If you’re an Office Live customer who has been using the adManager service, you’ll have been disappointed to have received notification that it’s to be discontinued.

However, you can still very easily promote your website with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising (also sometimes called search marketing).

But before drilling into PPC advertising, let’s dispel some popular myths heard back from recent research with UK small businesses. Of 400 businesses questioned, 44% of those not doing search marketing believed it was too time-consuming; 56% thought it too expensive; and 33% too complicated.

The reality is that :

· 76% of those who were promoting their website on search engines saw an immediate increase in sales.

· From opening an account to seeing it go live can take as little as 10 minutes.

· You can start by investing as little as 10 pence per click or a monthly budget of around £5.

· Your account can be easily managed from your desk, showing immediate results from a few simple keywords.

Signing up for PPC is easy:

· First, create an account online with the search engine platform on which you wish your ad to be featured. Microsoft’s is called adCenter and it not only reaches a large proportion of web users from a wide demographic base, but also allows you to target by location, age, gender and even time of day. Your ad will be shown to internet users who have searched using one of Microsoft’s websites like Live.com, MSN, Windows Live Hotmail or Messenger.

· Next write your ad. Keep your ad copy short and sweet so as to make it memorable, using the same language as your audience, with a clear call to action.

· Lastly, enter the keyword(s) that best describe your product or service. Remember, every day millions of people type keywords into search engines to find the products and services they’re looking for, so think in their terms. Microsoft’s adCenter has a tool to help you select keywords most relevant for your business. For example, if you’re a florist in Liverpool, don’t just enter “florist” as you’ll be competing with big national players; instead, try “Liverpool florist” or “Liverpool wedding bouquet”.

· Having set up your account, written the ad and chosen keywords, it’s time to start bidding. With PPC advertising, you ‘bid’ for your chosen keywords. Decide upfront the maximum cost you’re prepared to pay each time someone clicks on your ad, bearing in mind that the position on the page depends on how much you’re prepared to pay for a lead, compared with other bidders. Whoever bids the most for a keyword (e.g. “florist”) will appear at the top of the page (and therefore stand a greater chance of being seen and clicked). Whilst being top is good, you don't always need to be there to get your ads to work. Prices per click range from as low as 10p up to several pounds for very popular search terms. Another good point for low budget advertisers is that search engines factor in the quality of your advertisement. Search engines exist to provide the most relevant results to their visitors, and clicks on your ad are a fair indicator that what you offer is relevant. As a result, the next time a search occurs on your keyword, you could outperform advertisers bidding more but with a historically less attractive advert.

Take a look at the website: www.tryadcenternow.co.uk, where you’ll find free £30 credit to get started. A dedicated UK-based support team will help get you under way and answer any questions you may have, all free of charge.

This is a guest blog from Cedric Chambaz, SMB Marketing Manager at Microsoft Advertising

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