Yodle, ReachLocal, Yext – Scams?

There are some people who think so. I can see why – but they’re not. Still, they’ve got issues, which I’m going to explore here…

I was reading a series of comments regarding Yext over at Local SEO Guide, and think they are bringing up some interesting points. People are discussing Yext specifically, but a lot of this carries over to all the big venture funded companies attempting to sell online marketing services to small businesses. (Yodle, Reachlocal, and others. I’d say some of Yelp’s recent problems are related to this.)

What’s Happening?

All of the companies I just mentioned have a bunch of negative reviews floating around online. Very frequently it sounds like this fictional story:

I was cold-called by “Rachel” at “insert company name here.” She said that they could send me lots of great phone leads from local customers. I would only pay for the actual calls, and could try it at no risk! Sounded great, so I signed up. They sent me 10 phone calls, but none of them were very good, I didn’t get any sales. I cancelled the service, but then they billed my credit card for $200! It was a battle to get rid of the charge. Plus now their phone number shows up instead of mine on Google.

A Scam?

It’s not that Yext is a scam, although they do have some problems. The bigger issue is that there’s a communication and expectations gap when it comes to these big marketing companies and the businesses they’re serving.

There are a host of issues that go into this, but some of the important ones are:

  • True non-referral or repeat business is more expensive to acquire than many small businesses realize.
  • Yext, Yodle, etc. all have lots of venture dollars and high attrition rates. The only way to hit their targets is to aggressively acquire new customers.
  • There are a lot of channels available for marketing online. It can get complex, and is often not explained well enough to the business owner (even assuming the salesperson really understands what they’re selling).

The Cost of New Business

One of the complaints seen in regards to companies such as Yext is that the leads are too expensive, or don’t convert well enough, compared to existing leads. This can be legitimate, but it also may be that the business is underestimating the true cost of acquiring a new customer. Many businesses do not do a good job of separating out returning customers, or referrals, from the average Yellow Pages call. This both lowers the true cost of a new lead, and the value of a new customer.

I am not saying that all the phone calls being sent to businesses are good. Another problem is that not all of these companies have good feedback mechanisms from their clients. For effective lead generation, the company driving leads needs insight into the true value of those leads to the business. This is generally lacking – even if there’s a feedback mechanism, not all business owners will use it.

In addition to the above problems, many companies are horrible at dealing with Internet leads. If they come in by email, there’s a tendency to think they are not urgent – even though conversion rates rapidly decline over time. If they come in by phone, there are two potential problems:

  • Some calls come in after hours. Small companies generally don’t answer their phone late in the evening. It’s amazing how difficult some people are to reach when you miss their call – and even if you reach them, they may have already chosen someone else.
  • Some calls are largely informational. A few questions are answered and the caller goes away forever. These are inherently less valuable calls – but can be made much more useful by simply asking when a purchase decision might be made, and if it’s alright for the company to follow up at that time.

Aggressive Marketing

Almost all the complaints you see regarding the Yexts of the world start with a cold call. These companies are hiring small armies of salespeople. They have lots of money (raising well into 8 figures each, although I think there’s some consensus they’ll need more to reach all their potential clients) and a complicated service that benefits from direct contact, so it’s not surprising that cold calling/visits is the best method. Check out the career listings at ReachLocal to see what I’m talking about.

The problem seems to largely stem from the fact that most of these salespeople are working for a commission, and business owners are hesitant to commit their money to an untested venue/provider. Therefore, the pitch is all about bringing in no-risk leads. There’s not enough education about what the service really is, and perhaps over-promotion of money back guarantees. The leads don’t turn out as good as implied… the business owner is mad… and the provider is faced with more people looking for refunds than is really reasonable, because they think they’re providing a good service.

Complexity

So you’ve got all the above going on. There would be problems regardless, and then you throw in the complexity of the online marketing landscape. Different companies have different strategies, but many are using a combination of paid search, free and paid directory/local listings, and even possibly getting some traffic via organic search.

