, people looking for driving directions, address, etc.

google ads negative keyword list

Many verticals will share some of the same negative keywords. It’s up to you how you organize everything. You can put all the keywords in just one list, or you can break them all up into different lists based on a common theme (i.e., words related to employment).

Don’t forget that you’re only going to advertise one vertical in this account, so you’d need to move the keyword list(s) to other accounts for other verticals.

Do note that each account has a maximum of 20 negative keyword lists and each list is limited to 5000 keywords.

Negative keywords are essential if you don’t have a huge budget. They can literally save you a ton of money. I generally will spend more time on negative keywords than on the actual keywords in the campaign.

Helpful sites for discovering negative keywords:

Step 8: Build Your Google Ads Campaign

Now it’s finally time to create your pay per call campaign from within the Google Ads interface. Go to the ‘Campaigns’ tab and then click the giant blue ‘+’ to create a new campaign.

AdWords seems to be testing different versions of the campaign creation screen, so your screen may look slightly different than mine.

Select the following options. Leave the last three checkboxes blank.

google ads campaign creation no goal


On the next page, you are going to want to uncheck the boxes for “Include Google search partners” and “Include Google Display Network.”

The more settings section was unchanged, but I expanded it so you can see.

This campaign is being set up assuming the offer accepts calls from all states. We enter all of the states individually because it will make your reporting easier to read when you have data in your campaign.

I don’t believe it’s necessary to exclude Canada and Mexico, but I do it anyway.

google ads targeting and audiences settings

For the budget per day, you can pick whatever you’re comfortable with. The smaller the budget, the more time it will take to get the data necessary to optimize your campaign.

I put the delivery method on accelerated, so I’m sure it spends the whole budget each day.

For the bidding strategy I like to use manual CPC, but I know other people who like to use Target CPA or other bidding options.

The ad schedule should be set to the times your offer accepts calls. Do note that most affiliate networks will list the offer hours using EST. So if you’re not in EST, you will have to convert the hours of operation to the time zone your account is in.

For the ad rotation settings, this is up to you. In recent months I’ve liked ‘Optimize: Prefer best performing ads,’ but I’ve also used ‘Do not optimize: Rotate ads evenly’ with success.

The ad rotation setting depends on what you’re doing. If you’re testing ad copy, it’s probably best if you select the option to rotate indefinitely, so your ads each get the same amount of impressions.

google ads pay per call bidding and budget

The final step in the Google Ads campaign creation process is to add the callout extensions you should have created above in step 6.

google adwords setup ad extensions call-only

Now you will create your ad groups and keywords. The idea here is that you’re grouping your keywords in a way that would make sense to show the same ads to all of the keywords.

If a particular keyword in an ad group doesn’t make complete sense with the ads in that ad group, it should probably be moved to a new ad group.

There are a million different keyword strategies that people use on the Google Ads platform. Some will only use exact match, some with mix the various match types together, and some may do something else.

For pay per call campaigns, I like to use broad match modified (BMM). The reason being is that people can type some pretty crazy search queries into Google from their mobile phone. If you think about it, you probably do too when you’re looking for something specific.

By using BMM, you can potentially get your ads to show more often than using say exact or phrase match. The beauty of BMM is that whatever keyword you put a ‘+’ in front of will be required to be in the searcher’s query.

Do note that if someone uses more than ten words in their query, your negative keyword list will be entirely ignored by the Google Ads algorithm.

If you are unsure about what types of keywords you should be targeting for your campaign, use a Google Ads spy tool. Not only can it help with keywords, but it can give you several ad copies other large advertisers are using with success.

In the example below, ‘reservation’ is required to be in the search query. ‘Flight’ is not required, but can still possibly be in the search query. Since ‘flight’ is a broad match instead of BMM, it could match for things like ‘airline,’ ‘delta airlines,’ etc.

google ads adgroups keywords pay per call

The above keyword would return queries like “delta airlines reservations,” “cancel airline reservation,” “is my flight reservation on time today,” etc.

When done creating your ad groups and keywords, click “Save and Continue.” You will be taken to a page to create ads, but it won’t allow you to create the call-only ads. So click “cancel” and then navigate to each ad group where you need to create ads and add them.

google ads create call only ad

Create your ads. Make sure you change the last dropdown from “calls from ads” to the conversion action we created earlier in step 5.

If you don’t change this setting Google Ads will count any phone call as a conversion. We don’t want this. We only want Google Ads to count the calls that meet our minimum duration as a conversion.

