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, 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 and image 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. 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.
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.
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 Microsoft Ad Center.
Advertising on Facebook can be a gold mine for small businesses. 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 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 not as efficient than Pay Per Click (PPC), where you can get very, very specific in who sees your ad, Facebook let’s you create mini billboards on thousands of targeted Facebook users and is well worth checking out.
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!). Recently, Twitter launched a small business advertising program that will make it much more affordable for businesses to advertise on Twitter. Currently it’s invitation only via a partnership with American Express, but will be opening up to everyone shortly. Lot’s of potential here for the right businesses.
Still relatively unknown to most people, Stumbleupon drives more website traffic than both Facebook and Twitter. 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. 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.
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 (there is also a minimum daily spend), 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.
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? Contact me here, I respond to every email.