Rogers’ new service Outrank promises to help small businesses boost their bottom line by generating more inbound calls and emails on a search optimized custom Web site.

Rogers targets small biz with new online marketing suite

One of Canada’s largest telecom players has decided to bring its game to a different field.

Rogers Communications Inc. recently rolled out an online marketing service aimed at small businesses. Called Outrank, the service promises to help companies generate more inbound phone calls and emails by offering a suite of products that include Web site design, search engine optimization (SEO) services, campaign tracking and paid search marketing.

“Outrank essentially aims to help small businesses generate more inbound phone calls and emails from potential customers by marketing the company online and making their brand visible when people are searching for their services,” said Milind Mehere, general manager of Outrank.

“We know that consumers typically go to the Web first to research a product or service before contacting or going to a business. Unfortunately, less than 45 per cent of Canadian small businesses have a Web site,” he said.

 

Converting clicks to customers

Prior to heading Rogers’ Outrank, Mehere co-founded the UnitedStates-based YodleInc. in 2005. The online advertising company uses a proprietary bidding algorithm designed to optimize online searchability for local businesses in order to drive new business leads. The company has since grown from a small operation to a firm that has 800 employees and more than 20,000 SMB clients across the U.S.

Outrank will be using a combination of SEO best practices and paid search marketing strategies to help Canadian clients build their business, said Mahere.

Outrank’s services cost anywhere from $500 to upwards of$2,500 per month. Within the last few weeks since the Rogers service opened, some 25 companies have signed up. Many of the Outrank customers signed up for $900 per month contracts, said Mehere.

Much of the money paid by Outrank customers is spent on a marketing budget designed around an online campaign for the business. A Web site with about 10 to 12 pages of content is designed for the business (although Outrank can also work with the business’s pre-existing site).

SEO elements are built into the site, then Outrank bids on keywords and creates online ads for the company. The ads are then distributed to the top search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Outrank’s performance dashboard tracks the performance of the site and the campaign and reports to the customer on items such as number of inbound calls and clicks, incoming emails, click through rates, key words and traffic and conversion rates.

Not the only game in town

Rogers is not alone among large companies offering Web marketing services to smaller businesses. Last year the YellowPages Group in Canada released a similar suite of online marketing offerings geared towards the same market.

With Yellow Pages 360 business owners can have a three-page Web site developed and hosted for them for as low as $50 per month. The YPG team also provides SEO, search engine marketing services and 24-7 technical support.

“The online arena is a tough area to play in for many small businesses,” said Anne Marsolais, director of communication for YPG in Montreal. She said many SMB owners are overwhelmed by the resources and expertise needed to launch and manage a Web site or an online marketing campaign.

The new Rogers offering is not going to pose a threat to other businesses offering online marketing services such as Web design andSEO, according to the chief of one such company.

“It’s still too early to tell how the market will react. However, the way I see it, Rogers’ product is not going to be competition,” said Dev Basu, a search engine optimization specialist and president of Powered by Search in Toronto.

He said services rolled out by large companies such as YellowPages and Rogers are typically meant to “upsell their current customers.”

“The service targets companies that are still looking to get their feet wet in online and social marketing,” Basu said.

As such, he said, the services are aimed at a wider array of businesses and offer products geared to fit a certain range of common Web marketing needs. By contrast, companies such as Powered By Search and smaller boutique Web marketing outfits operate in a way that zeroes in on the specific needs of individual clients.

“There’s a market for the $50-a-month Web site design and hosting, but what you get is a cookie cutter type of site and services,” said Basu.

This type of service might be ideal for some businesses, but firms that want to differentiate their brand or bring their marketing campaigns to a higher level need a more tailored approach, he said. “A site or online campaign for a plumber will not be the same for a flowershop and one flower shop might need an entirely different approach from another flower shop.”

Mehere of Outrank counters that the service he offers comes with a large degree of customization.

For instance, he said, each Outrank customer is given their own account manager who monitors and optimizes their site and campaign according to the goals set by the client. These account managers, he said, are Internet marketing experts who are Google Adwords certified professionals.

