Search Advertising Services for Small Business

Thursday Aug 5th 2010 by Stuart J. Johnston
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American Express and Clickable partner to provide small businesses with a search advertising platform built especially for them.

Many small businesses believe they don't have the budget or expertise to take advantage of search advertising, at least not from major players like Google's AdWords, Yahoo's Search Marketing, and Microsoft's adCenter.

Now, however, American Express (NYSE: AXP) OPEN and Clickable have partnered to create a search advertising engine specifically for small businesses, providing one-stop-shopping for those three major advertising engines and others, including Facebook Ads.

"Our research shows that 71 percent of small businesses are not spending money on search engine marketing," Rob Ciccone, vice president of American Express OPEN, told Small Business Computing.

"It can be confusing and difficult to get started, and it can also be very complex keeping up with the evolving market," Ciccone said. "Most small businesses just don't have time."

SearchManager, which is available now, lets small business persons manage multiple search-engine advertising campaigns and view results from a single location with a common user console, so that they don't have to log into the individual sites one by one.

Enter SearchManager

SearchManager is built on Clickable's established Clickable Platform, which comes in two versions.

A self-managed version of the service, called SearchManager Pro, is designed for small businesses that are already handling their own search advertising, but would like the commonality and convenience of using a single dashboard to accomplish their tasks.

No matter which service the small business subscribes to, SearchManager provides useful metrics accessible via the engine's central dashboard.

"Through cross-engine visibility, small businesses have a summary of campaigns via one straightforward dashboard with key metrics, offering them an analysis of results and advice on potential improvements," an American Express statement said.

The dashboard lets you check trend reports, follow keyword and ad reports, follow conversion rates, and launch, track, and optimize ad campaign performance. SearchManager provides a selection of standard PDF or Excel reports that you can customize to your needs, according to the American Express statement.

"You can set date ranges, choose entities to report on, and select the metrics you want to report on. PDF reports allow you to add charts and graphs with a simple drag-and-drop interface, and you can even build custom metrics with the Excel Performance Report."

Assisted Search Advertising

Meanwhile, small business persons who prefer the help of a living, breathing expert can sign up for SearchManager Assist.

SearchManager Assist is what Clickable describes as "a premium online advertising service that delivers just the right amount of assistance to ensure online marketing success."

It includes all of the services available in SearchManager Pro, plus a menu of services for the less technically-minded small business person who wants someone else to do the heavy lifting.

"Whether you require full-service search engine and social media management, ongoing optimization advice, or campaign launch training, SearchManager Assist offers tiers of help directly tailored to your business," a statement on Clickable's site said.

What that means for the customer is that he or she can pay for everything from complete outsourcing of search advertising marketing, to advice on how to better manage ongoing marketing, to training on launching successful campaigns.

"They [small businesses] need to save time and also improve the measurement of results," Ciccone said. "Over time, they can bring it in house and do it themselves," he added.

The Cost of Search Advertising

SearchManager Pro costs about $49 per month for small businesses with total search ad spending of $1,000 or less each month. For ad spending higher than $1,000 per month, the charge is 5 percent of monthly advertising spending.

American Express OPEN is currently offering a 30-day free trial.

Meanwhile, SearchManager Assist has more of an ala carte menu.

For example, small business customers who merely want the standard offering -- also referred to as "co-management" -- and are in the market for strategic guidance on how to better use search advertising -- can pay 8 percent of their monthly ad spending, or a minimum $899 monthly fee.

The next step up, dubbed premium service, provides outsourced search engine management campaign creation and management, the SearchManager site said. That level of service will set you back 10 percent of monthly ad spending or a minimum monthly fee of $1,999.

Finally, if you're in the market for so-called elite service, which American Express refers to as "full-scale service," you'll have to call for a quote. Whereas, the two lower tiers provide a number of services, such as account, ad copy, or keyword recommendations on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, elite service provides those services "continuously."

If you're interested in American Express OPEN's SearchManager services, check out the SearchManager site.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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