Think online advertising is too difficult, too expensive and not for you? Think again. Here's some interesting holiday reading, kindly provided by Guest Blogger Cedric Chambaz, who is the Marketing Manager for Microsoft adCenter here in the UK. And if the statistics don't persuade you to give it a go, maybe the offer of £30's worth of free clicks will - you can do a lot with that!
Research: Small businesses build online presence, but waste their money on hidden websites
Microsoft adCenter has just published a piece of research in the US that looks into how small and medium businesses (SMBs) are embracing online and search marketing. Interestingly enough, the results from our cousins across the pond are quite consistent with UK research, which was commissioned a few months back in the UK.
On the one hand there is a growing interest from small businesses on how they can leverage digital mechanisms to increase their visibility. Around 2.79 million small businesses now have an online presence, yet on the other hand, a staggering 62% do not invest in search marketing campaigns to help potential customers find them online. This is for me the equivalent to owning a shop hidden down a side street and not advertising its whereabouts. In other words, the UK research showed that these businesses are collectively wasting an estimated £3 billion of investment on websites that are virtually invisible to consumers searching online.
But why are SMBs stopping half way through? Both UK and US results demonstrate a series of misconceptions about search marketing. Some 78% of UK SMBs not conducting search marketing are aware of the web-based tools available to them, yet 92% of those businesses have not even attempted to set up a campaign. 44% think it would be too time consuming; 56% think it might be too expensive; and 33% too complicated. However, 76% of SMBs promoting their website on search engines see an immediate increase in sales. So where lays the truth?
Going online for good, and the better
Let's face it, online is not critical to every single business. Your online presence is thus likely to span from the mere placeholder page, informing your prospect of your contact details and location, to the more sophisticated e-commerce solution. But if you decide to bring all or part of your activity online, then you need to make sure that your site is found. Search Marketing is widely acknowledged as the ideal channel to reach targeted, niche or local audiences in a cost-efficient way.
Just like the phone book advert back in the old days, Search Marketing consists in putting your ad in front of prospects who are proactively looking for your product, except that now you no longer have to pay upfront. Search Marketing works on a pay-per-click model, so you are only charged a small fee when a prospect clicks on your ad to visit your website. And you actually decide how much that cost is. Search Marketing works indeed like an auction: you define the maximum amount you are prepared to pay for a qualified lead - the minimum being just a few pennies. You can even define a monthly budget so you are in total control, at all times.
So to conclude, let me burst a few myths:
- Myth 1: Over a third of respondents think it would take a day or more to set up a campaign. In reality, the time taken from opening an account to it going live can take as little as 10 minutes.
- Myth 2: Some 56% cite cost as a top reason why SMBs will not invest, with a quarter of all SMBs thinking the best keywords are already taken. Actually, SMBs can invest as little as 10-20 pence per click or a monthly budget of around £5.
- Myth 3: Many SMB are put off by the idea that it sounds too complicated - with the overwhelming majority (89%) thinking it was more difficult than online banking or tax. However, SMBs can easily manage accounts from their desk and are likely to see immediate results from just a few simple keywords.
But don't take my word for granted, experience it by yourself. We have set up a site, tryadcenternow.co.uk, where you will receive a free £30 credit to get started on us.
More resources on adCenter:
- adCenter Demo site for a step-by-step guide to managing your campaign.
- adCenter Community blog to get the latest tips and tricks for campaign management and tracking
- Microsoft adCenter Labs to stay ahead of consumer trends
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND BEST WISHES FOR 2009 FROM ALL AT MICROSOFT SMALL BUSINESS CENTRE