How Did The Guys At Market Samurai Make This Stupid PR Mistake?

As you already likely know, Market Samurai is an automation tool for Internet Marketing, with a strong emphasis on the SEO side of building and maintaining a site.

The entry point to the tool for most of us has been the kyword research module, that can be used for free. If you’re hooked with the tool, you are likely going to find at least the SEO competition and the Rank Tracking modules useful to hep you with your SEO and end up buying a license, like I did.

But in the past weeks, these guys have been going through tough times.

The problem that generated a lot of bad buzz for Market Samurai

Recently, Market Samurai experienced one big “hiccup”, and several of the modules either didn’t fully work, or didn’t work at all.

Why did these modules -especially the Rank Tracker module- stop working?

Of course I don’t work at Market Samurai so I don’t know the internals of their code, but we can safely assume it works somewhat like this:

  • If users have the “Use built-in proxies” option checked in, all query options are sent to their servers, they (through their in-house proxies) run the queries needed to Google, and return the results to the local software.
  • They say they have 40.000 paid users, that is, 40.000 people that can be using the Rank Tracker. If each of us did check daily 10 different URLs in each 10 different sites to see whether they are found within the first 100 results in Google, that equals 40.000 (users) * 10 (URLs) * 10 (sites) * 10 (the number of pages they need to grab to check 100 results) = 40.000.000 queries / daily made to Google from their proxies.

And that is only for the Rank Tracker…

It’s no wonder Google somehow decided to block that and Market Samurai stopped working.

On the technical side, they came up with several solutions:

  • The first updates came soon and relied on using different search engines to calculate certain values in the keyword research module.
  • And the second change, which they implemented later, consists on just disabling the ability to run Rank Tracker check through their proxies, and have users run them locally. Plus, they’ve added some delays betwen queries so that Google doesn’t block us.

What did they do then?

In an act of honesty, and of proactive customer support, the guys behind Market Samurai wrote a blog post and sent a broadcast to the user base informing about this issues as they arose.

Good intentions, they had. But poor execution, that led to awful results.

  • The language in their post was vague -“Google made some significant technical changes to its services that make it impossible to reliably perform large volumes of free queries“. Some changes? Large volumes?
  • They made some bold statements -“It’s also worth noting that most other SEO software has been affected in some way by these changes“. Hey, dude, you just put your competitors on your same boat, you’d rather be darn sure that’s the case… But apparently it wasn’t, as they had to correct that statement.
  • And, above all, they introduced a confusing paragraph talking about the cost of offering this service, about using a paid service from now on that costs $99/month, etc. That seemingly opened the door to charging a new monthly fee to their users for the use of one of the modules, Rank Tracker.

What all this led to was, on one side, to confusion and even anger in their customer base. If you google “Market Samurai Rank Tracker” and select the results from the past two weeks, you’ll se tens of entries in different blogs where people express their feelings… and not many of them are good feelings.

And, on the other side, it gave their competitors a chance to do some self-promotion at the expense of their mistake. Most of them were legitimized to say that their software is much more reliable and not prone to this problems, and was not experiencing any issues at all. The blogosphere exploded with posts titled “Alternatives to Market Samurai’s Rank Tracker”, and the like.

It was a big big communication snafu.

So, what was their biggest mistake?

All of this happened because when they wrote that communication -strangely enough in a company focused around market researching software-

they didn’t understand their audience, and they didn’t qualify their readers

 

Having the ability to run queries locally, you may be well served depending on how “big” you are.

Let’s see how this can affect different profiles of Market Samurai users.

  1. Most “small” marketers, if they are really optimizing their sites for a set of keywords, run a limited number of sites. With the local queries option, you are good to go.
  2. If they run a very large number of sites, let’s say 100-200+, they are either not working on all of them simultaneously, or you are not optimizing them for many keywords or even none at all (like if you are autoblogging and seeing what sticks, for instance). So you either are satisfied with using the “local only mode” of the Rank Tracker, or you don’t use it at all.
  3. Or, if you have an empire of medium and large sites, and have the resources to improve its SEO rankings globally on a daily basis, it means you are already making some decent money in order to have the resources to have such a sustained SEO campaign, because the only way to do that is having a team of SEOers, either in-house or outsourced. You may be affected by this change, but you definitely have some money behind you.

So, they could have easily qualified their audience in their post -technically, have their audience qualify themselves- before “dropping the bomb”, and even presenting a possible “Premium Rank Tracker” as an advantage for the most advanced users.

They could have said something along these lines:

If you manage a small network of sites, with a moderate amount of focus keywords, you won’t really be affected by having to check your ranks from your computer; just be careful not to run all your queries in a too short period of time, and you will be fine, the Rank Tracker will provide you with the information you need, as it always has.

If, on the contrary, you are running a large network of authority sites with hundreds of different page 1 keywords you need to track daily, congratulations! You are one of the selected few who have been able to build a successful empire.

We understand the changes in the Rank Tracker module may be inappropriate for you. We have tried everything on our hands to keep the service running as usual, but the only way to move forward is to rely on third party providers for this information.

Thus, in short notice we will contact you again in order to give you more details of our solution, and offering you the chance to upgrade to the new Elite Rank Tracker Module, that will give you even more accurate and timely information, at a very affordable monthly cost“.

That would have sounded different, wouldn’t it?

Let us know what you think below!