Online advertising should play an integral part of your overall marketing in 2017.
Why you say?
Because online advertising is seeing the most innovation out of all online marketing channels right now and it represents a huge opportunity for the businesses that embrace it and make it a central part of their overall marketing strategy.
SEO is still my favorite online marketing channel, but it is getting increasingly difficult for small businesses to achieve high rankings on a small business budget. Content is saturated online and simply producing content just doesn't cut it anymore.
Social media platforms are getting stingier and stingier when it comes to reaching your fan base, with the hopes that you will just give up and start paying for advertising. Facebook is leading the way with this, but Instagram (Facebook owns them) is not far behind as well as other social platforms taking a cue from Facebook's strategy.
Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving. David Ogilvy
If you can setup solid landing pages and have a good overall marketing/sales funnel in place, online advertising can be very lucrative. The biggest advantage advertising has over just about any other channel is that it is infinitely scalable once you get it right. You can't produce referrals or higher organic rankings on demand, but you can open up a firehose of quality traffic to your site with online advertising.
While it is “pay to play, if you play the right way, you can make a lot of money with online advertising.
So where do you start with online advertising in 2017? I have a popular post on this blog about the best places to advertise online, which gives a general overview of some of the most popular places to advertise your business. In this post I want to discuss some specific advertising opportunities that can work very well for small businesses.
Below are my top online advertising opportunities for 2017. If you are a small business, you can do very well by adding one or all of these to your overall marketing mix in 2017.
When it comes to online advertising, I think Facebook is the single best opportunity right now. While Google Adwords is bigger and works very well, Facebook Ads gives you crazy targeting options at a cost below what Google Adwords is charging for advertising these days.
There is no other channel online right now where you can target pretty much your exact customer like you can on Facebook.
So what what can you do with Facebook advertising?
You can upload your existing customer database and target them on Facebook with ads. You can create Lookalike Audiences, where Facebook takes your current customer list and creates a clone copy of potential customers who closely resemble your existing one. We created a Lookalike Audience for a client last year selling franchises. We took an existing franchise list of 500 highly qualified leads and created a Lookalike Audience with 200+K people on that list and generated over 800 new leads with that Lookalike Audience list. Yes, it does work, very well in fact.
You can also create your own targeting options using your ideal customer profile. If I was a photographer (or anyone targeting this persona), I could target women aged 25-35 within 20 miles of my location who were recently engaged and have an income over 80K a year. Yes, you can get that targeted with your advertising. Facebook combines everything they know about you, including your personal info, hobbies, friends, interests, etc, and merges it with 3rd party info they purchase (your credit card purchases, personal info) and create highly detailed profiles of you that they make available for advertisers. Sucks for privacy, but great for advertising.
Remarketing on Facebook and Google Adwords
Remarketing is whens someone visits your website, a tracking cookie/code is placed on their device, and you are then able to serve ads to them on 3rd party websites after they have left your website.
You have probably seen this with some big brands like Zappos or Wayfair, where you visit their site and later see an ad on another website or in Facebook with an image of the exact product you were looking at before you left their website.
Remarketing works well in situations where consumers tend to price shop as well as for businesses where the sales cycle is longer, such as insurance or financial services. Remarketing gives your business another opportunity to bring that person back to your website before they choose one of your competitors.
Google Adwords and Facebook represent the two largest markets for running remarketing campaigns. Google Adwords represents millions of third party websites, so they give you the largest reach, but Facebook lets you run remarketing campaigns directly in a Facebook users news feed, which is awesome. You actually don't have to choose one or the other, you can add remarketing code to your site for both and run them together.
With both platforms, you have the ability to fine tune your targeting even further. With Google Adwords, you can narrow down to a specific geographic area, choose what websites you want to show your ads on, and fine-tune your demographic targeting. With Facebook, you can do the same, you can choose to show your ads on Facebook only, or you can add Instagram ads and/or third party websites on their partner network, but you can't pick and choose what websites your ads display on.
With both Google Adwords and Facebook Ads, you can choose to run remarketing campaigns for visitors to your entire site, or just select pages on your site. Remarketing has proven to show a better ROI than traditional online advertising and should be part of any online marketing strategy.
