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Saturday December 20, 2008

AdWords can help SMEs grow ops

By EILEEN HEE


GOOGLE has the right tools to help small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) grow their businesses beyond the local market by taking advantage of the power of the Internet via AdWords, according to its head of online and reseller sales (South-East Asia) Charif El Ansari.

He says online marketing is a strategic business planning tool for entrepreneurs to consider in view of the current economic downturn.

“Fresh cost-effective marketing efforts are needed to create new revenue streams and this is where search engine marketing could be the best solution there is for any company,” he tells StarBizWeek.

AdWords is Google’s flagship advertising product and main source of revenue, with the company recording US$16.6bil in 2007. It offers pay-per-click advertising, and site-targeted advertising for both text and banner ads.

“Google’s text advertisements are short, consisting of one title line and two content text lines, and its AdWords programme includes local, national, and international distribution,” he says.

Advertisers specify the words that should trigger their ads and the maximum amount they are willing to pay per click. When a user searches Google’s search engine on www.google.com.my or the relevant local/national Google search websites, ads for relevant words are shown as “sponsored links” on the right side of the screen, and sometimes above the main search results.

“Online marketing is an engine for business growth in Malaysia and beyond the local market,” Charif says.

He says the tool is becoming exceedingly efficient because of its reach and relevance as it is “targeted and measurable”.

“Advertisers are able to maximise the return on their investment as they will be provided with reports and data that enable them to see how their advertisements are performing,” he says.

They can also track how their advertisement is displayed in relation to other ads, what keywords are searched that generate the ad display and suggest additional keywords that could be added to the AdWords account to generate more displays of the ad.

The cost effectiveness of the tool would enable advertisers to stay within limited budget because of the cost-per-click model, he says.

“With the cost-per-click option, you’re only charged if people click your ads. This means every dollar of your budget goes toward bringing in new prospects,” he says.

“Generally, most local SMEs have a small marketing budget to promote their products and services as a large part of their budget is focused on manufacturing and/or production.”

A true believer in the power of the internet, InMagine, a leading Malaysian supplier and distributor of digital stock photography, has gone global to find new customers via Google AdWords.

Stephanie Sitt, the co-founder of the company, says traffic to its website increased by 170% with a return on investment of 115% last year.

“We have started using Google AdWords since 2002 and have not looked back since as every ringgit we invested in AdWords generated RM10 in sales. InMagine has found customers from all over the world, particularly from the US,” she says.

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