“If they find that people are dropping off from the site, they are trained to carry out measures to stop this,” Mehere said.

Basu hopes that services such as those offered by Rogers and Yellow Pages help educate business operators about Web marketing.“Hopefully when they’re ready to take their campaign up a notch, they come to us.”

Nestor ArellanoNestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter,read his blog,and join the ITBusiness Facebook Page.
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  • Mike

    Actually as a user of Rogers Outrank I would have to say that they don’t know what they are doing. In my case they promised custom written copy for the website and an ongoing review and iterative process to improve and perfect the site to convert at least 30-50 qualified leads into customers. They were unable to do any of this. The site generated was cheep cookie cutter site and had the worst copy imaginable. Despite repeated requests to talk to and get the team of “copy and marketing specialists” on board to review and revamp my website nothing substantial happened. After 3 months I had only 1 qualified lead (plenty of wrong numbers looking for everything from The Body Shop to Time Warner customer service and the inevitable random digit dial telemarketers). My advice. Save your money and talk to someone who knows what they are doing. Rogers doesn’t.

  • Pejvak Tajarrod

    I was scammed by rogers outrank too.I tried to cancelled it a few hours after I gave them my credit card I was told I can not do that.
    So my phone would ring a few times and says rogers outrank, a month later email from outrank stated I had 16 business leads.
    they promised so many thing about putting my company in google and other search engines, I wish only one of promises rogers outrank made would have come thorough.
    I do have the same very advice Mike gave you SAVE YOUR MONEY rogers outrank is like 29 prime telemarketing scam

  • Janie Darren

    @Mike

    I don’t know anything about your experience, but I’ve had nothing but good things from Rogers OutRank. I’ll admit that I didn’t know that much about online advertising before I started, so you might have higher expectations than I did. I like my website a lot and the copy on it reads naturally. I did have some trouble getting a hold of them every time I wanted them, but they always got back to me within a couple days.

    I haven’t seen any Roger’s OutRanks reviews around that are as bad as yours, so I would guess that you had an unusual experience.

  • Longenecker Christian

    I don’t know where these people are getting these experiences from when I read some of the Rogers Outrank reviews that have been posted around different places. I have to think that they must have tried the program when it was just getting started, because my experiences with the company over the last six months have been nothing but positive.

    I haven’t left any of my own Rogers Outrank reviews around the internet, but if I had, I would definitely be covering the fact that I have been up to my eyeballs in referrals for the entire time that I have been working with them. I think the last time I looked at my numbers, it was something like 15% a month in growth. The phone recording software they provided me with has certainly come in helpful when it comes to managing that.

    Roger’s OutRank really deserves better than the reputation that I’ve seen them given on other websites. They have always treated me so well.

  • Tessa Curry

    I’m glad to see Roger’s OutRank getting some attention in the media. I’ve been using them since OutRank was first introduced, and I’ve always thought more people should hear about them. Rocky start when the service first started, but I’m glad I stuck with them. Everything has been as smooth as glass for the last three months or so. It sometimes amazes me that I’m paying this little for an advertising service.

    I’m not sure why some of the Rogers OutRank reviews I’ve read on the internet seem to have such a low opinion of it. My guess is that they came in while the service was still developing it. Though, that part wasn’t even that bad for me. I’ve got a new website besides the first one they gave me, but that one was still clean and really effective. I also haven’t had any trouble getting in touch with the experts like some people have said.

  • Gerry Weinstein

    I’m new to online advertising, SEO, reviews, and all of that, which is why I went with Rogers Outrank in the first place. I didn’t want to have to research a whole new industry, I just wanted to get my company online and in front of customers. At $900 a month it’s worth it to me for the peace of mind. It’s been pretty easy for me to get started. Maybe once I’m more web-savvy I’ll take over some of what Rogers is doing for me, but for now I like that they’re looking after my web presence and bringing my store customers that otherwise might have ignored me.