Ads on Google Maps (Adwords)
Through Google Adwords, you can have your ads shown inside of Google Maps when the local map listing results appear. This is huge for local businesses as local search has taken on a huge role when it comes to organic listings in Google.
The great thing is that the ad, as of this writing, shows at the top of the search results, even above the organic listings. The not so great is that there are only 1-2 ad slots displaying, which means lots of competition for those slots. If you look at the images below, you will see the ads displayed with a purple marker on the map.
About a third of all mobile searches are local in nature and local searches are outpacing general searches on mobile by 50%. With over a billions people using Google Maps, local search ads on Google Maps represent a huge opportunity for local businesses.
Google is actively expanding local ads, with Promoted Pins, which will be available to all advertisers soon.
So how do you make your ad campaign eligible to display on Google Maps? You will need to connect your Google My Business page to your Google Adwords account using Location Extensions. Instructions can be found here.
So how does Google determine what ad will display given there are so many businesses and only a few ad slots? Google says it is using a variety of signals, including:
- Query context.
- Search/browsing history.
- Time of day.
These new Google Local Map Ads are in the process of rolling out so they may not be available everywhere just yet. Google is making local search and local ads a priority, so expect them to be available everywhere soon in addition to other new local ad formats (like promoted pins).
Call Only ads (Adwords)
Call Only ad campaigns inside Google Adwords is a recent addition to Google Adwords. We have been using it for clients that have local businesses and the results have been great so far.
So what are Call Only ads? They are ad campaigns that target mobile phones where the only option for the user is to click the ad to call. There is not an option to go to a website, the only action is to call the business. This essentially means that every click results in a lead, where with regular ad campaigns, you may need several clicks (or more) to the website for one of them to turn into a lead for your business.
The cost per click is higher that a traditional ad click in Adwords, but it's justified since every click is a lead. If your business focuses on converting leads over the phone or most of your traffic is mobile, call only campaigns make a lot of sense for you. And if you are in an industry where the cost per click is high or your website has poor conversion rates, then Call Only campaigns may make sense for you. Most mobile users would rather just make a quick call rather than try and fill out a form on their phone, which can be cumbersome.
Some of our clients who have been very successful with call only ads are:
- HVAC companies
- Waterproofing companies
- Mortgage brokers
- Insurance companies
- Pool & Spa companies
- Landscape companies
This is just an example of companies we have worked directly with using Call Only campaigns, it can apply to a host of different businesses and is worth trying out, it only takes about 5 minutes to setup a campaign.
Video ads were huge in 2016 and will be even bigger in 2017. Facebook made video an important part of their overall strategy and gave video more prominence in user feeds that text and even image posts. Youtube continues to grow and is the second largest search engine in the world, next to Google.com.
We are living in a visual world right now and visual ad formats are getting people's attention in a way text ads just can't. With internet streaming getting faster each year and mobile data plans getting more generous with bandwidth, more and more people are turning to video, both on computers and on mobile devices.
Why is this such a big opportunity for small, local businesses? Because despite that fact video is exploding, the vast majority of small businesses do not use video at all, either organically on social media or when running ads. Most small businesses don't have the technical skills to produce video and many don't have the money to pay someone. And even if they do, most are too afraid to step in front of a camera and record themselves. It took me two years to finally work up the nerve to step in front of a camera for the first time, now I regret not doing it sooner.
I wrote a blog post last year about exploiting the arbitrage in your industry, and video is one of those opportunities where most of your competitors are not using it and can become a major advantage for you if you are willing to use it.
So what type of videos can you create?
- Talking head videos, where the business owner talks about their company and the value they can bring to their customers
- Testimonial videos, where your customers describe their experience being a customer with your business
- Explainer videos, where you have an animated video explaining what your do
- Behind the scenes videos, where people can get a sneak peak on how your business operates and the people behind the scenes
- Any videos that will help you generate more business
These videos can be professionally produced with all the bells and whistles, or it can be a simple video (even shot on your phone), with you and a good camera and audio to record you. Both work and both can be very successful if done right. Here are some videos from Youtube on getting started.
Get Started Now
Don't wait until half the year is over before you get started, do it today. Online advertising works if you do it right. It's also the only real scalable way to generate more leads and business online. Have questions or need help in setting up an effective ad campaign? Contact us here.
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— Gary Shouldis (@3BugMedia) January 11, 2017