10 years ago, advertising was the preserve of large businesses with big marketing budgets. In fact a whole ecosystem of marketing and advertising agencies would make money designing, testing and implementing expensive advertising campaigns.
Today however things are vastly different and you can spend much less money, and still reach millions using search engine advertising. In line with these changes, Google and Bing, in particular, have made online advertising easy to use and available to all businesses, even those with smaller budgets.
In fact I would go as far as to say that being 'On Google' is increasingly seen by many businesses as something they need to do to be credible and Adwords is the quickest way of getting there.
But does search engine advertising actually work? Does it create more sales opportunities and drive more business? According to a recent survey we ran with YouGov, only 18% of SMEs who use Google Adwords can actually recoup the cost of their investment. 82% either don't make enough sales to cover the cost of advertising or just don't know.
This chimes with our own experience. Last year we spend £36k on Google Adwords, which generated around 13'000 visits to our website, which you might is feel is good. Indeed our Marketing agency was pleased with the results, especially in a market which is pretty competitive. However because we actually track the number of leads we generate, along with the lead source, and which of these actually convert into sales, I know we actually made sales of just £5k from our Google Adwords campaign, by far the worst performing marketing activity in our business.
What was most interesting in the survey we put together was that over half of businesses really didn't have any idea if their online advertising was working or not. This indicates that these organisations are just spending money, not knowing if it is worthwhile or not. Considering the vast number of tools available to businesses today, this is just foolish. By implementing a CRM tool like workbooks.com it really is very easy to track which leads are generated from online advertising and then measure the return on investment. If you are using Workbooks already and want to understand how to track online leads, we would encourage you to read this article. (http://www.workbooks.com/forum/integrating-workbooks-crm-google-analytic...)
If you are spending any significant money on Google advertising you really need to look beyond the data you get from the Adwords tools, to see if the leads generated really turn into sales.
If you use a marketing agency to run your Adwords (or SEO) challenge them to justify the spend and really measure ROI. We even provide a free 2 user version which allows agencies to use our service for free so they really have no excuse.
The ROI on our Google Adwords campaign this year is better, we are now getting about x1.5 our investment, not great but definitely an improvement.