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The 7 Best Places To Advertise Your Business Online

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.

Google Adwords

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.

Microsoft Ad Center

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.

7 Search

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.

Facebook Advertising

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.

Twitter Advertising

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.

Stumbleupon Paid Discovery

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.

LinkedIn Ads

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.

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Gary Shouldis is a father, husband, business owner and avid blogger. He is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company helping small businesses grow their online presence and bottom line. When he’s not working, you can usually find him being chased through the park by his 4 children.

46 Responses to The 7 Best Places To Advertise Your Business Online

  1. When I do this and get a lot of contacts, what free CRM, or low cost non-cloud CRM do you recommend?

    Thank you.

    • ZOHO crm is a good choice, if you’re looking for a free option. Also Insightly if you use Google Apps. Also consider Highrise from 37 signals if your looking for an easy to use, lightweight crm.

  2. Yes, these are great places to advertise, although I got burned in Google Adwords, as I did not know what I was doing, 3,000 later, I learned a hard lesson.

  3. Hey Jeoff, Adwords can be a goldmine or a money pit, depends on how the account is set up and how much experience you have with it. If you’re not familiar on best practices when it comes to Adwords, it’s best to have a professional set it up for you. It’s always good to set a low monthly cap if you do it yourself so you can see where you need to make changes without it getting too expensive.

  4. Hello, thanks for the list. As a new business owner I will definitely check out most if not all of these advertisers. I have recently signed up for an Ad-words account and it doubled my traffic which was nice. Once again I appreciate the list.

  5. I use twitter and boostasite.com to advertise my business, they have given me a free platform to push my products to a larger audience. Thank you for this article, it gave me a few more places to explore while growing my business.

  6. This is a great article and in a world of small margins of nutritional supplements, I have found that CPC companies want to charge the most for them. I have tried most and have found that their is very little ROI. Can you recommend a company that only charges per sale, if you enter back end code to track sales amounts?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Low margin items are tough in the world of PPC. Especially with Adwords. You may want to try less competitive platforms like Bing and 7 Search and test your luck. You also really need to know what your doing when it comes to PPC advertising, especially when you don’t have a lot of wiggle room. As for pay per sale, possibly look into affiliate marketing if you’re usung a custom brand.

  7. When was this article electronically published?
    I really found the info usefull for my school reaserch paper on how to most efficiently advertise a business online.
    thanks

  8. Do a little advertising each and everyday and you will get more clients. If you don’t advertise, you won’t be know… Advertising is the core foundation to any strong business… So if you need help with any branding / logo design / Album covers etc, please contact me and thank you for this valuable information on advertising your business.

  9. Gary,

    I am the owner of http://www.lunarscooters.com. I found the information on this webpage very helpful. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge about online advertising. I have been successfully building my lunarscooter brand with the help of many of the sites and tools you listed above. I am curiouse about your company 3Bug media and how we could potentially work together to help build one another’s business. Check out http://www.lunarscooters.com to learn more about what my company offers.

    Thanks,

    Keith

    • Hey Keith,
      Just checked out your website, awesome! Wish I had that when I lived in NYC. Feel free to message me, gary[at]3bugmedia.com and we can chat. I’m glad you found the article useful for you and your business, cheers

  10. When you don’t have a limited time offer, you may still create urgency by including an expression like, “now” or “right now” or “today. A well picked up information for starters : In the book the details about web marketing is discussing in few words. If it’s not the case, move on, there are thousands of other people that would die to join your opportunity.

    • Good luck Debbie, if you’re just starting out with online advertising, Google Adwords Express is a pretty easy way to start. If you want to use the regular Adwords platform and not hire an online web agency, if you call Google, they will hep set up the campaign for you for free.

  11. Great piece! I agree with many of the advertising alternatives you suggest. If you want to explore more advertising options, check out adzura.com, they actually have a mix of traditional and online ad spaces.

  12. Add your website to Huzup
    http://www.huzup.com/

    My site, Huzup is an online directory of websites. Here users can submit their website to different categories and subcategories. The speciality of my site in there will a button similar to like button for every site. Sites having higher number of likes will be on top in that category

    Our intelligent search can tell you which website is the best according to the given keyword. For example if you input “ebay” it will list similar sites like flipkart, snapdeal etc and tell you which one is the best.

  13. Thank you for this article. I am the owner of http://www.stilettostyle.com. While my site is SEO optimized for some keywords I have a long way to go to get my traffic where I would like it to be. I am very new to the online world and your article has been very helpful. I am anxious to try some of the sites and techniques you have recommended and that I have seen in the comments. You bet I have bookmarked your site and it will become a regular read for me!

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