Is Hibu Defrauding it’s customers?

I have recently completed a thorough review of a Hibu “WebReach” campaign.  If you are not familiar with the term “WebReach” – it is Hibu’s term for the suite of internet marketing “services” (services is put in quotes because it is my belief that what they provide is anything but a “service”) they offer.   The primary product in Hibu’s “WebReach” program is Google AdWords.  Hibu is a large re-seller of Google AdWords.

What I found in this review was shocking.   I expected the standard limited information in the reports provided by Hibu.  I expected withholding info like Bounce Rate, Match Type, Search Query etc.  Hibu did not disappoint in those areas.  I did NOT expect to find evidence of fraud (alleged).

I discovered Hibu reporting phone calls received from Organic Visitors as if they were from a Paid Click.  Yes – you read that right.  Hibu is reporting (at least in this case) all website phone calls as if they came from the Pay Per Click Campaign!

How I discovered this:

It was originally an accident.  This customer paid me to also do an SEO review of their Hibu created website.  To get to the website, I did a Google search for the company name in one of the cities they are located.  I found their organic listing.  In the Title of the organic listing, you can clearly see the customers phone number (which is in the title tag on the page that showed up in the organic listing).  When I clicked the ORGANIC link, the phone number on the page was replaced with the tracking number.  The same tracking number that is being used for the Pay Per Click Campaign Reports!

Is Hibu intentionally misleading customers?   

I don’t know, but I don’t see any way that this could be an accident.  I took a look at the java script code that is used to dynamically change the numbers and the code says “look for (xxx) xxx-xxxx and replace it with (yyy) yyy-yyyy”.  Call tracking scripts for Google AdWords campaigns are usually a bit more complex.  Normal AdWords Call Tracking (or call tracking for any purpose) would look for the source of the website visitor and IF the source of the visitor matches the predefined parameters, it would then replace the phone number on the page with a tracking number.  That’s why it’s called DYNAMIC CALL TRACKING.  Dynamic Call Tracking can be used to insert a tracking number for any reason.  You can use this code to insert a tracking number for visits from Campaign A, and a different tracking number for visits from Campaign B.  You could track visitors from Yahoo vs. visitors from Bing.  The possiblities are endless.  What you should never do is just arbitrarily replace phone numbers on websites!

Why have Hibu’s Google AdWords “Expert”s not discovered this problem?

This was a major red flag on an account that is spending between $12,000 & $15,000 per month on Pay Per Click advertising with Hibu.  I would expect a lot more attention to detail on an account spending this much money. The first thing I noticed when looking at the, very vague, Hibu campaign report was the insanely high (and utterly useless) “Click to Call Ratio”.  The “Click to Call Ratio” percentages reported by Hibu to this customer were:

  1. Campaign A – 62%
  2. Campaign B – 45%
  3. Campaign C – 111%
  4. Campaign D – 31%
  5. Campaign E – 233%
  6. Campaign F – 21%
  7. Campaign G – 35%
  8. Campaign H – 54%
  9. Campaign I – 94%
  10. Campaign J – 22%
  11. Campaign K – 28%
  12. Campaign L – 54%
  13. Campaign M – 58%
  14. Campaign N – 25%

I am not making these numbers up!  There is NO WAY IN HELL that a pay per click campaign is driving that many phone calls to a customers business!

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I then took a look at the call detail report.  When I removed duplicate phone calls and calls under 1 min 30 seconds – the total calls reported by Hibu for the month dropped from 763 down to 225!  Keep in mind – this is the number of ALL CALLS for the month – not just the paid ones.  However – even if you assumed that all 225 of the calls that were left on this report were from paid clicks – you have no way of knowing how many are from existing customers and how many are from potential new customers.  Based on that fact alone, this data is almost useless in telling you how a campaign is performing.  But – forgetting that for a minute – let’s use 225 calls as our number.  Is that worth over $12,000 that the customer spent?  Maybe, maybe not – but doesnt’ Hibu owe it to it’s cusotmers to report ACCURATE #’s and let the custoemr decide?  Even if EVERY one of the phone calls was from a paid click visitor – the real “Cost Per Call” reported by Hibu would be over $53 (and that’s giving them credit for EVERY SINGLE CALL).  The reality is, I doubt even 30% of those calls are from paid visitors and an even smaller percentage of those calls are from potential new clients that were also from a paid source.

Conclusion: 

I realize that this is only one example from one Hibu customer.  It may be jumping the gun a bit but I can’t see how this is an accident.  It is my opinion that Hibu is intentionally misleading customers with these monthly reports in an effort to make customers believe that they are getting great results from these poorly run campaigns.  Do you have a Hibu Pay Per Click Campaign?  What are the click to call ratio’s?

The bottom line is this – if you are paying Hibu to run a pay per click campaign you should seriously consider cancelling your contract as soon as possible.

Disclaimer:  if you are wondering – yes I offer PPC services to my clients.  No I didn’t write this just to get business.  I wrote this so that you will have the information necessary to make good decisions about how you spend your hard earned money – whether you do business with me or not.  That said – if you are interested in how it is that I crush Hibu Pay Per Click campaigns (in both price & performance) – feel free to reach out to me.  I’d love to talk more.  

Chad Musgrove

2 replies
  1. D Mitchell
    D Mitchell says:

    I came across your blog when researching HIBU. I’m not sure if you will still see this message, but at least I’ll feel better if I get it off my chest. I could kick myself for not doing so prior to signing a contract with them but I trusted some other business owners I know that said they were happy. I honestly think they didn’t want to bad mouth the rep that is in the networking group. As the above mentioned, their PPC program is crap. I’m 6 months in and in the last 40 days, guess how calls their campaign generated? THREE!!!!
    I am beyond frustrated and livid. The rep will not call me back or answer my emails.
    Thanks for letting me vent!

    Don M Taylor

    Reply
    • Muskrat37
      Muskrat37 says:

      Hey Don,

      Sorry to hear about the issues. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that often the positive reviews that are left about Hibu (or the recommendations from other business owners) are usually out of ignorance. I truly believe that if small business owners knew about the tactics Hibu uses to “prove” their campaigns are working (reporting duplicate calls, hiding stats that would show these clicks are not from quality visitors, hiding the markup they are charging, advertising on crappy unrelated websites etc.) they would never leave a positive review. Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t know which questions to ask and are ignorant to the amount of information that is available. This leads them to mistakenly believe they are getting a positive return on their investment.

      Another big issue is that a lot of times the website that the clicks are being driven to is not properly optimized to drive forms being filled out or phone calls being generated.

      PPC can be very profitable when run correctly by a competent person.

      Good luck, and feel free to reach out if you’d like an honest review of your campaigns and advice on how they could be run better.

      Chad

      Reply

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