The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

Summary: It's almost noon and I've received four political robocalls and hour since working hours began. Why do the robots call? There appears to be a return on investment there.

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It's almost noon and I've received four political robocalls an hour since working hours began. Why do the robots call? There appears to be a return on investment there.

Don't laugh. You must be thinking: "What moron would vote based on a robo call?" It's not about the vote rate as much as it is reaching some fool that will listen.

Pew Research in 2008 did some robocall research. It found that 81 percent of likely caucus voters in Iowa received a pre-recorded campaign call from your friendly neighborhood robot. In New Hampshire, 68 percent of likely voters in 2008 got a robocall. In Iowa, 44 percent of folks hung up. In New Hampshire, 46 percent usually hung up.

However, 35 percent of Iowa likely voters in 2008 usually listened. In New Hampshire, 19 percent usually listened.

A more recent survey had similar findings. In other words, robocalling is a lot like spam. You cast a wide net and if you hook a few dummies you have a solid return on your investment.

While academics may think those hit rates stink, they actually are pretty good. Why? Robocalls cost near nothing.

Do a Google on robocall services and you get a screen like this:

As you can see Google must be pretty damn happy about robocall text links.

But if you actually click on these sponsored links you see why robocalls are the plague that keeps giving. Let's take the pricing of VoiceShot, which provides you with a do it yourself online call center. VoiceShot will charge you 12 cents for a successful call.

What's a successful call? A successful call is any fool that stays on the line for 60 seconds. So let's say you do 1 million robocalls. Of those calls, 300,000 jokers listen in for a minute. You just reached 300,000 for $36,000. Why wouldn't you do robocalls?

And VoiceShot isn't even the cheapest robocall service.

A company called Homeytel will do robocalls for you at less than a penny a call. Hell, anyone could do a robocall at those rates just to gripe about robocalls. Homeytel's pitch goes like this:

WHAT DO DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS, LIBERTARIANS, AND THE TEA PARTY HAVE IN COMMON? They all use HomeyTel  voice broadcasting. Why? Because we offer the very best service plus you can exactly budget your campaigns. We have found that a 15-30 second message is more effective than a 60 second message, if the message is clear and timely. Short messages simply deliver more bang for the buck and if your voter list is clean you will realize substantial savings over a per minute usage charge. Most voter lists reach 70-90%.

NEW LOWER RATES! Due to higher usage we have been able to negotiate lower rates and we are passing the savings onto our customers.  Thank you loyal customers!

OUR MOST POPULAR PACKAGE NOW LOWER THAN EVER! 100,000 calls live and answering machine, 30-second message, 3 attempts, and up to 3 free campaigns for $1,695.00. (Add $25.00 setup for each campaign over three.  Add 10% for each 3 second increment over 30 seconds.)

Add it up and it's obvious why robocalls keep happening. It's cheap. And you may just be successful. Now this robocall ROI equation may change if all you have is a cell phone, but for now the low costs add up for pols.

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50 comments
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  • They don't work.

    Hi,

    Green and Gerber (Yale) have studied political robocalls and they don't work.

    More http://www.stoppoliticalcalls.org/ht/d/sp/i/23650/pid/23650

    Shaun Dakin
    StopPoliticalCalls.org
    sdakin@...
    • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

      @sdakin@... understood, but it's cheap enough that those fools will keep trying. Can't be worse than those mailings we get and don't look at.
      Larry Dignan
      • RE: ...those mailings we get and don't look at.

        @Larry Dignan

        Do you mean those glossy and expensive mailings paid for by special interest money that I consign to the trash compactor???? Such environmental waste!!!!