Questions about who owns the website, whose phone number goes in the directories, whether paid search bidding will include branded keywords, etc are significant questions. However, they are complicated to discuss, which is going to make it harder to get businesses on-board, and possibly increase admin costs. The result is that they are often glossed over – or explained, but not sufficiently for a person new to online marketing. In the end, a company ends its relationship, but sees that directories all over the web are plastered with the now-defunct tracking phone number (a great reason to own your tracking number, if possible).

The Solution

I don’t have a solution for Yext, ReachLocal, or Yodle. They’re pursuing a huge, potentially lucrative market, and have lots of people working at that. I really think that what they are doing is difficult, and they will struggle to run profitable businesses without any complaints. Maybe the real answer is for everyone to use a local online marketing consultant – but this has issues as well (including a lack of standards, and a difficulty in serving clients with very limited budgets).

On the other hand, I think there are real solutions for the business owners out there. The absolute key is to educate yourself regarding online marketing. You’re surely used to being a jack of all trades. Getting a basic understanding of online marketing will take some time, but this is the future of your business, and it’s not that hard. There’s a wealth of resources available online.

Once you know what’s going on, ask real questions. What websites will the leads being sold to you come from? What will be driving traffic to these websites? How much of the money you’re spending will go directly into paid advertising? Then the only other thing you can do is try it. Allocate a budget, large enough to get a real sample, and dip your toe into the water. My online marketing guide might help.

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About Chris Piepho

Chris is the founder of Small Business Shift. You can learn more about him here. If you would like to work with Chris, please get in touch.

74 Responses to “Yodle, ReachLocal, Yext – Scams?”

  1. Will Scott April 22, 2010 at 3:27 am #

    I think you make some good points here about the challenges of an aggressive sales organization and unsophisticated prospects and technically unsophisticated sales people.

    I’ve read a lot of those negative comments as well and I think the biggest issue is one of expectation setting at the time of sale. Clearly there’s a disconnect between a salesperson’s incentive package and full disclosure.

    I think one of the marks of a serious search marketer is to make a limited number of promises. Invariably if you promise too much you’ll disappoint.

    I think your list could go on and on. The common denominator seems to be the cold-call and some would say cold-calling to sell search marketing products is wrong on its face, but there’s a good argument (recently seen on Aaron Wall’s blog) that many who need the service don’t know it until the phone rings.

    Don’t get me wrong, we’ve never done as well cold-calling as by word of mouth but it’s an issue. I readily admit I’m better at building the systems than working the phone or managing those who do.

    Another big issue is when the sales machine gets out in front of the production capability. I think we saw this with Yelp. With over 100 sales and marketing folks and only 40ish in engineering and quality assurance it’s hard to argue that product quality is the leading priority.

    I’m sure there were some overly aggressive sales people who saw short-term dollars ahead of long-term customer value but that’s a given in a commissioned sales environment.

    Caveat emptor for sure but any time there’s a significant number of sales, some of the buyers are going to get less than they hoped.

    • chris April 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks for the comment.

      I agree, the cold-calling is a big part of the problem. It seems that most search marketers do best through referrals, and you can see why – then you’re working with someone who probably has more trust in you and enough interest in the services you provide to seek them out. But like you mention, there are many business owners that will never get started this way.

    • John June 19, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

      Spread the word to all your friends. yext is a scam, don’t get involved.

      • Ryan July 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

        Yext provides a service that enables local businesses to get internet presence.

      • Roy Creamer December 10, 2011 at 11:20 am #

        yext works FAR better for my money than yodle… yext screens all the bs call out for you.

      • Cary Michael Cox March 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

        Can you explain how it’s a scam?

      • DH April 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

        Yext IS a scam. The site says it will give you a review of all the places your business is listed (or not listed). It is written to make you think it is FREE to get all of these listings. Only the scan is free . . . and totally worthless. Most companies know who they have paid for what services and which online sites they are on. This is nothing more than a way to get you to give them information that they then SELL to marketers.

