Study: Taxes Less Scary Than Search Campaigns
The anonymous online survey of 400 U.S. businesses with less than 250 employees conducted in April by Culver City, Calif.-based Kelton Research reveals that many small businesses have built Web sites to attract consumers, but stop short of deploying search marketing campaigns.
Web design tools like Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Expression, Google Blogger and Wetpaint help small businesses build sites, but only 41% of survey participants said they rely on Internet search marketing to help consumers find them. Nine in 10 businesses that have an online presence, but do not currently use search marketing, have never given it a try. When it comes to finding new customers, 86% said the most popular method for small business owners is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth.
When the small business owner sets up the campaign and gets to the page where they make keyword selections, it's important to have a human being on the other end of the phone to help them, according to Brian Boland, director at Microsoft Advertising's adCenter.
Known for its desktop software, Microsoft Advertising developed a program called adCenter Desktop that lets people manage campaigns from a desktop tool. "You pull reports and make changes to keywords and bid--very software-centric so you don't have to spend time learning a Web user interface," Boland said. The desktop tool, introduced in June, should officially emerge from beta in the first half of 2009.
Aside from adCenter, Google AdWords and Yahoo Sponsored Search also strive to make search marketing easy for small businesses. Many owners realize they are missing out on opportunities, but find it too complex and stressful to set up a plan. In fact, 89% are afraid that search marketing keywords might become too expensive, and 81% admit they are afraid that search marketing isn't the best use of their marketing budget. Of those with an online presence, more than 92% worry that search marketing costs could get out of control.
Cost is not the only thing that concerns small business owners. Imagining that their competitors might click away on their ads in an effort to drive up costs has also made small business owners leery of search marketing. Nearly 58% admit that they worry the competition might expose them to click fraud. Other things preventing small business owners from setting up a search marketing plan on their own include lacking the confidence in their ability, as well as it being too time-consuming and expensive.
Of those who use search marketing, 72% said they have seen an increase in sales inquiries. Nearly 68% consider their search marketing efforts successful.