Vertical search player KnowledgeStorm has introduced a new flat-fee service aimed at small and medium-sized IT companies that want to benefit from search, but don’t want to manage a SEM campaign themselves.
The service, called “Click-to-Lead,” has employees from KnowledgeStorm and partner Inceptor creating paid placement campaigns for clients. But rather than driving clicks to the clients’ Web sites, they go instead to client-specific pages in the KnowledgeStorm directory, where the search company can convert them into leads. The service starts at $995 per year, and clients must make a 12-month commitment. So far, the company hasn’t signed any companies to its new service.
“The reason we decided to do this was we were hearing from clients and potential clients that there was a hole in the market,” said Jeff Ramminger, KnowledgeStorm’s EVP of products, technology and marketing. Ramminger said the company also saw it as an opportunity to sell to smaller clients and get more business from them as their companies grow.
Ramminger figures there are about 100,000 small to medium-sized IT consulting and services companies that are potential advertisers. They’re interested in search, he said, but, like many other small businesses, they’re too focused on serving their own clients to concern themselves with keywords and bid management.
It’s an approach a number of players are taking to woo small businesses to the search market. Web hosting providers Affinity Internet and Interland, along with directories publisher Dex Media, are offering similar flat-fee search deals to their advertisers. Executives from Yahoo’s Overture Services are also mulling the flat-fee option.
Unlike some of these players, though, KnowledgeStorm won’t offer a guaranteed number of clicks or leads to its clients — at least not the smaller ones. At higher spending levels, Ramminger said it would consider doing custom programs that include guaranteed leads.
“At the low end, what we’re doing is focusing on awareness,” he said.
KnowledgeStorm has initially dedicated five of its 95 employees to servicing clients of the new service. Partner Inceptor will also put four or five employees on the job.
The search campaigns will run on Google, Overture, FindWhat, Enhance Interactive and Kanoodle.
With social media reach and engagement rates having dipped so precipitously over the last year or so, paying to play is the only option for most brands now.
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