  • Ron Shell

    I guess my story is like the one below. I’m new to the internet, having just struck out on my own as an entrepreneur. That means I have a million and one things to do and not enough time to do them all and the last thing I want is to have to mess around with Google Adwords or whatever the flavour-of-the-month is online. Rogers Outrank just takes care of it. Am I tracking their performance? You bet I am. And their performance for me, now, is a thousand times more important to me than stale reviews from 2012. If they perform well, they stay and they get recommended. If they don’t perform, well, there are other solutions. But so far, so good!

  • Caesar

    Well, maybe it’s just me, but Rogers Outrank has outperformed all my expectations after reading the reviews. My business is small and new and we weren’t sure how we were going to get search engines to notice us, but the results have made us very happy within just a 90 day window. And unlike Bell, there’s been no horrible security breach either. That’s important, that we know our information and our customers’ information is safe. We wouldn’t want to be on the hook if somebody’s credit cards got used by a hacker.

  • AW

    I find it very interesting how hard Rogers is working to upgrade their online reputation, including a huge influx of fake reviews such as the one’s seen below. That to me says more than anything. I’ll personally stay away from this because so far everything Rogers has touched for me they’ve screwed up in epic fashion.

  • Jared Williams

    Thanks for your review and comparison of Rogers Outrank services. There are so many offers out there, from so many companies, that it’s not easy to tell the best choice. They all have their pluses and minuses. A thousand bucks a month is an important line item in a small business budget, but Rogers does sound like an attractive bundle if you have that in your advertising budget. The independent contractors I’ve talked to either want way more money or they want way, way less, which makes me skeptical they can deliver. It’s a judgment call, but for me, I’ll go with the larger, steadier company that can offer me integrated services without constantly needing my passwords and hand-holding. I just want the job done, and I am too busy running my business to do that part of it myself!

  • Taylor Townsend

    Jeez, have you guys been talking about this for two years? I’ve been using it for two years, and after (yeah) a rocky start, it’s performed beautifully. They even gave me a partial refund to reflect some of the glitches in the early days, and they’ve gone above and beyond lately with the content they’ve delivered and the results.

    • http://itbusiness.ca/ Brian Jackson

      Taylor, would you be willing to talk more about your experience with Outrank? I’m interested to hear from customers of it.

  • Cindy C

    SEO is a complicated, ever-changing business, so it makes sense that what worked in 2012 doesn’t necessarilyy work now, and vice versa. My question is, how is Rogers Outrank working right now for its customers? People are searching right now for “dog walkers” or “fine linens” or what-have-you and what matters is which service puts you in front of the most, best leads. You are all talking about the service, and most of the comments are pretty positive, so that says something about what the service is like right now.

  • Judith Flackons

    I’m getting into this conversation real late but I just want to say that my family business put our money on Rogers Outrank, and they did great for us. We don’t have a lot of cash to throw around & our business is everything to us. Except for the kids we don’t know the Internet either. Its great what Rogers has done for our website and if you think it’s too pricy maybe your business needs to do better. Very happy to leave a positive review for these folks.

    • http://itbusiness.ca/ Brian Jackson

      I’d like to hear more about your positive experience with Outrank. Could we talk about it on the phone? I’ll email you to get in touch. Also if anyone else on this thread would like to talk about Outrank, please contact me.

  • Adam K

    Nestor, thank you for your post. Just doing a bit of research on Rogers Outrank, and your article is certainly helpful in my decision making process. I am reading some mixed reviews, but the majority, including your post, makes me inclined to give the a shot, and see what they got. Can anyone speak to what they have seen at the 6 and 12 month points? Appreciate everyone’s insight!

  • Ken

    Yo Adam, I think I can shed a little bit of light on Rogers Outrank. First couple months were rocky, and I was ready to walk, but I put some pressure on them, and things have since turned around. I think they have a lot of clients, and sometimes maybe some fall through the cracks? I think if you want to get the most out of it, it is best you get involved. Ask questions, see what you can do to help. And stay on top of them. I am just approaching month 7, and the spend is jusitified. I’m not diving into a vault of gold coins of course, but I have definately been able to measure a significant uptick in new biz. I own a dealership FYI. So, Rogers Outrank has my vote for now.