United State Congress|
House Committee on Small Business
Subcommittee on Regulations, Health Care and Trade
Hearing on the Impact of Online Advertising on Small Firms
10:00 a.m., Wednesday, June 25, 2008 Room 1539 Longworth HOB
Chairman Gonzalez, Ranking
Member Westmoreland, and members of the Subcommittee. Good
morning. Thank you for asking me to appear on this panel. My name
is Rob Snell. I'm from Starkville, Mississippi.
I'm here today to talk about
how the search engine marketing has transformed my family's business,
my clients' businesses, and to show how other
small businesses can take advantage of this effective and affordable
way to drive visitors to their Web sites.
These days I wear quite
a few hats. I am co-owner of Gun Dog Supply, our family retail business that sells
supplies for hunting dogs.
I'm also the managing
partner of Snell
the consulting company my brother, Steve Snell, and I started that helps some of
the 45,000 Yahoo! Store owners with their online marketing.
For example, San Antonio, TX, business owner Scott Moore of SouthwestPublicSafety.com
is a client.
A couple of years ago I wrote
a book on Yahoo! Store: Starting a Yahoo! Business
For Dummies." I've
included information from a few of the marketing chapters
at the end of my written testimony for your review.
Today, I'm going to share
real numbers with you, so you can see the impact of search marketing
on a real small business in dollars and cents. Every year OUR Yahoo!
Stores get millions of visitors from the search engines. Most
from free search traffic, lots from paid search ads. Tens
of thousands of those visitors convert into paying customers. This year
we will sell over $10 million dollars through several different Yahoo! Stores.
We use the Internet to leverage strengths of small business retailers:
-- unparalleled product knowledge,
-- enthusiasm for what we sell and do,
-- and outstanding customer
service and support.
Bigger retailers cannot
compete when we go head to head, product to product. They
sell too many things!
My parents, Warner & Anne
started GUN DOG SUPPLY, back in 1972 on their kitchen table in
Jackson, MS. They ran tiny display ads
in hunting dog magazines and went full time with the business in late
1970s. Slowly, the business changed to a retail store with less
emphasis on mail order sales. Business was good.
In 1996, Petsmart opened across the street. 50% of our
competitors went out of business overnight. And our sales
dropped, too. We dusted off our mailing list and put together a
new catalog. Unfortunately, we lost money on every single catalog sent.
In 1997, I built a 5-page Web
site. I wrote a killer Yahoo! directory listing, and we started getting tons
of visitors. We had to figure out how to sell online and fast.
Fortunately, we found the online store builder which is now Yahoo! Store.
For my family, selling on the Internet has literally changed our world. We went from a retail company doing $400,000 a year and struggling to make payroll to a multi-Million dollar retailer in a few short years. How? 95% of our marketing is online advertising. And 95% of that is search marketing.
Search marketing is the one-two punch of getting free search traffic and buying paid search ads.
-- To get more free search
traffic, you write good content and perform search engine optimization
(or SEO) on your Web site to rank better and get more clicks.
-- For even more traffic,
buy paid search ads to insure YOU control your advertising
message, and you're not at the mercy of shifting search engine ranking
SUCCEEDING W/ FREE SEARCH
The secret to our initial success
with the search engines back in 1997 was using all the text
content from our print catalog in our online
catalog. Those 50 pages of text content covering hundreds of products
would help us sell everything from dog training collars to retriever dummies.
Originally, half of our traffic
came from banner advertising and the other half was free traffic
from search engines, but I liked search traffic better. With search
engine visitors I could tell WHERE the traffic came from
and WHAT keywords folks were searching for, especially buyers.
This information was gold!
Another order would come in
with a search for "retriever training
and they would buy some training dummies, and/or a book or video on
I caught on pretty quick that
converting keywords were important. People were buying
the things they were searching for, so I started to obsess over our
KEYWORDS that buyers used and improving their free search engine
Here's how: For example, say
I want to rank better in the FREE SEARCH results for "orange
dog collars." First I choose a page on my store that's ABOUT
orange dog collars. Then I put the words "orange dog collars"
in the TITLE of the page and in the text ON the page. Finally, I link
to that page from other pages with the words "orange dog collars"
in the link text.
PROFITING FROM PAID SEARCH
If free search is good, paid search is even better. With an online store, a small retailer can instantly have access to millions of potential customers. With as little as a $5 deposit in a Google Adwords account, you can buy targeted advertising on specific keywords and get instant traffic to your Web site.
-- Retailers can run national ad campaigns targeted ONLY to folks searching for what they sell. Imagine doing that with TV.
-- With paid search, you
can buy ads but only for keyword searches
relevant to YOUR product mix. And retailers with physical stores
can also target their ads to run
ONLY in the specific geographic markets
But which one? Paid or free? I believe you should buy paid search
ads EVEN when you already rank well in the free search results.
Almost 40 percent of the traffic from the Big Four
search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Ask) comes from paid
search ads. Someone is getting that traffic.
When do you get
2 chances to make an impression with a prospect who
is ready to buy RIGHT NOW? It's like buying an
ad in the newspaper that runs right next to your feature story. You
can't control what they write about you in the paper, but the ad is
Selling on the Internet via
an online catalog is much cheaper than sending catalogs through the
mail. Advertising on the Internet is more cost effective than any other
medium we've tried.
Search marketing is extremely
efficient because you are ONLY marketing to those interested
in your products. Search marketing is the least obtrusive form of advertising
as the customer is literally asking for your ads when they perform a
In my experience, NO other
marketing method can touch search engine marketing for targeting
the right prospects in the right places at the right time - when
folks are ready to buy.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before this committee. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.