        I know, we should insist on an `environmental impact charge` to be imposed on political campaigns that do not use re-cyclable materials in their mailings. OH, and make it VERY high on ALL political parties.
        fatman65535
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        I use my answering machine to screen calls, too. The downside, if I understand the article, is that even though the robo call talks while my greeting is played I am considered one of the successful calls.
        raimu koyo asu
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        I screen all my calls. Have been doing that for the last 3 years. Now I don't get robo calls or sales calls. Best phone move is to screen the message before picking up the phone.
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        Microsoft halts Zune HD Originals orders: Microsoft officials still have not said definitively
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        whether Microsoft is planning to drop the Zune media player line. But over the weekend, Microsoft
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        did announce its cessation of its Zune HD Originals line. (The Originals were customized Zune HDs,
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        orderable directly from Microsoft.) According to a message on the Zune Originals site, Microsoft is
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        Windows Phone, Zune devices and PCs, which continues to expand,? the site says.
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        So much for that crazy rumor that Microsoft might make good on its own executives? promise and
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        deliver one more version of its Zune HD player . Looks to me like the Softies have decided users
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        who want a small-form-factor media player from Microsoft are going to have to use their Windows Phones.
        Linux Love
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        @Larry Dignan is why it's ok for Microsoft to sue other companies for patent infringement but not ok for other companies to sue Microsoft for the same types of patent infringement. Considering you didn't say that and Donnie didn't say what you asserted, I guess we should read into your post as much as you read into his.
        Arabalar
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        @Larry Dignan You ridicule MS for not "comming out with things people want" or make jokes about the products they do, and yet you turn around an claim that these people fired are "just victims"?
        So what you are comming straight out to say is that MS should keep the people that put out products that nobody wants to buy, right?
        I am basing this on all of your past, and recent posts, so tell us why MS should keep people around that you claim have failed the company?
        Arabalar
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        @Larry Dignan Yeah, people love to repeat that "competition is good for users" mantra but it's not true when half of the players in a given market are phoning it in (so to speak.) The half-baked crap being dumped into the market by most of these companies will actually hurt users when they get suckered into buying them. At this point, there are only one or two phones I'd want to own. If there were indeed true competition, with a batch of companies truly trying to compete, not just dumping beta products into the bargain bins in the hopes of snagging the profits of 2-year contracts, then the consumer would benefit. As it stands, not so much.
        Arabalar
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        Robocalls will end when people are so poor they no longer have phones to receive robocalls, which may be sooner than later thanks to these politicians. <a href="http://organiclotiononline.com">organic lotions</a>
        tryagain23
    • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

      @sdakin@...

      ahh... they might work. robocalls from the candidate i last voted for increased my dislike for him. but this might not be the result desired by the candidate.
      BitBanger_USA
      • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

        @BitBanger_USA So why not robocall seemingly from one candidate when you actually want to drive votes to another? The pitch could be deliberately weak or ill judged (you might know quite a bit about the likely recipient of the call based on their whereabouts).

        Given how cheap it is, you could do this - especially if it happens "at arms length" with a little "deniability".
        Jeremy-UK
    • RE: The ROI of robocalls and why the bots keep calling

      @sdakin@... <br><br>Not from where I am standing. As a proud owner of a robocalling service, I put out over 1 million calls the week before the past elections. I looked at the results of every call blast. 80% of the calls I put out were answered and listened in its entirety. Who are you going to believe, some guys from Yale who don't own a robocall company, or someone who does? I would be happy to post my metrics.<br><br>@SavedbyGrace...<br>All you have to do is call your county Board of Elections and ask to have your number removed from your voter registration information card. It's that simple. However, if your number is already on a list sold to a local campaigner, it may take a few years before you are completely void of the process.<br><br>The writer of this article is 100% correct. Robocalls are here to stay because they are cheaper than the glossy literature that gets mailed to your house. It is also a more effective marketing tool. The literature I receive during election season goes straight into my recycling bin. How much did that cost a campaign to produce? How effective was the response? I think it is somewhere near the 3-5% mark. So it costs over $1 per piece of literature or a 3 cent robocall call?<br><br>In more rural/less populous states, these calls will be phased out because there isn't a need to make such an impact on a population. However, in more populated states like New York, campaigns couldn't survive without robocalls. The average City Council race in Long Island covers about 50,000 constituents easily. How does it make sense to spend campaign dollars? Therefore you see many less populous states proposing anti-robocall legislation than more populous. After all, most of those politicians are going to be customers.<br><br>Also, the gripers and the complainers may have a large voice on the Internet, but their actions of not voting for a candidate because they were rudely interrupted at dinner time, is less than 1% and marginal at best. As an active voter myself, am I really not going to vote for someone because they bothered me for 30 seconds? No. I will vote on his/her campaign platform. 1 out of 2 people don't vote in this country anyways. Does it really matter that Joe the Plumber didn't vote? Not with those figures. It has been my experience that the complainer doesn't vote, hasn't voted, or won't vote. In most cases, they registered for one election a long time ago and forgot about it.<br><br>What Mr. Dakin fails to mention is that he is a proponent of doing away with robocalls completely. That means Amber Alerts, Emergency notifications (tornado warnings), and even finding your lost pet. I find value in each of those uses because I might be a customer of each of them someday. <br><br>Instant Call Blast does provide political calling, but there are more robocall uses out that are beneficial to humankind and it would be unfair to lump them all together.

      Anthony Morelle
      President
      Instant Call Blast
      instantcallblast