The Persistence of the SMB Churn Problem

We took a moment to sit down with Kevin Szypula, CEO of Ferocious Media, and ask his opinion on the SMB Churn problem. Kevin shares information such as, what makes Ferocious Media different from other SEM companies.

“Customer Churn at SEM Agencies is a big issue facing the Local SEM industry. It effects all SEM agencies, as the long-term decisions that the major search engines make on who sells their inventory will be based on the experience SMBs have with resellers. it is however, common knowledge the “Self Service” (business owners that run their own accounts themselves) churn rate for SMB’s is too high also. This means there is huge opportunity.

Many of the comments and excuses regarding SMB Account Churn are focused on sales training and perhaps sales rep knowledge. While I agree this is an important piece of the equation, I strongly believe a bigger factor in the churn is the way the accounts are setup by some of the “Mega” players in the industry. The days of setting up a basic account structure and letting it run by itself are way over.

Many of the giant resellers are setup to input accounts in mass and with very little flexibility and customization (due to API constraints, labor costs and thirst for huge profits). Local ads are placed on networks where they don’t belong and are more along the lines of “branding” than search. The goal of these Mega-resellers is to be sure to spend the clients’ money, regardless of where the best inventory of traffic is.

The key ingredients to a successful local SEM (i.e. Adwords / MSN) campaign are:

Setting the right expectations (yes – this is where training and sales come in).

Creating multiple campaigns for each account (Local Targeting, Geo-Modified Terms, Site-Links, Branding, Mobile, PC etc).

Within each campaign should be tightly formed ad groups, each with multiple text ads that are relevant to the group.

Exhaustive lists of Negative keywords should be formed to prevent irrelevant clicks and drive up the very important Click Through Rate on the account.

Local area codes should be used for call tracking. There is empirical data showing a significant lift in using local numbers vs a toll free line.

Broad Match keyword terms should be kept to a minimum. An overuse of Broad Match keywords on a local campaign is disastrous and amateur. The majority of keywords in a local campaign should be Broad Match Modified (BMM) or Phrase Match. The proportion is dependent on the budget and target area. The larger the budget and target area… the greater the use of BMM keywords.

MAINTENANCE is key. There is no algorithm, secret sauce, program, invention or computer that can properly maintain a PPC account. While these tools (at least the real ones) are useful, they should not replace real human maintenance and common sense.

While this is a short list of what goes into a successful SEM account (and none of them are real trade secrets, it’s just hard work), if the agency you are using (or working for) cuts all the corners… the results are going to be less than what they should be. While you may be getting acceptable results in some cases with these companies… the results will be better with the basics above covered.

Make sure you know your rights when working with ANY company, agency, yellow page company or person that sells ANYTHING on Google (Surprise – they need to tell you exactly how much was spent on Google AdWords)”:

Kevin Szypula
CEO/Ferocious Media


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