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Is Service Magic misleading clients?

Reposted from Steve Teneriello's article, "Service Magic’s Dirty Little Exact Match Lead Generation Secret"

(Steve Teneriello, Februrary 22, 2012, "Service Magic’s Dirty Little Exact Match Lead Generation Secret" http://blog.theservicecoach.com/blog-0/bid/51256/Service-Magic-s-Dirty-Little-Exact-Match-Lead-Generation-Secre)

"Just recently I was working with one of my clients who happens to be an exact match lead generation customer of Service Magic and found some disturbing information as I was reviewing his presence on the major local search directories.  One of the things we do to help our clients at The Service Coach is create, manage and publish enhanced business listings on over 250 local search directories.  These sites include Google Places, Yahoo Local, Superpages.com and more.  Placing your business profile on these sites will help you generate organic leads as well as increased authority back to your website – helping you rank above your competitors in the search engines.  Submitting your site to 250 local search directories can take a good 45-60 hours depending on how much content you place in your listing. I have a Free Resource – the Local Search Playsheet listing the top 50 search directories and we will also perform this directory submission for you as a service.   In my opinion it is worth the time investment  - I have clients who see 20+ calls per month just from local search directories.  So over the course of a year a typical client in a metro market can potentially see 240+ leads just from this one strategy.  

What was disturbing to me is that I learned Service Magic charges a premium on these leads.  Anywhere from $22 - $55 for a service contractor to be part of the “exact match” club.  If your generating 100 calls per year that can take a serious dent out of your marketing budget and can be applied to other executions like paid search.   And let me be clear I’m not bashing Service Magic here – I was once a customer when I owned a contracting business and was partial with their service. If you do take part in this service you will see leads – there is no doubt about it. (You’ll just pay a premium and share those leads with others :)  However there is a better way for you to get the same result at an enhanced ROI.  Here’s what I have identified their model to be:

1. You receive a call tracking number owned by Service Magic:  When your listing appears on major local search directories your prospective customer will call direct into a Service Magic call center where they will qualify your lead and send the live transfer to your office.  By the way – I tested this out and found that if you ask the call taker for a number of estimates from multiple contractors they will not hesitate to give your information to others and STILL charge you for the premium exact match lead.

Local Search Directory Hijacking:  From what I have identified Service Magic places you in a limited number of major local search directories.  They will create a profile, use your business address, the call tracking number and your service magic landing page – so if you ever terminate service your listings would be inaccurate and you will never get the calls that you are optimized to receive.  In addition it will be extremely difficult to go back and modify or request that these pages be taken down.  Here is a partial list of local search directories where we have seen them place submissions:

  • Yellowpages.com
  • Superpages.com
  • Whitepages.com
  • Switchboard.com
  • Merchantcirlce.com
  • Insiderpages.com
  • Mojopages.com
  • Judysbook.com
  • Aol.com

3. Reviews:  You will notice, if you are an established Service Magic customer your landing page will contain customer reviews.  These reviews are indexed on the search engines and drive traffic to your Service Magic landing page – so you would be paying for leads that come in through people searching for customer review keywords or local search modifiers.  Service Magic aggregates reviews from like contractors and creates optimized landing pages where your profile is combined with others competing for the same business. 

A better strategy is to collect and publish your OWN reviews on your website so you own the content and are able to collect the organic traffic and leads that come from these reviews.

If you need some help or would like to get a local competitive assessment feel free to reach out and register for a 20-minute business development session where we will identify local search and lead generation opportunities along with outlining together a number of strategies that can help you push the lead generation needle for your service business."