        How do I know this? Not TEN MINUTES after I cancelled the transaction (after giving them my info and finding out there is nothing free about these listings, which I already knew) I got a sales call from Yext. He was not happy when I told him to bug off and if he sold my info to anyone I would trace it back to his company and sue the crap out of them. (As a former legal assistant I have the means to make good on this threat.)

        This is just another scam to get information to sell to telemarketers…nothing more.

        • tom September 9, 2012 at 9:43 am #

          lol your a f***king idiot. as a former legal assistant you have means to sue them lol lol lol wow so what did you clean the lawyers toliet. bfg as a human being in the world everyone has the means to sue anybody them like. I’m thinking like everyone else on her actually i’m sure your story is total bs and actaully i’m tired so post again how you plan on tracing them selling your info. Your a fing idiot

          • Love it October 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

            Hahah I concur!

  2. Ken Strickland April 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Any business in the current climate has a lot to prove before they earn my business due to the number of bad experiences from those who promise guaranteed leads. Without the technology to filter leads and narrow the quality funnel, it`s probably best to rely on longer term business relationships and face to face salespeople.

  3. Elissa M June 11, 2010 at 3:27 am #

    Wish I had read this article before signing up for Yext. Cancelling now! Following you on Twitter now too…I’m @cloudmsg

  4. John June 19, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    Yext.com is a scam. Don’t get involved with these people………. You will absolutely regret it. I promise.

  5. Mike June 25, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    I have been using ReachLocal to market my fence installation business now for 6 months, before that I was doing Adwords myself, or trying to. Reachlocal has changed my business, I get a lot of phone calls and have closed a lot of sales. My investment in ReachLocal has paid off over and over

    • Chris June 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

      Thanks for describing your experience – it’s good to hear the other side.

      There are lots of happy reviews out there for these companies – and I know many businesses struggle running Adwords campaigns on their own.

    • dAN December 13, 2011 at 1:27 am #

      NearSay.com for local marketing in New York City is the best bang for your buck. Check it out and ask for Dan if you would like to talk it over

  6. robert west August 14, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    Yext is a complete scam. Here is their latest pillaging… They are changing (hijacking) existing customers’ business phone numbers in free web listings (that the customer created) to their $8 per call phone numbers.

    They claim that they have this “right” to change your existing listings (to their phone number) if you are enrolled in their “partner network.” Of course, they default enroll you and you don’t know this until you check a web listing and see it isn’t your phone number (or you’ve received an astronomical bill).

    So, if you’re a customer of theirs and you’ve spent a lot of time building an Internet presence on your own, they are going around behind you and changing your direct phone number to one of their trackable (and charged) numbers.

    What a total scam these guys are running. Call them up – they operate out of a NYC boiler room. Listen to the high-pressure sales pitch and maybe you’ll even hear the hoots and hollers of a “salesman” beating down another client (like I did – the guy had to mute his phone).

    If you want to get fleeced, this is the firm that will do it to you. Stay away – YEXT = FRAUD + SCAM.

    • Chris August 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

      Thanks for the comment Robert. The changing of phone numbers is something I’ve heard about happening with other companies as well.

      To anyone reading this – switching phone numbers in local listings has been an issue with several online marketing companies – make sure you question any salesman you’re talking to specifically about the practice.

  7. rtstech August 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    Yext sucks! There customer service is horrible! Tried them out for 6 months or so. Some of the calls were ligament. However, most were not. I just receive a call from a client through my Google search. This same client was shopping around and called me back from the Yext number. The recording clearly stated he called me earlier under my direct line. I call Yext customer service to get a credit on this call.

    There response;

    “As mentioned in the email we sent on 8/4, we are no longer crediting for calls.

    We spent several months talking to customers and studying our service to find what our clients liked most, and least, about the service. One overwhelming piece of feedback that we heard was that requesting and handling credits was time-consuming and a hassle. Based on that feedback, we came up with our new Pay-For-Calls model with the goal of giving you your time back and making our service easier to use. We removed the ability to receive credits, and while we can’t promise that we will filter out all calls that aren’t directly relevant to your business (computers aren’t perfect after all), we have lowered the price to offset these changes.”

