Conversion rates also improved for small business advertisers, with 35.3% of clicks resulting in website conversion action, compared with 32% in Q3 2009 and 26.6% in Q4 2008. Actions are predominantly calls, and also include sending emails or SMS texts, form fills, printed driving directions or video views. The average keyword count per small business advertiser increased by 21% in Q4 2009 over Q3 2009, to an average 67 keywords.
WebVisible CEO, Kirsten Mangers, says "... these numbers show increased confidence by small businesses in using search to gain leads, and increased ability to turn those leads into sales... "
Mangers continued, "... a key is knowing the most cost-effective place to spend those ad dollars... Bing has higher click-through rates and lower costs-per-click than Google... often a better buy."
Click-through rates and cost-per-click did not change significantly on the search engines on a quarter over quarter basis:
Effective with the Q4 2009 study, WebVisible has begun analyzing the spend among different types and sizes of small businesses, segmenting advertisers into five distinct groups based upon their organizational maturity and advertising propensities:
Profile of Segmented Small Businesses
Part_Timers / Newbies
Estimated 5 - 7 million in U.S.
Not in dun & bradstreet database
New businesses with small commercial footprint
Estimated 2.8 - 3.8 million in U.S.
1 employees 0 - 2 years in business <$200k/year in sales
Unknown business/legal type
Estimated 1 - 1.9 million in U.S.
2 to 4 employees 2 - 5 years in business $200k-$400k in sales
Small Business: Generalists
Estimated 0.8 - 1.4 million in U.S.
5 to 24 employees 5+ years in business $500k-$2.4m in sales
Small Business: Managers
Estimated 400,000 - 700,000 in U.S.
25+ employees 5+ years in business $2.5m+ in sales
Source: WebVisible, March 2010
"In most reports and trend stories, all small businesses get lumped into the same category," said Mangers. "But a solo entrepreneur running his architecture business in the evenings is not going to have a lot in common with a 10-person hair salon or a three-location local restaurant chain.
Examination of spend levels by segment revealed that, not surprisingly, larger businesses are more likely to spend more on advertising.
Index of Historical Advertising Spend (1.0 baseline = average spending across all advertisers)
Small business generalists
Small business managers
Source: WebVisible, March 2010
Part-Timers, perhaps with bigger dreams and better funded pockets than Soloists, who depend on their business for income, outspend Soloists by 33%.
Entrepreneurs, who still keep a tight rein on expenses, spend slightly less than average. It is not until a business has more than $500,000 a year in revenue and at least five employees that advertising spending goes above average.
Small Business Managers, who are most likely sales or marketing specialists within their organizations, are dependent on advertising to drive leads to the business and thus spend more than twice the average among all the small businesses included in the study.
The data represents nearly $22 million in U.S. small business advertiser spending in Q4 2009 from more than 12,000 individual advertisers
To follow up with WebVisible for additional information, please visit here.