Microsoft Adds Search Marketing Package to Office Live

Microsoft has added another search engine marketing (SEM) offering to the suite of services available to its Microsoft Office Live Small Business subscribers. Through a partnership with The Search Agency, a Santa Monica-based SEM firm, Microsoft’s customers can sign up for three levels of service ranging from online training to full service campaign management.

The Office Live Small Business service is designed for very small businesses, typically with less than 10 employees and often with less than five, who typically don’t have dedicated IT resources, according to Louise Rasho, senior manager of marketing communications.

“The needs of entrepreneurs in this space are very diverse. Some are do-it-yourself oriented, and want to learn to do everything, while others want to completely offload certain aspects of their business to vendors,” Rasho said. “Then there are the folks in the middle, who need consultative help getting started, so they can take over from there.”

Microsoft already offers a service for the DIY set: the adManager service that allows subscribers to buy and manage PPC ads from Microsoft Windows Live Search and Ask.com Sponsored Listings. For the hands-off approach, Microsoft has an existing arrangement with Website Pros to handle full-service Web development and search needs.

The new services from The Search Agency will fit the needs of those users at either end, as well as those who fall somewhere in the middle, Rasho said.

The first service, TSA Learn, consists of three online training modules that teach the essentials of SEM and search engine optimization (SEO). Users are also taught the ins and outs of adManager, so that on completion, they will be ready to plan, create and manage a campaign.

“Someone that goes through that will know the tricks of the trade,” said David Hughes, The Search Agency’s CEO.

Next is TSA Launch, a selection of one-off, a la carte SEM and SEO services. For example, a user can fill out a questionnaire about their business and get a list of potential keywords to use in their search campaign, or enter their existing keywords and get a list of expanded keywords to consider. The Search Agency offers more than 20 such services to Office Live Small Business subscribers, Hughes said.

The third offering is TSA Grow, which is a full-service option where The Search Agency manages all search marketing activities for the subscriber. It’s similar to The Search Agency’s TSA Direct service, which it has been offering for about a year. That service is best suited for businesses that spend at least $5,000 a month on search, Hughes said. It’s priced by a percentage of ad spend, with a minimum monthly fee for those under a certain threshold.

Office Live Small Business offers services for establishing a Web presence, marketing a business online, and increasing productivity, and managing business functions. The basic package is free, with more features and services available for subscribers to the $19.95 or $39.95 monthly packages.

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