    I was asked, “well your making money on the other calls, right?’ This is totally BS! They charged me $30 for a call that was from my client, calling there number by mistake. I canceled with Yext immediately!

    To all out there, BEWARE! You would think in today’s economy customer service would be a priority?

  8. Derek August 26, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    Like the others said, the problem with these services is they go to places like City Search and Yelp and change your listed number to theirs. Once you cancel service they will leave their number up so they can route your customers to someone else. You have to spend an incredible amount of time undoing all the damage they will cause. They also end up charging you for all your regular customers calling to reschedule. DO NOT DO IT.

    • Chris August 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

      It’s interesting how many people are running into this problem – combined with the other call tracking downsides, it’s really too bad they don’t just use your regular phone number.

  9. Jessica August 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    The problem is absolutely poorly set expectations. It is still marketing and there is no guarantee for return on investment. This is only increased by online variables like the advertiser’s website, competitors, and online reputation.
    It was mentioned that these kind of things have a problem with transparency. Reach Local offers reporting to advertisers that tells them how their campaign is working and their cost per click and cost per good lead plus much more. They also assign a technical support adviser to each client to try to reduce complexity. This is the first step to advertiser trust.

    • Chris August 26, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

      Thanks for the comments – it’s good to get some perspective from people at these companies, and you’re right, there are a lot of variables that cannot be controlled from client to client.

  10. Robert August 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    This article is a very good one, I was a self employed Internet Marketer for 10 years and recently closed my business and am now employed by one of the companies in your article. The reason I came to this company is because of the technology, the service is very good, customer service is excellent…but and I will say but the expectation by the customer is dependent on the way the campaign is sold. This is the case for the way anything is sold. If you over promise and under deliver you will have unhappy customers.

    • Chris August 26, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

      I’m glad you liked the article. Do you feel your company has a tendency to promise to much in the sales process?

  11. Just ME! August 26, 2010 at 11:06 pm #

    I don’t know anything about yext and I the only think I know about yodle is that they “stole” the business model from reachlocal but not the “technology”. I am, however, confused how anyone could say that ReachLocal is a scam. I’d be interested in what parts people think would make it a scam.

    Reachlocal offers a scalable, measurable, internet marketing solution.
    Any program with ReachLocal is 100% transparent. Advertisers have the ability to see exactly how their ad dollars are working and exactly what their ad dollar is doing for them. They offer a ppc campaign that optimized, they allocate the budget to the keywords that are converting to calls, emails or web events, they also offer display advertising with remarketing capabilities and “coming soon” is a social product that IS GOING TO BLOW YOU AWAY!

    Here’s what I think. I think there are a lot of small PPC companies that are loosing their best customers to companies like ReachLocal and they are scared because they don’t have the technology, the man power or the capabilities that ReachLocal has. I believe that these are the people who are post negative things about ReachLocal online. My suggestion to any advertiser out there is to do your own research. Call ReachLocal and have them come out and show you what they do. Remember is 100% transparent. You know exactly what you will be getting. Call Yodle and have them show you what they do. Don’t read bad reviews and automatically think that it’s the truth. ReachLocal was the 39th fastest growing technology company in 2009. They won the fastest growing technology company from deloitte in 2009. The only other internet company to win this award was google in 2004. I doubt they are a scam. Do you homework and I assure you that you will find that maybe some of the companies out there are scams or guessing but ReachLocal is NOT one of them.

    Thanks!

    Happy Thursday.

    Oh, in case you want to research them.

    http://www.reachlocal.com

    • Chris August 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

      I’m not saying any of these companies are scams. I think the problem is often misguided expectations – business owners are led to believe that the service is a sure thing, when the only way to really know how it will work for them is to try it. That’s how they end up with negative comments.

