Introducing the CPD (Cost Per Dialogue) Model



Cost-per-dialogue (CPD), also known as pay-per-dialogue (PPD) or cost-per-discussion (CPD), is an internet advertising model used to direct consumer/buyer search engine traffic into live chat or chatbot dialogue. In the CPD model an advertiser pays a fee when an ad is clicked and results in chat dialogue.  The chat can occur between a consumer/buyer/searcher and a salesperson, between a consumer/buyers/searcher and a chat bot, or a combination thereof.

The concept of cost-per-dialogue (CPD) was proposed in 2015 by software engineer and marketer Lief Larson while working for Engage, Inc.  Larson was seeking a solution to the challenges faced by today’s salespeople who desire to introduce their personality, experiential knowledge, and personal selling skills in real-time to today’s digital customer.  Larson knew that salespeople have financial outcomes tied directly to their ability to communicate and sell to customers and that salespeople would invest to talk instantly with prospects at the earliest point possible when the prospect signaled buying intent.  Larson recognized the earliest indicator of buying intent occurred via keyword entry into search engines, the primary starting point for consumers/buyers when beginning pre-purchase due diligence.

CPD and PPD are often used interchangeably within sales, marketing and advertising communities. PPD is used to describe the type of advertising program you are running. CPD, which stands for cost-per-dialogue (or sometimes price-per-discussion), is usually used in communicating what price you are paying per dialogue within your sales/advertising/marketing program.

CPD rates can vary wildly based on many variables, including: industry, geography, type of goods and services for sale, granularity of focus, competition, specific search engine, and more.  For example, the average CPD for a consumer using a search engine to find a generic “Caribbean Cruise” may cost the salesperson $11.42 per dialogue.  Whereas, the CPD rate for “VA Mortgage Chicago” may cost just $7.13.

The salesperson or their organization only pays for dialogues that occur, which minimizes upfront financial risks of underperforming advertising campaigns, such as buying advertising on a CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) basis.  The principle performance metric in the CPD model is the DTS (dialogue-to-sale) conversion ratio.  That is, what percentage of dialogues result in booked sales.  This can then be compared against existing CPA (cost-per-acquisition) investments via other sales/marketing/advertising techniques employed by the organization.  That in turn will inform the decision whether the CPD model is viable, competitive against other competing sales channels, and provides adequate ROI (return-on-investment).

Typically CPD rates are higher than traditional CPC (cost-per-click) rates.  Reasons include the fact that lead capture and sales conversion rates with dialogues are usually much higher than with mere clicks alone and thus command premium dollars.  Conversion rates can be influenced by the time-to-response to consumer interest (immediacy), more thorough intervention of consumer needs and questions, as well other intangible velocity vectors such as creating personal rapport and likeability with the consumer, or the ability to overcome objections in-dialogue (read: personal selling skills), which are harder to quantify but nevertheless inherent factors in the dialogue model overall performance improvement.  In short, speed combined with reduced sales friction (read: sales velocity) has warranted markedly higher CPD rates.