On Search Engine Land today, Greg Sterling unpacks a new Borrell Associates report that, if you had to explain it one sentence, says this: Small businesses that try local online advertising almost universally give up after six months. The actual stats Greg quotes are:
- Up to 50 percent [of SMBs] quit by 90 days
- Up to 90 percent quit within 6 months
Important: We’re talking about small businesses that buy their local advertising from various resellers like yellow pages companies and other local advertising companies.
Let’s Cut to the Chase
We can go on and on about the need to reach small businesses and the need to educate them and the need to make things simple … but here’s the real reason all these small businesses are bailing on their online advertising:
The product they’re being sold sucks, and doesn’t have any measurable ROI.
Seriously, if the product was any good and the small businesses were making money, would they all quit after six months? Of course not. The Wall Street Journal talks a bit about the product here:
“…the resellers are charging local advertisers based on how many thousands of clicks they can drive to their Web sites. But those clicks are often worthless if they aren’t from the right kinds of customers.”
Bingo. The resellers are selling “guaranteed clicks.” I wrote Why Click Guarantees Suck back in August ’06, when this blog had about 12 readers. There’s a real life story in there of what happened when a small business owner bought a “local online advertising” package from the yellow pages, was promised a certain number of clicks in one year, and then called to cancel when those clicks never arrived.
If you read that, you’ll know why so many small business owners give up on these local advertising plans. They’re being sold a bill of goods.