      I don’t think their being fast growing, or having a good sales pitch, relieves ReachLocal from the possibility of setting the wrong expectations – when you’re growing as fast as they are, sales has to be pushing pretty hard. On the other hand, I haven’t heard as many complaints about them as some companies, and I have to admit to having no way of getting a great comparison as to who is good and who is bad (if it even was that clear cut).

  12. Kevin October 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    After getting calls several times weekly about trying out Yext I finally tried the service reluctantly. We started with a $150 cap for incoming calls, the first month we received a couple calls from potential customers but soon after we started getting calls from people who were already long time customers of ours, they just lost our phone number. Since these people could not find our phone number they went online and searched which every advertising site had our number changed the the “800″ number Yext set up. We were not only getting charged for “junk” calls the ads that were placed around the net were poorly done. After calling the billing department regarding the calls, they flagged a few as “junk” for us but still made us pay for the other calls which should have been considered “junk”. Even some months we received no calls at all we were still charged the $150.00 fee. I will never use their service again and will not recommend them to my worst enemy.

  13. ChicagoBob May 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Good thing I came across http://www.smallbusinessshift.com and read the reviews concerning Yext.

    I’m a children’s entertainer in the Chicagoland area and while navigating thorough the net I came across the Yext site telling me how to get my business on the top listing sites, which are free anyway. To make a long story short, Yext would enter a description of my business to each of the free local listings. Well, I found out that
    my listings were on those local advertising sites anyway. All I need to do is spend some of my own time and enter in a description to each one of the sites, FOR FREE. I had a question to ask Yext, called their number, the salesperson gave me a ridiculous fee and that I had to pay up in front for them to do the work for me. I hesitated, told them that I’ll think about it and hung up. Well, wouldn’t you know, they called me twice from a NY number but I never did answer the phone. Again, I found the Yext reviews on smallbusinessshift and glad that I didn’t make a commitment with Yext.
    Thanks guys!!

    • Chris May 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

      Glad this site was helpful – and thanks for the comment!

  14. Enrique Rangel June 21, 2011 at 3:53 am #

    I have had the privilege of working with some of the marketing companies that you discuss. Particularly both Yodle and ReachLocal are services that integrate with our lead management tool. We saw a need for SMBs to understand that leads do not convert automatically. There is a process that needs to take place in order to get a good return on investment. We currently have approximately 11 ReachLocal clients and all of them are very happy with their service because our system ensures that their sales team is doing their job. We start by integrating all leads into our platform and then we put a stopwatch to each lead. This will ensure that leads are called in minutes and not hours. The leads then go to an automated process which ensures that the marketing continues until they become a paying customer. We started posting case studies of some of ReachLocal’s clients on http://mymedleadsblog.com. Hope this helps!

    • Chris June 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

      Enrique – Thanks for the comment. Definitely one of the problems some small businesses have with these services is that they are slow to respond to leads, so I can see where a platform such as yours might help. It’s not going to address everything, but should take care of one of the key issues.

  15. Illinois web designer June 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    I have a client that spent over $10,000 with Yodle in one year and did not recieve a single lead. Thats when they sought me out. While performing SEO duties for this same client, I discovered that Yext (I’m assuming) has added my clients business information to a popular local web directory under the wrong catagory. To top it off, when a user clicks on the website link in this listing, they are not taken to my clients website. They are taken to a page on the Yext website that has the content from my clients homepage displayed on it. This is a blackhat SEO technique used to gain web popularity. Any business that relies on these types of marketing techniques will fail eventually and the leads they sell will be poor at best.

    • Chris June 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      James – Thanks for the comment. This is really negative, I don’t know quite what to say – they really spent $10,000 before deciding it wasn’t working?

      I’m also a bit confused – Yext and Yodle are different companies, had this client worked with both of them? I know ReachLocal at least used to use a proxy when linking to client sites, allowing them to make virtual changes (tracking numbers and such) without having access to the site. I’m guessing something like this was going on when you say they were taken to a Yext website when clicking on your client’s link? This isn’t necessarily a black-hat technique – hopefully they were actually blocking search engines, or they’ll have piles of duplicate content. There’s no way it’ll help their ranking in this case.

