The handful of SEM companies that we work with at Palore make millions of calls to Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) every year. This raises the question of whether the market for SMB online advertising is saturated, and how much room there is for growth.
A good (albeit somewhat simplistic) way of answering that question is by looking at how many SMBs are currently marketing themselves online, and more importantly, how many are not. It is this latter group, local business owners who still don’t advertise or otherwise promote themselves online, that defines the room for growth in this industry.
In this post, I will share some statistics on what local businesses from two categories – dentists and limo drivers – are currently doing in one small US market. The following charts present their online activity, based on a project we ran in the Alexandria, VA area, covering over 60K businesses. The data covers these local businesses’ activities on the top search engines, Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) and local search sites.
I’ll start with some definitions: “Widely listed” means businesses that appear (even as free listings) on at least half of the leading search engines, IYPs and local directories. “Have website” means businesses that have their website listed on one of the above directories (there may be additional businesses with websites, but these did not appear on any of the main directories.) We assume that the other labels are self explanatory.
The blue section shows how many businesses fall into each category, while the orange section shows the portion of businesses that do not – for example, 48% of Alexandria dentists have a website, while 52% do not.
Obviously, there is more to online marketing than being widely listed and having a website – there is a myriad of effective techniques, from adding a video to properly optimizing your site for search engines. However, this snapshot does capture only one aspect of online involvement by these SMBs.
Getting back to the original question, I would argue that if the orange areas represents the growth opportunity for both SMBs and marketers, then the answer is a resounding “Yes”, and further, the growth opportunity in online marketing for SMBs is significant, and “No”, the market is still far from being saturated.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.