Note: Call-Only ads still charged per click, not per call. Generally, you can expect around 50% of your clicks to not result in a phone call. google ads call only ads

There is no hard number for how many ads each ad group should have. However, I generally like to make sure there are at least three ads per ad group.

The final step in the campaign creation process is to attach the negative keyword list you created earlier to your campaign.

To do this, click on ‘keywords’ on the left sidebar, then ‘negative keywords’ at the top. Select the list(s) you want to use and click ‘save.’

pay per call add negative keywords list

Step 9: Wait for Approval from Google Ads

Approval can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of days. Usually, it takes just a few hours, and you’re approved.

Unless you set a specific start date in the campaign creation process, your campaign will start right away after being approved.

Step 10: Monitor Campaign and Make Adjustments as Needed

Until you get a fully optimized campaign, it won’t just be set and forget it. You need to monitor the search queries people use that click on your ads.

google ads search queries report

The search queries aren’t updated in real-time. So you probably need to do this once a day for the previous day’s clicks.

If you notice any pattern, like people looking for a job, you probably want to add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing for those types of queries.

Don’t add negative keywords too fast unless you are confident the quality of traffic is terrible. Sometimes you’ll be surprised what kinds of keywords drive the most conversions.


This basic guide to getting started with pay per call affiliate marketing should help you get a campaign up and running.

If you have any questions, or if any part of the guide isn’t clear to you, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll reply. You can also check my $57k pay per call case study to see the complete thought process from start to end.

    33 replies to "Basic Guide to Getting Started with Pay Per Call Affiliate Marketing"

    • Eddie Mullen

      Hey Nick,

      Awesome guide! Really appreciate it.

      You said that each vertical should have its own ad account.

      I have a brandable domain that would work well in the emergency home service niche. If I wanted to get into say 10 different niches on this one domain should I have them all in one ad account?



      • nick


        I’d separate each niche on their own domain and each niche in their own ad account. The performance of niche A could be significantly different than niche B. Niche A could perform worse than necessary if the account quality score is lower caused by niche B’s performance.

        – Nick

    • Ciaran

      Hey Nick,

      Thanks for making the guide!

      Quick question:
      On average, how many calls turn into good chargeable calls?

      I’ve heard a few numbers thrown around before and i’m trying to narrow the range.

      Would you say 1 in every 3 calls from your ad is chargeable? More/less?


      • nick

        Hey Ciaran,

        My pleasure to provide a guide like this!

        To answer your question, I’d say on average you can expect about 30% to turn into a billable phone call. Of course, this is highly dependent on the quality of your traffic and the performance of the call center. I’ve had duration based campaigns convert as high as 90% and as low as 5%. Honestly, there is really a lot that can affect these numbers (IVR or not, how aggressive the agents are, etc.)

        – Nick

    • Roy

      Hi Nick

      Can you help me in getting airline specific booking calls just like you mentioned in your example above .
      if yes,please revert,how it will be done . Waiting for your response .


      • nick


        I may release a case study soon all about the flight booking niche, but I’m not 100% sure if I’ll release it (I can’t make up my mind). Subscribe to my email list and you’ll be one of the first to know if/when it’s available.

        The flight booking niche is tricky on AdWords because Google doesn’t like it. Your account will most likely get suspended if you run it.

        Sorry I can’t help you more right now.

        – Nick

    • Slipknot

      Hi Nick
      first of all thanks for this amazing guide !
      as a newbie in ppc, i want to know which niche’s are risky and can get my account banned easily on adwords according to you ,so that i would stay away from those niche’s in starting phase
      and which niche’s are easy to run on adwords and can make profit !

      • nick

        The main niches that will almost always get you banned are tech support and travel. Student loan consolidation can be sketchy, but it’s possible to not get banned.

        I can’t tell you what niches are easy to run. What I think is easy could be impossible for you. It depends on your skill set and knowledge about particular niches if you will be successful.

    • Samuek

      How many keywords are best to use in a campaign?

      • nick

        Hi Samuek,

        I don’t think there is a set number of keywords you should aim for in your campaign. I’ve had campaigns that were highly profitable with less than 10 keywords and other campaigns that needed well over 100 keywords.

        You kind of need to test and find out what works best for you. I generally like to spend a ton of time building up a negative keyword list, then bidding broad, or BMM to discover keywords. This can be costly, which is why it’s important to spend a lot of time building out a negative keyword list. As your campaign runs, keep an eye on your search terms report and add negatives as you see fit.

        – Nick

    • Sol

      Nick have you ever tried to run pay per call on Facebook?

      • nick

        Yes, of course.