      • Illinois web designer June 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

        My client told me that he spent about $1000 a month with Yodle for a year and they did not get any leads from it. My client did not use Yext services that I am aware of. I would think that, if Yext was trying to secure leads for my client at one time, they would have listed my client in the proper catagory of this directory, and they would list a phone number that they could track, so they could bill for any leads that come from it.

        The directory is do-follow, so the “website” link in the directory listing that takes you to the Yext page with my clients info on it is passing link popularity to their website. The content that was copied from my clients homepage has been slightly rearranged, so duplicate content issues would not be an issue. The robots meta tag on this Yext page is (noIndex, follow) which keeps the page from being indexed by the search engines(why hide it?), but it does allow link popularity to pass.

        • Chris June 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

          Thanks for clarifying. I see what you’re saying. It looks like they may have changed the directory, or I’m looking at something a bit different, because there’s no “website” link – the pages are under “view details.” It looks like the details pages are basically scraping either the actual websites or other local profiles (which really isn’t all that different from what a lot of local directories do). I must say, I’m a bit confused about the point of their directory – like you say, it’s noindexed, so they aren’t looking for search traffic.

          • Illinois web designer July 1, 2011 at 3:48 am #

            I noticed that this page with my clients info on it, that is located on the Yext website, is not listed if i try to use the directory on the Yext website. If I access the page through the directory I mentioned before, I find that their are no links on this page that take you to any other pages on the Yext site. The hidden business profiles on the yext site are being used to pass link popularity to different lead capture sites that they run privately. They probably have thousands of the hidden business profile pages on the Yext site used solely for passing ill gotten link popularity.

        • Jessica April 27, 2012 at 12:26 am #

          We also tried yodle for about 3/4 months and have maybe one good lead. It’s close to $,1,000 a month.

  16. Al September 24, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    I dont understand what these companys can do for me what I havent done for myself! Though I do believe that SEO is always ongoing, having a team may help.

    But I have an issue with the pay-per-click representation. Ive been in business for 10 years and know bing/yahoo/google formats. What would I get from them that I dont do for myself when I know my industry and they dont! This is a mystery.

    • Chris Piepho September 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

      Al – You sound fairly savvy compared to many of the people being sold by these companies. For someone like yourself it’s much less valuable than for someone that would have to start learning how to do everything from scratch.

      That said, there’s some value in saving you time, and it’s possible they can do a better job – but given the substantial costs involved, business owners with your type of experience very well might decide the math doesn’t work.

  17. Sherice Clendenon December 12, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Taylor just assume they wont be returning. They already got their ending so no point in opening that up again.

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  21. Clarke April 1, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    Mr. Piepho–

    In my opinion, you would better serve yourself and your readers if you subjected yourself to a three-month stint with, say, Yodle, Inc. I am confident that within three months, you would experience a dramatically improved understanding of why so many people, like me, hate Yodle, Inc. (Answer: Yodle, Inc. teaches people to hate Yodle, Inc.) Until then, enjoy sipping your ice tea in your ivory tower and try to resist the temptation of posting articles that are heavy on conjecture and theory, but light on the facts.

    Good luck in the future.

  22. Jessica April 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I just recently signed up with Yext, April 19th to be exact. They swore up and down that it’s a 30 day money back guarantee, which I made the customer service rep repeat to me 4 times just to be sure. Yesterday I decided to do some more research on Yext and came across about 4 different blogs about how terrible they are so I decided 5 days was enough, I’m still in the 30 day period, let me cancel now before I forget. So, I cancel online but see a notification that said “you’re account will not be charged again.” Of course I said, “again?” where is the refunded money notification. I call and I explain to this boy that I canceled and would like a $499.00 credit to my charge card. And here we go with the excuses on why it can’t happen. The one that bothered me most was “Well, yes, it’s your e-mail address and your name on the credit card but the account name is under a Nick. We can’t cancel without speaking to him.” Mind you, they never talked to Nick is the first place. I said to this annoying boy: “It’s okay to have a customer sign up with a different name on the account and credit card because you’re taking our money, but to cancel, now all of a sudden you need to speak with the person whose name is listed as the owner.” I got so annoyed that I told him I would call back to talk to a manager. But I realized after hanging up with this boy that talking to a manager would get me nowhere. So, I call my Credit Company and stopped payment to Yext due to false advertising. I was really hoping this would work and get my companies name out there. I need to go my homework better. These blogs definitely help.

