Lack of Ad Visibility Another SMB Churn Factor

One of the things that I have neglected to focus on in the churn discussion is the challenge of “finding the ad.” Many SMBs simply cannot find/see their ads. This has been problem historically for small businesses and online advertising and I’ve not spoken about it at all. What reminded me was this post, discussing the Borrell churn study, on the Efficient Frontier blog:

Often frustrations from local businesses stemmed from one key statement: “I get the bills but I can’t even find my ad.” I see the lack of predictable visibility in search as a key factor driving the high churn (50%+) Borrell identifies in SMB search marketing.

Why does predictable visibility matter in search marketing, a marketing channel where we can report on the clicks and transactions that occur directly associating ROI? … [S]mall businesses are left to look and see if their ad is running as tangible evidence that their investment has value. With its complex algorithms that determine rank, search often does not produce proof of an ad to the marketer searching for it. Local marketers used to seeing their ad in the yellow pages, newspapers, and local television cannot access a similar experience in search.

I wouldn’t say it’s 50%+ of the problem but it’s a big problem that needs to be addressed. But as the author writes dynamic processes play peekaboo with SMB ads on search engine results. Other than showing screenshots of SERPs it’s not clear how to address the issue of enabling the SMB to see the ad “working.”

Any thoughts?

5 Responses to “Lack of Ad Visibility Another SMB Churn Factor”

  1. Ric P. Says:

    I think that ultimately there are two criteria for a successful SMB marketing program: performance and the perception of performance, with the second being more important, but unsustainable without the first. The perception of performance is even more important to the SMB because they don’t usually have the marketing background to backstop the direct results with indirect benefits.

    For the SMB, performance ultimately boils down to cold hard sales, not analytics and detailed spreadsheets. But in order to connect sales to campaigns is going to take time and attentiveness by the SMB. When the SMB won’t spend the time to contribute to the performance measurements that will reassure her or him, the program is doomed to lapse.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    But the SMB’s reluctance or failure to participate is a common problem. How do you remedy that?

  3. Ric P. Says:

    Yeah, big problem! especially since a big reason that the SMB marketing field is so open is because they aren’t naturally “marketers.”

    1) Be more selective in the first place about who is signed up.
    2) continue to develop toolsets that reach further down the conversion path.
    3) Focus more on single verticals where it becomes cost effective to develop data pumping API’s for the vertical’s communication standards, that will allow them to automate more of the tracking.

    That would deliver more information, but it still requires the SMB to want to be involved.

  4. Jeff Werner Says:

    Ric is right, it rarely matters when the SMB is seeing quantitative return in terms of leads. When the SMB can’t find their ad on the selected keywords, there are dozens of reasons why it can occur even while the campaign is performing well. In these cases, reluctance to participate is a challenge… and rightly so, they hire SEM experts to take care of the behind-the-scenes detail and simply expect their ad to appear.

    Clearly presented reporting that goes well beyond the ‘click’ (actions like calls, page/map/coupon prints, emails, etc.) goes a long way. And developing a relationship with the SMB that starts with some basic education, setting proper expectations and providing quality ongoing customer support is key.

  5. Stream o’ consciousness for June 24th | Mike Orren Says:

    […] Lack of Ad Visibility Another SMB Churn Factor — 1:24pm via Google […]

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