As a small business owner, do you feel like you’re constantly wasting your marketing dollars?
Join the club.
Although print advertising, direct mail, tv and radio still have some relevance for some industries, for many, it’s a giant waste of time and money. Consumer attention span is getting shorter, coupled with an ever increasing amount of advertising, you can see why people go about their day with blinders on.
One area of marketing that is growing though is online advertising. According to a study by Zenith Optimedia, the current global display advertising market is predicted to reach $25.27 billion this year(2012), with a 36% growth to $34.4 billion in 2013.
If you aren’t advertising online yet, or are looking for new avenues to pursue, below are 7 places you can market your small business online. While I’m a huge proponent of optimizing your website so you can get found in the search engine results for free (SEO), the reality is that it takes alot of time, patience and persistence to rank high in the search engines. While you’re slowly and methodically building up your organic search rankings, why not spend your advertising dollars more efficiently online right now?
Note: Many of the programs below offer a free credit for new advertisers. If you don’t have one or see one on their website, do a quick Google search online to see if you can find an offer code you can use. If not, I would call them directly and ask for one, competition is fierce for advertising dollars and most will give you a credit for trying them out.
The grand daddy of online advertising. Since Google owns the lions share of the search engine market, it makes their advertising platform Adwords the biggest platform for Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing. Adwords lets you create text, image or video based advertisements targeting people who search for specific keywords (you bid on keywords in an auction type market) and terms in the Google search box or through demographic and behavioral targeting via their Display Network. You can also get very specific in when your ad displays, making your marketing dollars very efficient. Setting up a campaign can be a bit complicated for beginners, luckily Google offers an easy way for small businesses to get started with Google Adwords Express.
Some options available to you via Google Adwords:
Search Ads – These are traditional ads you see when you perform a Google search. There are usually 2-3 ads above the organic results as well as several ads to the right of the organic search results. Here you target specific keywords people are typing in as they search and compete in an online auction with competitors for top placements.
Display Network – These are ad placements outside of the traditional Google search. Google owns dozens of properties such as Gmail and YouTube where you can place text, image and video ads across all of their networks. They also partner with thousands of 3rd party websites giving Google Display Network the biggest reach out of any online advertising platform.
Remarketing – With a remarketing campaign, after someone has been to your website, you have the ability to advertise to that individual person as they surf the internet. Between Google’s own properties and their 3rd party network, you have the ability to reach that person almost anywhere on the internet. Remarketing is available for both Search and Display Network campaigns.
Similar to Google Adwords, Microsoft uses it’s Bing search engine to serve ads in it’s search engine results as well as partner networks. The Bing search engine has a much smaller audience than Google, but this typically makes bidding on keywords less expensive and could save you money as it extends your marketing dollars a bit further.
Over the past few years Bing Ads has made great strides in improving their ad network as well as making it easy for business owners to run their own campaigns. Bing Ads offers free advertising credits but they can be hard to come by. If you go to the link below and submit your site to their search engine, they will offer you an advertising credit for trying it out.
A smaller player in the paid search industry, 7 Search uses smaller, niche search engines to display your Pay Per Click (PPC) ads. They claim a better ROI than their bigger competitors and bidding on keywords is cheaper than both Google Adwords and Bing Ads.
I have had limited experience with 7 Search so far but their customer support has been really good and their Cost Per Clicks are definitely cheaper, though you won’t get the same click volume as Adwords or Bing Ads.
Advertising on Facebook can be a gold mine for small businesses and their ad platform has come a long way the past few years, both in effectiveness and ease of use.
Facebook ads work similar to traditional Pay Per Click advertising (pay only when someone clicks on your ad), but the great thing with Facebook is that you can add an image or video along with your text. Even if people don’t click on your ad, you’re still getting lots of great exposure to a targeted audience for free.
While platforms like Adwords and Bing Ads typically target user behavior (searching for a product or service), Facebook lets you target according to demographic makeups and user interests. Their platform is unmatched in this respect and if you know exactly who your target market it, can be a powerful advertising platform. Their video ad platform seeks to rival even YouTube and they seem to be pushing out new advertising features every week.
While Twitter has allowed advertising for quite some time with promoted tweets and trends, it has been way out of the budget for small business owners (unless you had a min of 10k to spend a day!). Twitter since launched a small business advertising program that will make it much more affordable for businesses to advertise on Twitter.
While I do not know anyone currently using it that is getting a good ROI with Twitter Advertising, it still has many possibilities as they are still trying to figure out how to make advertising work on the platform. Some interesting features that have come out are Twitter Cards as well experiments with e-commerce, where users can buy items without having to leave Twitter.
Still relatively unknown to most people, Stumbleupon is a neat social service people use to discover (stumble on) new websites they never knew existed, related to their interests. It’s simple to use, create a profile, select your interests and start stumbling! Stumbleupon has an advertising platform called Paid Discovery where you pay between .05 cents and .25 cents for every person that stumbles on your site. You can select the interests you want your website to be included in and pay according to how targeted you want your stumbles to be. There are no advertisements here, the website page you select becomes your ad for visitors. They also have a traditional advertising platform with paid placement opportunities.
While I love Stumbleupon, I would only consider using it if you have a product or service that has general appeal as it’s not nearly as targeted as PPC or Facebook advertising. I also wouldn’t use it to drive sales, but to get content you have created out in front of people fast.
If you’re in the BtoB or professional services industry, LinkedIn Ads may be exactly what you’re looking for. Linkedin can serve highly targeted ads to other professionals and businesses on Linkedin. The Cost Per Click (CPC) is higher than pretty much any other platform listed here, but you can target your ads to very specific people.
I would recommend this if you are BtoB or offering professional services and you are looking to acquire high value clients. The advertising platform is pretty easy to use and with so many highly detailed user profiles, offers incredibly detailed targeting choices.
Pinterest is a very interesting platform, driving more traffic and sales for many businesses than other social ad platforms. They have launched an advertising tool called Promoted Pins, though it is not open to everyone just yet. If you have a business that targets women and you can create visually appealing graphics, Pinterest can be a a top performing ad platform for you.
Ever since they purchased Instagram, Facebook has been trying to figure out a way to monetize the platform. They have been experimenting with different ad formats and will be opening advertising to everyone in the near future. Advertising was originally reserved for big brands but has since opened up to everyone via a self-serve platform.
Online advertising works
Relative to traditional advertising like newspaper ads and direct mail, paid online advertising is very efficient. The thing I like best about advertising online is that you can see exactly where your money is going and if it’s generating an ROI that makes sense for you. I also like that fact that it’s usually a pay for performance scenario, where you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad and visits your website. Image if you only paid for your newspaper ad if someone called or walked through your front door? The newspapers would go bankrupt!
Final note, paid advertising should coincide with your organic marketing efforts (Search Engine Optimization), you should really be doing both as the two of them working together can bring awesome results for you business. Have questions about paid advertising online and how to get started? Contact me here to learn more about how we can help.
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