    We need to really look around and find new ways to advertise and bring in more customers.
    If anyone has any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated!

    • Lisa Frost June 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Sorry to hear about your horrid experience with Yext, Jessica. The truth is these large internet marketing companies tend to have a business model that focuses on gaining profits for THEM. Gaining results for the companies that hire them is actually a secondary priority. As Chris mentions in his excellent article, you can see their priority by looking at their career listings. All these companies (Yext, Yodle, Reach Local, Adzzoo, etc) are based on a business model that can only be sustained by continually adding new customers. The problem is this focus on selling does not allow them to focus on the actual needs of their customers and so most of the time the business customer gets little to no results. The other problem is the programs offered by these larger firms are very cookie-cutter in nature and are not typically tailored to the USP of the client.
      After 10 years working in internet marketing the only successful business model I have seen for local businesses is to partner with a local consultant with a proven track record. You might try contacting your local Chamber of Commerce and ask them if they use a marketing consultant, how much it costs and what level of results they get.
      We work with local businesses in San Diego County and can proudly say that our clients experience success rates that are 5 times greater than the industry average. We keep our rates low by not hiring sales and support staff and by working with a network of experienced consultants with proven track records. While this business model works well for us and many other independent consultants it is not a sustainable business model for a large organization, which is why so many of these larger entities are viewed as scams.
      My advice is to avoid the big guys and find someone that fits well with your business style. Make sure they are willing to give you a list of local clients in your area that you can ask about their results from the consultant.
      Almost any consultant can give you 2-3 references that speak highly of them. But that does not mean they actually know what they are doing. We give clients a list of 50+ businesses that have used our services. This list contains local businesses that everyone in the area knows that range from the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce to large Ecommerce businesses to small non-profits. HINT: A consultant that does work for both commercial and non-profits clients plus is active in their local community is a good indicator.
      Lastly, keep doing your homework! By reading posts like this one you can learn much of what you need to increase results for your business.

  23. Brian August 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Our receptionist weeds out most sales calls. A Yodle salesman called and pretended to be a potential client. He got through to me. For a while I was confused with his questions – until he turned the “client” call into a sales call and wanted me to sign up. That was a month ago. He still calls and is relentless and obnoxious. He won’t go away. I won’t even look into them because I felt his initial call was deceptive.

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  26. Matthew January 11, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    As a webmaster for a small local brick and mortar mom and pop I firmly believe that these companies like Yext are a scam. Simply put they hijack your business by spreading misinformation. Then when you go to “claim” your business on their listings (of course they all act as if they have done you a favor by already adding you to their listings regardless of accuracy) they want to charge you. Some of them are alright in the sense that they allow for free accounts, and let you change the information. This form of information theft and manipulation is inexcusable.

  27. Ricardo January 12, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    I started last year (2012) a small construction business and was looking for an online advertiser in WA State. I found Yodle and they promise me I would get at least 30 phone calls each month from homeowners in need of a construction service. I decided to try the company for three months as part of their contract although each month was going to cost me about $3500. I gave Yodle staff my credit card information and they charged me the first month. Right within the first hour that I “sign the verbal contract” I decided to do a search on Yodle Company. I found 27 reviews of people that used to advertise with Yoodle Company and to my surprice only one person was happy with the company. I call Yodle right away and ask to cancel my account however this person named X said that there was nothing he could do because I already signed the contract. I told him the reason (unhappy people with Yodle Company) of canceling the contract. He said wait 48 hours then they will find a solution. Of course I did not wait and called my credit card bank to cancel the transaction. After 48 hours Yodle called me and said that they were going to only charged me $1800 because they already build a web page and did so many other things like posting my add online and they spend so many hours of work. I got a stomachache and told the person why in the hell they spend time working in my add since I cancel the account/contract in the first hour the contract began, of course the conversation continued for a long time…. Good thing I got the money back from my credit card bank. Be very careful with this company.