        It’s not as straight forward as promoting it with Google Ads because there is far less user intent, but it’s possible. I haven’t had much success with thier “call now” ads though. Instead, I capture their information and outbound dial the lead info to turn them into an inbound call.

    • EZ E

      Hi Nick,

      Great guide! Appreciate you taking the time to put this together.

      Do you have any good resources for legal/compliance considerations when it comes to lead-gen and pay-per-call? I have found plenty of info on how to set up these type of campaigns, but not much info about how to make sure that you are generating leads in a compliant manner.

      • nick

        Thanks EZ E!

        I don’t really have any resources for legal/compliance for any sort of affiliate marketing. I’m not a lawyer and if I post anything then people would take it as legal advice when it’s not.

        If you’re going to be collecting leads for pay per call then you probably want to look into TCPA.

        Sorry, I can’t help more.


    • Frank

      Why is travel something google ads doesn’t like? I plan to open a cruise based travel agency (been in the industry for over 10 years) so this caught my attention. Thanks!

      • nick

        Hi Frank,

        It’s not that Google absolutely hates travel, but there are quite a few borderline scams in that vertical. You can read more about that in this travel case study.

        I’ve had clients in the vacation rental industry and had no problems with account bans/disapproved ads.

    • Jordan

      Amazing resource my man. As a newbie it’s usually pretty difficult to get something as comprehensive as this without a pay wall. I use Google Ads already, it was a relief to see that I’m set-up correctly for Pay Per Call. I will be bookmarking you and checking you out from time to time. Peace.

      • nick


        Glad you liked it. If you have any questions you know where to find me 😉


    • Christian

      Hi nick
      This is a well info packed article, thank for this.

      As a newbie, what if I wanted to run two different verticals, do I run them from the same website using two different landing pages or actually have different domains and landing pages hosted for each vertical.

      • nick


        It’s not clear what you’re talking about.

        If you’re running 2 verticals, but they fit on the same site (ie. debt and credit) then the same account would be ok.

        I think what you’re asking is if you should use the same domain with 2 different verticals. I wouldn’t; you want separate, relevant domains for each vertical because they show in your ads. I also wouldn’t run ads in the same Google Ads account.


    • Elijah

      Hi Nick!

      This is a jump packed article. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to make this awesome piece of informative content.

      I have some few questions for you.

      1.) What Call Tracking should I use as a beginner? Invoca or Ringba?
      2.) How do you Connect GA + Call Tracking + Facebook Pixel altogether and manage it under GTM? (The Goal is to have one dashboard for monitoring conversions.)

      Thanks in advance!

      • nick

        Hi Elijah,

        1. I’d use Ringba these days. Invoca is expensive and much more than what you’re going to need IMO.

        2. Unfortunately, this is quite complex and is way more than I’m willing to explain in a comment. Sorry.


    • Juan

      Hi Nick,

      You are a blessing for helping us, specially the newbies.

      One question. Can I set up my pay per call business from any country, or being outside of the US represents any disadvantage?

      Thanks in advance

      • nick

        Hey Juan,

        You can set up your pay per call business from any country, but I think you may be at a slight disadvantage, particularly if you’re on the other side of the world. The reason being is you probably won’t be working in the middle of the night when the US is active, which could lead to your offer getting capped, disabled, etc. and you wouldn’t be able to redirect the calls elsewhere. Some networks are probably less likely to want to work with you if you’re from a country that’s typically known for fraud, but it’s not impossible either.


        • Juan

          Hi Nick,

          Addressing the my same query, I am in Nicaragua, same continent, and time is pretty similar. So, I shouldn’t face too many issues, right?

          • nick

            Not sure to be honest. If you have any sort of history with any affiliate networks that should help you out to get approved at new networks.

            • Juan


              Last question: Do you offer consultation per hour? I would like to be one hour with you on the line. It can be Skype of Zoom. We can discuss price and I would be needing 1 hour every other week only to polish some doubts.

              Let me know

              • nick

                I’ve sent you an email. 😉

                • Juan

                  Nick, I could not find your email. What date you sent it?

                  • nick

                    I sent it on Sept 8th. If you can’t find it check your spam folder. If there’s nothing there then you can email: me {at} nicklenihan {dot} com

    • dan

      is facebook call only ads good enough to promote calls?

      • nick

        Hi Dan,

        I know only a few people that have been able to get the Facebook call-only ads working profitably. Most people I know (including myself) have had more success sending users to a landing page/lead form on a website and going from there… either collecting data in a form and outbound dialing or calling directly from the landing page.

        Hope that helps.


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