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There were a few comments on one of our recent blog postings about the importance of tracking your yellow pages ads. A few of the comments begged the question: Why hire Blue Corona to track your yellow page ads when the yellow pages will do it for you for a nominal fee?
Many of you had unique situations, so we felt it best to offer each of you an individual response.
However, looking over some recent client reports reminds us that we really need to put up a generalized response to everyone, so here goes:
To start, it is difficult for us to imagine any business owner that has had extensive interactions with the yellow pages, trusting them to accurately measure and track the calls that originate from ads in their book.
If 10 calls originated from your yellow page ads and 9 of those calls were from robots or campaign auto-dialers, do you think that the yellow pages would identify this or would they report that you got 10 calls? I’ll save you the research – they report that as 10 calls (some reports even refer to the calls as “events” or “leads”).
Things like this are very common in the classic yellow page sales game – which typically goes something like this:
Sales Rep: Mr. customer, how many sales calls do you currently receive per day?
Customer: about 20.
Sales Rep: What percentage of them do you think your sales ace closes?
Customer: Maybe 60-75%. Johnny sales guy is pretty effective.
Sales Rep: How much revenue do you generate from a typical sale?
Customer: About $100.
Sales Rep: Perfect, buy this ad for $500 and your phone will ring off the hook!
Flash forward 6 months to a year when it is time for the sales rep (likely a different person – few yellow page sales reps stick around for long) to re-up your ad…
Sales Rep: Well Mr. Customer, how did our product work? My reports show that you got lots of calls – 20 on average per month.
Customer: Really? Johnny sales rep hardly ever mentioned your product as being responsible for delivery a lead or a sale?
Sales Rep: Well, look at our reports – see all these calls? You said that Johnny was closing on average 60-75% of them – that’s a lot of new business we generated for you!
Customer: Well, I guess…
Sales Rep: Also – this is not counting the people we drove to your website via your on-line ad with us. Your sales person probably said, “how did you hear about us?” and the customer said “your website.” What your sales rep didn’t ask is how they got to your website. We see this all the time. Our book works!
Customer: Okay – what do you suggest I do this year?
Obviously, most customers are far more demanding than our fictitious customer above. And most yellow pages sales reps are (slightly) more sophisticated, but you get the point. The ad sales reps focus on revenue (not profit) and total calls (not quality). They want to sell you MORE advertising and few have the integrity to walk away from a potential commission. If there is any glimmer of hope that their product might work for you, you’re getting sold hard.
Next – who hasn’t had an issue pertaining to accuracy with the yellow pages? Again, any client we know that has had extensive interactions with yellow page companies has experienced a plethora of errors. From billing errors to ad text mistakes; call tracking numbers routed to the wrong #; and everything in between.
When it comes to measuring and tracking – accuracy is a MUST.
Someone once told us that a huge part of being successful in business is simply “acting like you give a sh*t.”
That’s a pretty crass statement, but one that we find incredibly accurate when you consider how widespread poor customer service has become. While there are some great yellow pages sales reps out there, there seem to be far more that could care less about an individual client’s business. Most sales reps care more about making a quick commission and what their life will be like tomorrow than they do about the long term success of their client’s business.
Now for a real example:
We are looking at a report from yellowpages.com for one of our clients. The report is for May 2008. The client has NO print ad, but a “PLL” in their category on yellowpages.com (if you buy yellowpages.com, you probably know what a PLL is – they’ve got more acronyms that you can shake a stick at).
The Scoreboard report from yellowpages.com breaks down like this:
Click Ratio: 9.41%
Total Events: 37
Monthly Calls: 12
Calls Answered: 11
Calls Unanswered: 1
Average Call Length: 2:51
One reaction to this report might be:
Wow – that’s pretty good! This client closes approximately 80% of close-able sales calls. They got 12 calls, let’s say 10 were close-able – so that’s 5 new sales! It’s hard to say what happened as a result of the 37 web events, but this client gets a lot of sales from their website – so let’s say 1/2 went to the website and 10% went on to become customers – that’s another ~2 sales.
This is the picture often painted by the yellow page reports and their sales reps (for obvious reasons).
Here’s the unfortunate reality:
Blue Corona’s reports for the same time period and the same ad also show 11 calls. But all of them were from auto-dialers and robots except 1 which was an existing customer calling for a routine issue. Ten people went from the ad to our client’s website, but they did nothing of value when they arrived (a call, inquiry or sale). Our software ensures that the same tracking phone number used in our client’s yellowpages.com ad, carries over to the website when a visitor links from the yellowpages.com ad to the client’s website. This eliminates a significant hole in the net that yellow page sales reps often use to exaggerate the value of their product.
Think about how you might react given only the yellow page Scorecard vs. the Blue Corona scorecard…
1/2/2009 – We found his blog post which does a nice job of framing the Yellow Page situation. Nice to know that it’s not just us that feels so strongly about Yellow Page advertising!
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