Are small businesses really churning from search packages in droves surpassing 60 percent per year? That’s the contention of a recent report, and it has important implications (i.e., that the value-added reseller industry isn’t sustainable). To learn more, we talked with leaders from G5 Search Marketing, Marchex, Matchcraft, WebVisible and Yodle.
Highlights from our discussions have been issued in a client report for The Kelsey Group’s Interactive Local Media program. But all agree that the industry has been given a black eye by overly aggressive sales tactics and poor follow-up.
But they also report real progress in engaging their customers. And unless Google and others find a way to sell these accounts on their own — and they haven’t — these companies feel like they’re in good shape.
“At the end of the day,” notes WebVisible CMO Kevin Ryan, “what [advertisers] want to know is how many leads they got; the cost of media; how many people watched videos on their site; how many people got text messages. Actions that have a chance to turn into conversions are the true quantifiable return for the SMBs.”
Marchex President John Keister notes that churn is an issue, but the churn numbers decrease as advertisers “move up the transparency chain. Different advertisers will respond to different things,” says Keister. Ultimately, it is all about selling them “transparent” advertising that clearly bring in ROI. “They all want to see the transparent value. And that doesn’t always mean ‘clicks and search.’ ”
For Yodle CEO Court Cunningham, there is little doubt that value-added resellers like Yodle add value to SMBs. But only if they get a chance to be educated about the value they bring.
While churn rates are very high at first for the entire industry, after six months, Yodle’s churn rate is just 1 percent more per month, or 12 percent per year. By that point, it has had a chance to educate the customers, and they will have seen the value for themselves. “We’re dealing with a marketplace segment where 40 percent still don’t have a Web site,” he says.