Is your small business intimidated by search marketing?

While small businesses are investing heavily in improving their online presence, over half don’t use paid search marketing (SEM).

Out of the number of small businesses that have websites, 59% don’t currently use paid search marketing and of those, 90% have never even attempted it, according to a survey by Microsoft Advertising.

Despite their concerns, businesses that utilize paid search marketing are satisfied with their decision. Almost three-quarters (72%) reported an increase in sales inquiries and 68% said they consider their paid SEM efforts successful.

Topping the list of major concerns about search marketing campaigns, participants cited cost, time and complexity. Other findings included:

  • 89% feared keyword research might become too expensive.
  • 81% questioned whether paid search marketing is the best use of their marketing budgets.
  • 25% believed paid search marketing is too complex.
  • 21% think it is too time-consuming.
  • 35% feel they need an agency to set up a search marketing campaign.

The survey also revealed that despite the lack of investment in paid search marketing, the economic downturn and increased competition, 86% of small-business owners felt they’re missing valuable opportunities to grow their business online. Three quarters of those surveyed believed prospective customers might be searching online for the type of service or product their business offers.

“These opinions run counter to widely held marketing industry views on paid search marketing, which recognize the practice as one of the most cost-effective, easy-to-use, measurable and accountable forms of marketing,” said Brian Boland, director of adCenter at Microsoft Advertising. “Given today’s current economic conditions, small-business owners need more effective ways to optimize their marketing dollars. By investing in paid search marketing, small businesses can track online sales and determine the return on investment for their campaigns, while at the same time boosting traffic and visibility for their websites.”

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