Borrell Associates has just put out a fascinating report (sponsored by Clickable; can be obtained from their site or Borrell directly). The report quantifies Local SEM churn, which I’ve also been writing about on this blog for some time. It starts to get at some segmentation and best practices for sales channels that are selling search-related products to local SMBs.
As I wrote at SEL this morning:
Google just completed its now annual local reseller symposium. A terrific event last year, I was unable to attend this year but heard from one attendee that there were many fewer resellers there than a year ago. Print yellow pages, newspapers, webhosting firms, stand-alone local sales channels (e.g., ReachLocal, Yodle) and a range of others comprise the the local reseller category. They’re all selling small businesses (SMBs) into search marketing. Whether a function of the economy or for some other reason, the lowered attendance may be a metaphor for the challenges that “Local SEM” now faces.
In October, 2004 I wrote a report entitled “SEM for SMEs: The Model Has Arrived.” That document proclaimed that a then “guaranteed clicks” product provided by WebVisible to yellow pages partners would enable:
- Large numbers of small businesses to buy search marketing in a simplified way
- Enable yellow pages to become the gateway to online marketing (on search engines) for their advertisers
- Allow Google (et al.) to tap the massive SMB market through third party sales channels, avoiding the need for direct outreach to this elusive advertiser population
In contrast to my happy proclamation in 2004, the road for Local SEM has been rocky. On my blog Screenwerk I’ve been writing for the past couple of years about the high churn rates for these products and other challenges. Here’s a representative excerpt from September, 2008:
[W]e’re now in a kind of “purgatory,” where the “old” methods aren’t working as well (they still work in many instances however) and the “new” methods aren’t delivering as promised. It’s a problem for everyone.
Read the rest of this post on SEL.