Siebel Saves on Search In-House

With a search marketing budget of $1.5 million for 10,000 keywords, Siebel Systems didn’t want to take any chances with the hardscrabble bidding process on Google and Yahoo for the domestic, European and Asian markets.

So the San Jose, CA-based CRM specialist turned to SearchForce, a provider of pay-per-click management software for search marketing. SearchForce’s Search Marketing Management Platform gives Siebel the internal control to access and respond to competitive keyword bidding and boost its campaigns.

“Basically it was a pain in the butt having two systems to manage and across different languages,” said Sherman Hsieh, group director for Web marketing at Siebel. “We were wasting a lot of time doing a lot of administrative tasks, and there really wasn’t a tool out there, besides SearchForce, that offered the automation and scale that we were looking for.”

Siebel runs campaigns based on keywords like “CRM,” “CRM comparison,” “hosted CRM” and “virtual call center.” It also advertises against all its competitors for its customer relationship management on-demand products targeting small to midsize businesses.

Siebel’s hosted on-demand edition can cost $70 per user monthly or upward of $50,000 for the Midmarket installed software. Paid search is the company’s most cost-effective online marketing tool for lead generation.

“Search is a fertile ground for SMBs because these guys can’t use a company like Gartner, Yankee Group or Aberdeen – they’re too expensive,” Hsieh said. “So they rely on Google to provide research information.”

The SearchForce platform lets Siebel manage its entire paid search marketing campaign instead of managing those keywords individually through Google and Yahoo. Siebel uses SearchForce through a software license.

In essence, SearchForce’s algorithmic-based bidding approach compares keywords individually and as a group with the aim of improving campaign performance predicated on set objectives.

So using SearchForce’s bidding optimization engine automates Siebel’s process of managing and bidding on its many keywords. The SearchForce dashboard offers real-time views into how different campaigns are performing, with the algorithms monitoring and responding to changes on Google and Yahoo.

“It’s certainly centralization and auto bidding,” said Samir Patel, president/CEO of SearchForce, Santa Clara, CA. “They’re in that business – they understand the lifetime value of customers, and they understand tracking value, the cost of acquiring customers and the cost of retaining customers.”

Carat Fusion, San Francisco, handled Siebel’s paid search campaigns for two years. This was followed by San Francisco shop SF Interactive, which outsourced Siebel search work to Fathom Online.

“Basically, agencies don’t have a lot of core competencies, at least the ones I’ve run across,” Hsieh said. “What they actually do is outsource to another agency to manage the paid search campaign. Basically, that’s a recipe for disaster. It took me a week to get a report on time until I figured it out they weren’t doing it inhouse. So, after taking the program inhouse, the improvement was dramatic. When the agency managed it, our CPA was $250. We’ve dropped it by two-thirds. We’re now at $80. So in terms of ROI, with the same spend it’s huge.” n

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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