Technology For Business Sake Blog

Are Small Businesses Being Priced out of Search Engine Marketing?

Posted by Brent Leary on Thu, Jan 18, 2007 @ 11:24 AM

Tags: smb, adsense, smallbusiness, entrepreneur, google, adwords

Dharmesh Shah had an interesting post a few days ago over at the Small Business 2.0 blog you should check out.  He offers up his views on how small businesses should approach search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO), now that more and more large enterprises are shifting a bigger portion of their advertising dollars to online activities like SEM.  Dharmesh references a recent article titled "The Small Fry Sour On Search Ads." 

Really the move to SEM by the big guys was inevitable as more and more success stories began to crop up.  And just like any other part of business, things change.  The early days of managing SEM campaigns has probably come to a close.  That doesn't mean that small businesses still can't find success with it, it means you're approach will need to be adjusted. And those small businesses who are just dipping their toes in to SEM it's extremely important to know what it's going to take to be successful now as compared to years (and even months) past.  I found this comment (posted by someone using the nickname of on the BusinessWeek site to get right to the point:

"Some of the PPC newbie mistakes that we see even in Fortune 500 companies: * Use of less-targeted content networks for campaigns * Negative keywords not used * Lack of geo-targeting for local/regional companies * Short keyword list * Bad, inappropriate landing pages * Few ads for very, different keyword groups * No conversion tracking All of these options, when not used, waste budgets quickly. When experienced professionals create campaigns with these options, there is generally high ROI. SEM is relatively new and more complex than print, TV campaigns, etc., hence the negative article comments. Also, no perspective given on other media costs versus ROI... Much of the old media is non-trackable and/or poorly tracked."

So I would say the rules of engagement have changed for small businesses.  It's definitely become more challenging and complex.  But if you know what you're doing, or hire in someone who does, you can still find success.  And as Dharmesh says, search engine optimization should strongly be considered as an equally important tool for lead gen and brand building.  You also have to take a hard look at social media optimization to garner attention for your business.  Now that's a lot to take on but it's worthwhile to find the right mix of activities for your company to create the kind of opportunities you're company will need to succeed.
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Online Marketing for the Offline Small Business

Posted by Brent Leary on Wed, Dec 13, 2006 @ 03:16 PM

Tags: smb, quickbooks, marketing, adsense, smallbusiness, email, google, adwords

I recently had the pleasure of delivering the keynote presentation at a small business CRM/Call Center/Contact Management conference in Louisville, Ky last week. There were approximately one hundred or so folks in attendance and I would say the majority of them worked in or owned business employing less than fifty employees. A good number of them had businesses participating in traditional, boring, “low-tech” industries. You know, the kind that built (and is still building) this country.

I was very happy with the reception my presentation received from the folks, but I could tell that many of the things I talked about were not too familiar to the audience. So my whole Web 2.0/Social Media Optimization/Business Web spin on finding, catching and keeping good customers may have been a little over the top. But I think it did help some attendees understand an important message they needed hear: Even though your business is not “high tech”, you still can benefit greatly by using Web 2.0 technologies.

That theme really resonated with one business owner who runs a manufacturing operation with thirty employees. Currently she has no website, but realizes the value of having one as she is doing more and more networking, and feels that having a site to point people to will generate more interest. But what about those folks she doesn’t meet face to face who are looking for the services she provides? Don’t they have just as much potential to become customers as those she meets at the trade shows and networking events? These questions can also be posed to printers, cleaning services, lawn care providers and other traditional businesses. But many of these “traditionalists” don’t think tools like search engine marketing are really for them. I beg to differ……

So I had the traditionalists in mind when we had Emily White, Google’s director on online sales and operations, on the show to discuss search engine marketing (SEM) and its usefulness to small businesses. Below are a few quick snippets from the thirty minute interview that should change a few minds.
  1. SEM is definitely not just for high-tech businesses

  1. How using SEM working inside Quickbooks can help get you online faster

  1. How CRM + SEM = $$$ for small businesses

  1. A few short tips for converting online leads to offline deals

Now it’s easier than ever for your offline business to get big benefits from online tools and services like SEM. And it will get easier and easier as time goes by, but it’s important to get started now, or fall further behind as more and more businesses beat you to the punch.

To hear the whole interview with Emily, click here.
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