Mike Doman: What sort of ROI can people expect to see from search engine marketing campaigns? And what sort of investment is required?
Richard Flanagan: Of course, everyone’s ROI is different. The key point is that you will always be able to judge what this is, because the internet helps you measure and track it. In AdWords, you can set a maximum cost per acquisition for your campaign, so you can effectively set a target ROI.
The best way for you to maximise their return is to think carefully about the keywords you advertise against: typically, the more targeted your keywords, the cheaper your campaign. You can also choose when they are shown: if your cafe specialises in brunch, you can stop serving ads after midday. Or if you sell coffee to city workers, you can choose to advertise on weekdays only, and target your ads to people searching in the CBD.
MD: What tools are available to SMBs that can help them understand their audiences?
RF: One of the big benefits of online marketing is data. But all the data in the world is useless unless you interpret it and use it to make your business better. That’s where Google Analytics comes in. This is a free product that lets you know how many people are looking at your website, how much time they are spending there, which products they are looking at and where they have come from. If you are serious about online marketing, you should be serious about analytics.
MD: How is Google positioning itself to serve small to medium sized businesses in the future?
RF: Technology should help people, not get in the way. Cloud computing takes care of a lot of the complexities of technology, meaning business owners can focus on their business rather than on IT. Business technology does not have to be clunky: we want people to be able to work the way they live.
MD: From your perspective, what sort of trends are you seeing in the small business space when it comes to online marketing?
RF: That’s easy: mobile. According to Morgan Stanley, 91 per cent of people keep their mobile within three feet of them, 24/7, 365 days a year.
Mobile is [also] changing the way people shop: one in three Australians look for product information on their mobile on a weekly basis. Small businesses that cater to mobile customers will really benefit in 2015.
MD: What are the most underutilised Google products by small businesses, and how can they help small businesses operate?
RF: I think there is huge unmet potential for small and medium-sized businesses to do more on YouTube.
People love watching videos online: after Google, YouTube is the largest search engine in the world, with over one billion global visitors every month.
Setting up a channel for your business is free and many local businesses have found new customers by posting ‘how to’ videos in their specialist area - whether it’s tips on how to buy a used car, or how to fix a broken blind, people are hungry for information. You can introduce your business to them in a way that is immediately helpful.