According to my buds at Silicon Alley Insider MS just released some survey that shows that most small businesses with websites don’t buy search ads.

Some highlights from their analysis:

  • 59% of small businesses with Web sites don’t currently use any paid search marketing
  • Of those, 90% have never even attempted it.
  • 70% of small business owners say they would rather do their own taxes than start a search marketing campaign
  • 86% small business owners felt that they could be missing opportunities to grow their business.
  • 75% believed prospective customers could be searching online for the type of service their business offers.
  • 89 % feared keywords may become too expensive.
  • 81% questioned if paid search marketing is the best use of their marketing budgets.
  • 25% of respondents believe paid search marketing is too complex.
  • 21% thought it would be too time consuming.
  • 25% felt they would need an agency to help set up a search marketing campaign.

Read the whole thing here.

Some other blogs posting about the survey:

Search Engine Watch
Marketing Charts

Of course it might be helpful if Microsoft actually released the survey (or at least a press release about it) so we could see for ourselves.  I guess we third tier bloggers are destined to forever be disintermediated.

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6 Response Comments

  • MaltaMom  December 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    They seem to be conflicted with 86% believing they are missing out but 81% wondering if it the best use of their marketing budget.

  • Andrew Shotland  December 17, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Good catch. It’s basically fear of the unknown and inertia.

  • Stever  December 17, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Really, most small businesses can do well with just organic search rankings and local (Google Maps) listings. Paid search, for the most part, then falls into the realm of those industries with a fair bit of local competition, and in bigger metro areas where there is substantial search traffic, but again if there is substantial competition to deal with.

  • Barbara Bix  December 18, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Then, there’s the survey that might have been done by someone looking at the whole picture–organic search as well as pay per click. Most small businesses can’t afford the SEO consultants and/or the copywriters to do it well and can end up spending a lot of money with little return. On the other hand, they may have the time to break the code for organic search. This small business had much more success organically, than with pay per click and there are probably others out there with similar experiences…

  • Justin  December 18, 2008 at 10:01 am

    SMEs do not buy SEM. They are sold SEM.

    Together, traditional local ad providers likely represent 4 MM+ SMEs .

    SMEs might know they are utilizing SEM but they are, and if it is not to drive clicks to profile or web pages, it certainly is in purchased traffic that drives to multi-advertiser results pages.

    Where there is eyeballs, there is feeding.

  • Andrew Shotland  December 18, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Well put Justin. I doubt many SMEs think about their yellow page/local search buys as a coop buy with their competition, but in a sense that’s what they are.

    An intriguing thing about the Web is that SMEs who understand how to use search (SEO, SMO, paid, etc.) can do an end-run on these co-op buys and get their own traffic.

    Of course just as most SMEs are not going to produce their own print directories, most are not going to try to do Web marketing on their own either. Which is likely why you always seem in such a good mood whenever I encounter you at a conference 🙂