Yell Digital Marketing – Small Business Marketing Hell provide a range of digital advertising and marketing services for small to medium-sized businesses – but are they any good? Services on offer include website design, AdWords PPC management and promoted listings in the directory.

In our exposure with many small businesses that have used Yell, there is a huge bias towards selling exposure on the directory platform. And in most cases, this is not the approach that offers the best possible return for your business.

In this post we take a look at an example business who dropped Yell, reduced their costs and generated far more leads and business. We also look at what you can do to reduce your digital marketing spend whilst improving your results.

A Small Business Tale of Woe

We met with a small business owner of a roofing company in a relatively small area of Birmingham called Sutton Coldfield (approx 100,000 population).  The business has been using Yell for their digital advertising and spending £600  per month. £500 of this goes on website rental, increased exposure on the Yell directory and £100 goes on Google AdWords PPC.

So, you don’t have to be a digital marketing guru to see that there is something wrong with this picture. Where do you think your customers are? Are they on Google? Are they on Maybe some folks click through to Yell from the search engine result pages but they have to get past four ads, three local listings and other organic results to do so.

Over the last six months the Yell Digital Marketing has generated millions of impressions on and around 1000 clicks per month from the network. We have also seen around 30 calls in that six month period so around a single call per week. This is around a 0.05% conversion rate from Yell traffic which speaks volumes for the quality.

There is also an AdWords PPC account being run by Yell which is something of a shambles. One advert. No conversion tracking. Broad match keywords. I mean come on. It’s like they purposely don’t want AdWords to work. It is unlikely to be a purposeful attempt to prevent AdWords from working and rather just a really, shoddy, bare minimum effort to set up and optimise the PPC by Yell staff.

So, from our £600 PM we have rental of a pretty weak website, around a call a week and some untracked exposure with Google Ads. Well, we think any small business can do a whole lot better than that and make £600 work far, far harder.

In the remainder of this post we will outline why this situation is the way it is and a few ways you can make that marketing budget work way harder for your business.

Yell Have a Product to Sell –

Small businesses will never get the best marketing support or guidance from Yell as they primarily want to sell exposure on Not all business directories are pointless, but, much like the Yellow Pages books they grew out of, are well past their sell-by-date. So, this creates a situation where the bias will always be to sell something with little to no value. Certainly, where the traffic has a 0.05% conversion rate on an okay website there are major issues here.

A Simple Solution

First up – ditch Stay in the directory, but certainly don’t pay for a premium listing. They can make the stats look fancy but the reality rarely, if ever delivers. Then look at that £600 and decide how to better spend it, with some options being:

  1. Spend £300 on an AdWords campaign and save £300
  2. Spend £600 on an AdWords campaign and really go at it
  3. Spend £300 with an agency for SEO & PPC and put £300 into AdWords clicks

I have an obvious bias towards #3, as a marketing agency can help you set-up and manage your AdWords PPC professionally to get the best results. They can then also look at organic SEO, local SEO, conversion optimisation, and reputation signals like reviews to ensure you are getting the best possible return on your spend.

With this approach, your business will be listed at the top of the page in the AdWords PPC ads. With some good SEO and Local SEO work it will be listed again in the local results and then the organic results below those. Likely with some work on reputations and reviews you can get a five-star review showing as well. Really got at it and make sure your business is strongly visible when your prospective customers come looking.

Clearly, though – this is not strategic rocket science. You could put the £600 on AdWords and let a chimp bash at the keyboard and get better results than flushing the money down the toilet, so don’t be scared to have a go yourself. There are lots of great resources out there and we have a PPC strategy guide you can download to get on the right path with online advertising.

Challenge us to half your spend and double your results

Here is another option for you. We have professional small business PPC management from only £100 per month. You could then put £200 towards clicks with AdWords. We will manage and optimise your account to ensure you are in front of customers and looking the part at the very moment they search. & before you consider using the Yell web design services, please check out this post for all the problems that tend to come along with it.

If you want to really go at it then we have small business SEO packages from only £150 PM so you can increase your exposure and website traffic without paying for every click.

Certainly – we have no bias here. We have no directory product to hawk. We look at all of the options to determine what will provide the best bang for your marketing buck. Whether that is SEO, PPC, Social Media or Content Marketing – we will save you money and increase your results. As will any legitimate agency who has no bias towards an owned platform.

Do you use Yell to manage your advertising? How is it performing? If you would like one of our team to take a look and see if you can reduce your marketing costs and improve results then get in touch.


4 Responses

  1. As a longtime yell or yellowbook or hibu employee I can tell you that what you’re saying is almost 100% accurate it just rings less than hollow because you have just the one example to explain your reasoning. Often times because of the running relationship that small businesses have with the yellow page companies they are the first ones to get a crack at the online marketing budget because they’re swapping print dollars for digital dollars. The limited programs that they offer are often better than doing nothing but just barely.

    While trying to hold onto their gobs of monthly revenue from the print directories yellowbook made blunder after blunder trying out different online products. Marking them up to insane levels just to stop the bleeding. I’m not sure how they could be wrong so many times on so many different products and continue to fail in their execution but they do. They certainly have no interest in being a valuable asset for small businesses only in trying to recoup shrinking monthly revenue.
    I could go on and on but the time is fading.

    1. Hey Joe

      I only talk about the one example here but this is pretty much a regular tail of woe. Yell seem to hook people in on the strength of the brand and then confuse and overstate the value of what they deliver.

      We also see the work that Yell do often negatively impacts the organic SEO of companies making them further reliant on Yell. All of this whilst pushing the SEO benefits of their product. Whether this is a strategic move on Yell’s part to make those customers more reliant or just consistently not understanding digital in any way, shape or form (most likely) it certainly is not in best of interests of most small or local businesses.

      Thanks for the comment – super interesting to get some perspective from within the organisation.


  2. I certainly have a tail of woe with Yell/HIBU, I have had pay per click for five years and found out only recently that they hadn’t included Panasonic telephone systems as a keyword when this is my main business, all I have had is hassle when people have come through to us rather than who they were looking for. They have not done what they said they would for my Yell. com listings either, I complained about this sometime ago and nothing has been done, I feel I have been throwing money away for the past few years and that income from my existing customers and word of mouth has been subsidizing this outlay. To say I am disappointed is an understatement.

    1. Hey Malcolm – unfortunately, this is an all too familiar tale! Happy to dive into your PPC account and give it a quick look over and tweak so you are not wasting any more money.

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