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    This sure is a jungle out there. Someone has to be careful when subscribing to ‘great’ offers, but there is no miracle solution…

  30. John May 17, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Their sales team has no idea what they are talking about… They start their poor 1990 sales pitch about local directory submissions that you can actually do for free if you take the time to do it.

    They try to tell you how your website is not showing up on Google, Yahoo, and Bing when it really does. Like they know exactly what your target audience, keywords, and goals are for your internet marketing campaign. The guy “Josh” even gave me a keyword suggestion that was searched 0 times according to Google’s Keyword Tool. Thanks Josh for the great advice, you just told me how to make my company fail.

    They get an attitude with you over the phone when you ask them a question because they do not know how to answer it. Then they try to call you over and over again until you have no choice but to call authorities to get them you remove your number.

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  37. At Home KItchens November 6, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Yext lies, We were solicited a year ago and agreed to pay $ 499.00 to fix issues with our site – Mainly we moved and search engines were still showing us at our old location. I was assured they would fix this, and they would optimize other search engines so customers would see our site.

    A Month after we paid them, Searches were still showing the old location, I called Yext and was told that they do not fix that, it was my responsibility – They gave me names of other companies who did this work, I stated I wanted a re-fund, they refused, I stated then cancel the service, they said it was on for 1 year and If I canceled there would still be no refund and the work they did would be reversed. I stated then do not renew this next year and was told they noted the file as to such.

    October 15th 2013 My charge card got charged again. I Noticed this on November 11th when I got my statement and called them, I was informed that the file was never noted and that they would only pro-rate the fee. I was just going to dispute the charge on my credit card then. I was told if I did that basically they would not do a refund of any sort. So I took the prorated credit. I sill am filing a complaint with my credit card company, but will wait to see if they indeed do as they stated.

    YEXT IS A SCAM

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  45. Charles April 15, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Reach Local guy called me yesterday and lied to me about his identity, saying that his friend is a new local client and he needs help.

    He asked me a lot of question about my services and about my current clients.

    I have just received an email from my client who was very distressed about them and their tactics.

    I am in the local marketing space, so obviously they are targeting all my current clients.

    I never posted a bad review about anyone but simply I had it enough.

    If you have been approached by the Reach Local sales person please avoid as a plaque an save your soul.

    They are the lowest kind of people on this planet and you need to avoid them at any costs.

    Thank you.

    • MA April 26, 2014 at 1:55 am #

      I am currently building out Reach Local’s global client list and looking for a few active partners to target their clients. In oz they are deceptively pocketing 50% of the marketing budget in addition to the 10% management fee. It might not be as high in the states but should be to hard to offer a superior offering.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Yodle, ReachLocal, Yext - Scams or Just Hard To Please Everybody? - April 21, 2010

    [...] SmallBusinessShift ponders the challenges of scaling an ambitious SMB SEM play: It’s not that Yext is a scam, although they do have some problems. The bigger issue is that there’s a communication and expectations gap when it comes to these big marketing companies and the businesses they’re serving. [...]

  2. Tweets that mention Yodle, ReachLocal, Yext – Scams? | Small Business Shift -- Topsy.com - April 22, 2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristie Price, Small Business Shift. Small Business Shift said: Yodle, ReachLocal, and Yext. Are they scams? My take: http://bit.ly/aSPjWB [...]

  3. Yodle Telemarketing Spam and Yodel Complaints | seenBest Web Design - March 16, 2012

    [...] Complaints Yodle, ReachLocal, Yext – Scams? Yodle.com – False Advertising Yodle-Scam Or Incompetent? Yodle, ReachLocal, Yext – Scams or [...]

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