American Express OPEN Launches SEM Tool For SMBs

American Express OPEN has taken the wraps off of SearchManager, its latest digital tool for SMBs.
American Express OPEN has taken the wraps off of SearchManager, its latest digital tool for SMBs.The hosted application is aimed at helping small businesses navigate the choppy waters of search-engine marketing, or SEM.

Although Forrester Research reports that search advertising will increase by 15% each year for the next four years, American Express OPEN's own research revealed that more than 70% of small-business owners aren't spending money on this type of marketing. According to Rob Ciccone, vice president of American Express OPEN, that's because SEM is complex and most SMBs don't have the time or resources to invest in understanding and managing it. Enter SearchManager, which allows small businesses to manage their paid campaigns across all search engines in one place.

At the core of the product is the Dashboard, which users can click on to see at a glance how much they're spending and making at each search engine. The tool also provides daily recommendations for how SMBs can tweak their campaigns to get the most bang for their buck. SearchManager might suggest, for example, that a user change their ad copy or lower their bid on a particular keyword. Users then have the option to act on a recommendation or ignore it. "SearchManager uses about 100 different algorithms to analyze SEM campaigns," says Bill Masterson, vice president of sales at Clickable, an online advertising platform. "It distills all this data into easy-to-read, easy-to-act-on recommendations that SMBs can follow to optimize their search-marketing campaigns."

American Express OPEN is also touting SearchManager's reporting capabilities. Users can take a close look at the performance of all of their search accounts, viewing key metrics and performance statistics, such as click-through rates and impressions. They can also generate high-gloss, executive-ready, customized reports.

According to Masterson, making changes across multiple search engines is a snap. Want to increase all your Yahoo, Google, and MSN keyword bids at once? Not a problem. Just tell the program which data you'd like to view and see it for all three engines on one page. Click a button to change all bids, then enter either a percentage or a fixed value. SearchManager does all the calculations and changes the figures. Without an application like this one, the user would have to do the math in an Excel spreadsheet, then import the data into each search engine individually. "With SearchManager, users avoid the inertia of logging into different engines and learning different interfaces," Masterson says. "And users can do in a few minutes what would've taken a few hours."

SearchManager is available in two versions -- Pro and Assist. The former is a self-managed solution for small businesses that are already doing search marketing but looking for a simpler, more streamlined way to manage their campaigns. Assist offers all the features of Pro, but small-business users also get the services of a dedicated pay-per-click (PPC) consultant who can launch and manage their campaigns for them.

What's more, users of SearchManager have access to phone, live-chat, and face-to-face assistance.

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Michele Pepe-Warren was an editor and reporter for CRN and VARBusiness and has 10 years of experience covering the technology channel.

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