Has your business ever placed online ads? If you haven’t, you aren’t alone. According to Small Business Trends, only 66% of small businesses have ever placed an online ad. It’s easy to understand why: many small businesses need to allocate their promotional budget across a wide variety of options. But while your business might have not the big budget for ongoing ad campaigns, let’s talk about how periodic advertising will help your business thrive in today’s digital marketplace.

5 great reasons to do periodic online advertising

  1. Almost every business has seasonal cycles.  If your business has a holiday promotion to run – or experiences a summer slump – a well planned advertising campaign can help you manage your seasonal ups and downs.
  2. Stats show that organic social media reach on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all down. A study by SocialBakers.com shows that organic reach of posts on Facebook declined by more than 50% in a four year period.  This research showed that a page with 10,000 fans could expect only 650 of them to see that Page’s posts in their News Feeds. By moving away from a sole reliance on the reach of your social media feeds, you can extend not only how long your strategic posts are available in your News Feed, but also how large an audience will be able to see them.
  3. If you are in a very competitive market or industry, it might be time to consider that advertising is a cost of doing business.  Investing in a competitive advertising analysis is simpler than you might think, and could help you set an advertising budget for your business. In competitive, noisy marketplaces, advertising is the megaphone you need.
  4. This falls under the unusual hack category, but it’s a powerful trick:  sophisticated marketers will use online advertising to test out marketing messages. Because online advertising marketplaces rely on an auction framework, only the most effective messages end up getting clicked by consumers. Therefore, you can place several adds with a very small budgets and see which one gets the most clicks.  It’s a rudimentary market research study, but many marketers swear by it.
  5. There are SEO benefits to placing ads.  While Google insists that ads on its platform will not boost normal search rankings, there is a lot of evidence that there are tangible after-effects of those ads. Ads mean more clicks to your website, pure and simple.  Any click, share, comment or review will boost your SEO rankings over time.

If you have decided to explore the world of online advertising, we suggest you dip you toe before diving into the deep end.  Creating an ad is not as simple as creating a social media post, and there are several best practices you’ll want to get acquainted with.

Searching online

Online Advertising Fundamentals

  1. Have a very clear purpose for your ad. Are you trying to raise awareness of your brand? Do you have a promotion to broadcast? Do you have a new product to introduce? Are you trying to get into a new market?  Because online ads are so small, you have to be very targeted with your message.  It’s critical to hyper-focus on your purpose and stick to it.
  2. Learn about the online advertising ecosystem.  There are several platforms that have online advertising available, each with a different level of complexity, different audience segmenting options, and different budget requirements. 
    1. Google AdWords is a staple, but very complex.  And it can be very expensive if you are in a competitive industry or market.  Make sure you contact us for help, or do significant research before diving in. But once fined tuned, these ads can be seen by the largest audience online. And while they are smaller players, Bing & Yahoo have very vibrant networks that can yield great results.
    2. Facebook and Instagram share the same advertising platform, which can make ad creation and placement a snap.  To get started, try Boosting one of your social media posts to expand its reach.  Many of our clients expand their network for as little as $20 per boosted post.
    3. Research local directories such as Yelp or NextDoor. They are not as cheap as social media platforms, but have great reach for businesses that have physical presences in a community.
  3. Make sure you create a landing page for the ad.  You are going to be paying for each click – you want those clicks to go to a page that is designed to close the sale.  If you have time to follow one rule: never, ever have an ad click through to the home page of your site.   
  4. As much as your budget will allow, have more than one version of your ad.  Every character is precious in an ad, and you’ll need to test versions to see which ones pack the most punch.
  5. Have the ad run for at least three days.  It’s tempting to run an ad for only one day to test it out, but you won’t be able to get enough data with that short a period. Plus, people’s online habits are changing and it’s not uncommon for consumers to go a day or two without being on social media or a local directory like Yelp. The ideal length of an ad will vary depending on the platform, but start with a week if you budget can swing it.

If you’ve come away with the impression that online advertising is complex, you are right. That’s why our team has a system to help get our clients launched with their ads, before they manage the ongoing placement. But don’t avoid online ads all together: you’ll be neglecting a valuable tool that can generate a real ROI.

About this post’s photo: yes, we did actually receive these Yellow Pages in our mailbox recently. Yes, they were “the original search engine”, but it’s time to move on.

Leave a Reply