The SME Knowledge Gap for PPC

Microsoft Partner Network

We saw in a earlier blog that SMEs are enamoured with SEO and that they are often using Organic Social Media, but they seem less interested in PPC. Let’s delve into more detail on why this might be. For many SMEs they simply feel that PPC is less relevant to their business (43%). Reasons underlying this perception typically group PPC rejectors into one of three categories:

• ‘Diminutive’ SMEs – “We’re a local company”, “we’re a small company”
• ‘Cost conscious’ SMEs – “poor return on investment” , “wouldn’t reach our customers”
• ‘Happy as we are’ SMEs – “we use word of mouth”

Whilst many SMEs have reservations about PPC, there is simultaneously a tacit admission of a lack of knowledge. When those who have not used PPC are asked what would make them consider using it in the future, the top factor to emerge was:

learning more about how it works

It’s a common cliché that we’re scared of the unknown; accordingly it appears that SMEs would be much more likely to use PPC if they just knew a bit more about it.

This is backed-up by the fact that the most digital-savvy SMEs – the ‘leaders’ – are significantly more likely to be using PPC (59% compared to 25% overall). Once you’ve reached a level of sophistication in digital marketing, the benefits of PPC come to the fore. More information on the six groups of SME behavior can be found here 

PPC Usage

It may help to close the knowledge gap if SMEs were to work with specialist agencies when it came to PPC. Currently 78% of those who use PPC work directly with the search engine as opposed to only 16% who work with agencies. These agencies have the potential to inform and guide SMEs on the challenges and opportunities of PPC, helping them to ultimately enjoy its bounty.

However, in order for this to happen there needs to be an improvement in relationships between SMEs and agencies. At the moment there are low levels of trust, with only one in five SMEs (18%) saying they trust SEO and PPC agencies; a situation that they want to change! After ‘learning more about how it works’, the top factor that would encourage more SMEs to use PPC in the future is ‘Finding a partner or agency I would trust to do this for us’. SMEs are searching for an agency that they can trust to guide them through the complicated world of PPC, and in doing so overcome the knowledge gap that is currently causing them to miss out on its benefits.

So if we remove knowledge as a barrier, what would remain of the other challenges we previously saw? Would these remain as a real barrier, or vanish as phantom misperceptions? Earlier we saw that there were three groups of SME PPC-doubters: ‘cost conscious’, ‘diminutive’ and ‘happy as we are’. Let’s put the ‘happy as we are’ group to one side; this group rejects PPC due to the ‘lifestyle’ nature of their businesses that they are happy to keep relatively small, rather than due to any concerns about PPC; instead, let’s delve deeper into the remaining two groups: the cost conscious {read here} and the diminutive SME {blog coming soon}.

All stats within this blog has been taken from the Digital SME Survey whitepaper. Which can be downloaded for free here