Would you keep a salesperson that doesn’t dress the part or know anything about your business? Would you pay this salesperson more than she/he is worth? This very scenario sounds like most small business websites to us.
You would want to make sure that your salesperson is dressed for the job, is easy to understand, knows everything about your product/service and knows a little about your business and what makes it different. – It’s no different with websites. Your business’ or organisation’s website is the number one digital marketing tool and your 24/7 salesperson that never sleeps.
In this article, we’ll compare Yell’s website offerings to those of agencies, to highlight the most significant problems that result in small and medium businesses spending hundreds, if not thousands, per month on marketing methods that bring little to no results.
Yell is the original distributor of those big yellow business directory books that our great-grandparents used to find a plumber, a car mechanic or a dentist.
With a £2.3billion debt in 2013, Yellow Pages has since announced that they will stop printing their oversized, overcrowded and overpriced yellow books, and has rebranded to “Yell”, an online business directory, offering a wide variety of digital marketing services.
Yell has been slow to adapt to the growth of the internet, however, and even their free online business directory is struggling to stay afloat with the likes of in-search Google Places listings being far more successful. Very few people visit Yell.com to search for businesses, so Yell (also sluggishly), started offering websites.
Wow, a major undertaking, one would think. How can such a large company cope with even a tiny fraction of those clients wanting to undertake several-month-long website projects? The answer is simple: pre-made unoriginal templates, which are used to form a hugely expensive website that you never own.
It’s difficult to see that Yell is a company that will be helpful or enthusiastic about your business. With their operations spread all over the globe (likely to keep costs down), there is a complete disconnect between the promises made by the sales team and what is delivered by their overseas teams.
Let's say that there are problems with Yell's sales tactics, results hugely differing from promoted products and a near-complete lack of communication.
Our experience with Yell comes from our customers and partners, who have either had a poor experience.
Yell's sales team is one that promises services and quality that the company simply cannot deliver. They visit business premises or call companies and use proven sales tactics with the help of irresistible statistics, to sign-on clients before they leave.
There's an abundance of posts and reviews online, confirming that most of their customers regret signing contracts within minutes. It seems that the common problem is that Yell makes promises about results to persuade the client to sign their 12-month contract, after which there's little you can do.
Even when your 12-month contract ends and you've paid off your full owing to Yell, you don't own the website. You give up your rights to the site, and its content in the contract, and transfer ownership of all your logos, images, icons, text and everything else used to make the website to Yell. This means that you can't download the site, and you are likely to be refused if you contact Yell to provide you content that you provided them to make the site.
The website will remain online after your 12-month contract only if you continue to pay £96 per month for hosting. A figure that amounts to £1,152 per year, while the quality and reliability of Yell's hosting service are subpar compared to the likes of budget hosting companies that charge £30... per year. (More on this later).
Moreover, you cannot avoid their ridiculously high (for what it is) hosting fees by moving your website elsewhere. Since you don't own the site, you can only host it with Yell.
One thing you'll hear from a Yell representative is that they offer affordable websites. However, they are nothing but cheap. Sites "start from £499", but in reality, adding a few services pages and an about page (that uses the same layout) will easily bump your project up into thousands.
While you get no originality and will often see no results, the real way that Yell makes their money is their monthly services. One of which is low-grade hosting, charged at no less than £96... per month... for a small website. That's not the end of it, to achieve lower prices, they force you into other monthly advertising services, promoted Yell listings and PPC (Pay Per Click) ads. One client spent over £5,000 on their website and then continued to pay £1,200 per month for other services that never delivered the results that were promised.
Their £96 per month or £1,152 per year hosting is lower quality and much less reliable than budget hosting for no more than £2 per month. Don't get us wrong; many companies charge upwards of £250 per year for hosting. Hosting is hugely important for your website; you need to make sure it's reliable, optimised and secure. However, nothing we've heard, read or seen justifies Yell's hosting fees.
Furthermore, a featured listing to the top of Yell's search results will cost you £265 per month, a local VIP listing will come to more than £80 per month, Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign and management will offset you by £500 per month, while display advertising and maintenance will cost a further £200 per month.
You can safely bet on the fact that Yell is not a creative company. Their designs look as though they were all made when Yell was still selling their paper books.
Yell's "web design" services provide customers with pre-made templates for each site. This means that Yell made a few simple websites that it then reuses for every customer, with minor customisations. More often than not, even choosing a unique looking template will still mean that there are a few hundred other sites out there that look the same.
Need proof? Try making a Google search for: "web design by Yell" (with speech marks). This will bring up all websites which contain this phrase. (Currently, around 17,600). As you'll see, there's little variation between the ancient looking sites.
Making alterations beyond the template will result in charges at agency rates of £50 to £100 per hour, while this work gets outsourced to countries where the minimum wage is significantly lower than in the UK.
Overall, all you're doing is paying Yell's minimum wage employees to fill text boxes.
The most regretted aspect of Yell's services is their 12-month contracts for every service. That means that the company mentioned above that paid £5,000 for their pre-made website with little effort from Yell also paid £14,400 for other marketing services that were promised to drive their sales through the roof. As with all marketing, it's difficult to know if a deal is good until you try it, so if you don't like Yell after a month then, unfortunately, you're stuck.
The best part? The sales team doesn't state that it's a 12-month contract. So you're paying for a yearly service that's split up into monthly payments.
A quick visit on Trustpilot will reveal more than 530 1-star reviews. From people complaining about Yell taking months to change a phone number, to those who are forced to close their businesses because Yell is charging too much with no results.
No matter what the issue seems to be, it's clear that once you're on a contract, you'll be limited to overseas call centres, poorly trained staff and support waiting times that are weeks or months, rather than hours or even days.
After evaluating experiences of other Yell customers, we're hoping you'll stay clear of their shady sales tactics and ridiculous fees. This blog post isn't meant to persuade you to work with us, but to keep you out of harm's way.
Digital marketing and design agencies such as ourselves offer entirely bespoke websites, that you own, can maintain and move wherever you like. For many businesses, a WordPress website is the ideal way to go. It lets you add pages, posts, edit all text, imagery and menus - no per-page pricing.
You can also have an ecommerce store and plenty of free integrations. However, most importantly, you can call and reach our friendly, small, UK-based team via phone and email, knowing that you won't be nickel and dimed.
Want to see how we can help your business succeed online? Get in touch!