Local Businesses Bungle Their SEM Campaigns and Blame AdWords
February 20, 2017 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
According to “613 small business owners who use Google AdWords” surveyed, “40 percent . . . stated that their use of AdWords hadn’t directly yielded any new business leads, while an additional 33 percent said AdWords produced very few leads.”
In other words, 73% of these business owners told Manta that AdWords hadn’t performed at all or had under-performed. This is a dramatic finding.
The report doesn’t offer any in-depth discussion about why performance (or perceptions) were so negative. It also doesn’t discuss whether these were self-managed campaigns or whether they were being managed by third party agencies. Finally we don’t have any sense of whether AdWords Express (Google’s self-driving car for SEM) was involved.
It strongly implies that these accounts may have been self-managed. It also points out the broader components of a successful SEM campaign were not in place. These businesses had few reviews, their sites weren’t mobile-friendly and most had not claimed their listings in GMB:
The majority of these respondents also reported their online presence does not meet key preconditions for the robust search presence that leads to success. Sixty-two percent, for example, said they didn’t have a mobile-optimized website, while nearly two-thirds reported not claiming their business’ Google listing. And a mere 8 percent of AdWords users surveyed said they had customer reviews on Google.
All of this is suggestive of a lack of sophistication about online marketing in general.
Many small businesses set up SEM campaigns because it’s relatively easy to do so and search is a critical medium that everyone uses. But the campaigns inevitably under-perform or don’t perform because of a lack of skill. Business owners may also not have any idea of what keywords to bid on or how much to bid. In addition, these self-marketers don’t have the time to develop the necessary expertise to run successful campaigns. They also don’t A/B test or optimize based on data.
After their campaigns fail to produce results they blame the system/channel/platform rather than themselves or their lack of expertise. These “once-burned” SMBs also likely become harder for Google partners to sell AdWords to later.
One open question is: how common is this experience? Does this represent a small fraction of the overall market or a meaningful segment? And when you add to that group the number of SMBs who’ve been subjected to poorly managed SEM from third parties it creates a problem for the “AdWords brand” longer term.
I don’t have any good recommendations or quick fixes here. I’d be interested in your thoughts about:
- How widespread is the problem identified?
- Are Google partners/resellers encountering challenges because of previous negative self-service AdWords experiences?
- What can/should be done about any of this?
- What should Google do?