Local Business Leads: Quality, Conversion and ROI – Interview with ReachLocal CEO Sharon Rowlands

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sharon Rowlands, CEO at ReachLocal, to discuss the importance of local marketing for small business, how to generate more local business leads and, more importantly convert those leads to actual sales. One of the factors we discussed is how to not only generate effective business leads, but determine the value of qualified leads versus the quantity of leads you are receiving.

ReachLocal is a digital marketing company that serves the small business market by providing high quality lead generation at an affordable cost per lead. According to Sharon, when a customer engages ReachLocal, ReachLocal’s first priority is to discover what the businesses needs are and what their goals are so they can set expectations for their online marketing and lead generation.  To support that, ReachLocal provides a number of tools to help the local small business get better leads and create higher conversion so they see a positive ROI.

One such product is ReachEdge – a total digital marketing platform that allows you to see the performance of all of your digital marketing spending in one place. From your organic website to your Facebook page and ads, its all your digital marketing efforts in one place and a full review of the effectiveness of those efforts.

I also asked Sharon about a recent Wall Street Journal article that outlined small business dissatisfaction with online advertising and local lead generation.

See Sharon’s response by watching the full interview below, or click HERE to watch.

How are you collecting leads to capture the local market? Are your leads converting? Let us know in the comments below what has been working for you or where you struggle with lead generation and local marketing.

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About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com & Infusionsoft. Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

  • Guest 1

    You missed a good opportunity to ask why ReachLocal considers duplicate calls, not connected, calls, and calls lasting less than 5 seconds as leads when Sharon started out the conversation talking about the importance of quality leads. If that is the case why report to clients grossly miscalculated lead costs?

    When Sharon discussed the importance of having the correct budget she talks about the high cost of important keywords which convert better essentially indicating that without the appropriate budget a business owner should not expect good results. I would agree with this, however why then does ReachLocal spend so much money on directories, minor search engines, and content networks? (Is it possible cheap clicks artificially lower the overall cost per click reported to the advertiser?) Alternatively with all the data ReachLocal has regarding the appropriate budget small businesses need, why would the company take on accounts with budgets it knows will not produce good results?

    I give you credit for bringing up the recent bad press however it seemed like more of a simple PR opportunity for ReachLocal than a journalist interviewing the CEO of a company with well known within the industry if not well publicized problems. I was looking forward to seeing your interview but left disappointed by the format and questions.

    • http://Smallbiztechnology.com/ Ramon Ray

      “Guest 1″ – THANK YOU so much for taking the time to write in and share. I appreciate it. I will hope to do better next time. Yes, I did ask the question, but MOST of the time, I try to take interviews like this at face value. The WSJ aired – one side of the issues that have been reported and I wanted to hear the OTHER side (Reach Local) which Sharon addressed. Now you have given your input as well – so I appreciate that. It’s an open discussion and let’s see how Reach Local might do better and better in the coming weeks to address your concerns?

      ***

      PS – curious? want to know more about Ramon? visit http://www.ramonray.com
      Ramon Ray
      Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com

      Small Business Evangelist, Infusionsoft

      Publisher, Smart Hustle Magazine – http://www.smarthustle.com

      Host, 3TechGuys – http://www.3techguys.com

      Tweet me – @ramonray

  • AJK

    Hi,
    just an FYI to the previous post about what is considered a lead, ReachLocal’s client performance reporting offers the ability to filter by unique calls and length of calls so you can get a clear view of “true” leads based on the goals of the particular business. Everything is pretty transparent once you learn how set the filters in the reporting (pretty easy) to whatever the business owner considers a lead. Also…why would you rule out short calls…often that just means a qualified customer called after hours or when no one was available to answer the phone. If you follow up you will often find they are a legitimate lead. counting them out just because they are short isn’t always sensible. :)

    • http://Smallbiztechnology.com/ Ramon Ray

      AJK – thanks for your “short call…” insight – I love it!

    • Guest 1

      The client log in area can be useful however most business owner don’t log in, you can check this by running a report that shows how often users log in and what they do when logged in. It is also worth noting that the unique call filtering you mention only filters out duplicate calls on the same day, so when a current customer or potential lead programs the tracking number as the business phone line or writes that number down for future use it is logged as a lead over and over.

      With such easy to use filters why would RL default to considering every call a lead? When a call less than 5 seconds or not connected at all is there a benefit to the business owner? I would agree that leads could come in after hours when no one is able to answer the phone however if that is the case why is the ad running in the first place? Search engines allow day parting to avoid wasting money when no one is there to capture the lead.

      ReachLocal provides a benefit to small business owners who don’t want to manage their own pay per click campaigns. If you are going to try ReachLocal the following questions may be helpful. (Ramon i’d be curious to hear your stance on these)

      1) Will you bid on my name? Can branded traffic be parsed out from non branded traffic?
      2) What search engines will my ad show up on? (Will my ad’s be on the content network? If so how much of my traffic is from each publisher?)
      3) What is your standard negative keyword list? Do you create industry/geographic specific negative keyword lists?
      4) When will my ad be shown? What if we don’t answer calls on the weekend?

      • http://Smallbiztechnology.com/ Ramon Ray

        These are great points and I think for this full discussion we need a 2 hour audio or fact to face show!!! Hard to judge pro or con counting a sub 5 second call just in this thread – know what I mean? I think it is something to CONSIDER and glad we are VOICING IT!

        ***

        PS – curious? want to know more about Ramon? visit http://www.ramonray.com
        Ramon Ray
        Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com

        Small Business Evangelist, Infusionsoft

        Publisher, Smart Hustle Magazine – http://www.smarthustle.com

        Host, 3TechGuys – http://www.3techguys.com

        Tweet me – @ramonray