Online Advertising for Your Small Business

Advertising is important for small businesses these days, and online advertising can be one of the most effective methods if it is done right.  There are many different online advertising options available to small business owners, and this article is intended to help shed some light on those options.

Online advertising options

Google Adwords – The largest online advertising system, Google Adwords allows you to advertise on Google and thousands of other websites that use Google to display ads.  Audience exposure is quite large and prices are about average  Setup is easy, especially with the new “adwords express” feature that allows anyone to get up and running in about 10 minutes.  Since Google is the most popular search engine, many people looking for a business can be expected to start their search at Google.

Facebook ads – The ads provided by facebook can be quite valuable, as over 1 billion people use facebook regularly.  A great many potential customers for most businesses can be expected to use facebook on a daily basis.  Facebook ads are also some of the least expensive online advertising options available, although the effectiveness of facebook advertising will vary depending upon the business type.  As a rule, many of facebook’s most avid users are younger, which may or may not be a good thing for your business.

LinkedIn ads – For businesses whose customers are other businesses, LinkedIn is a great place to advertise since it is geared towards those seeking business networking.  That same business focus allows you to easily target LinkedIn ads at those who own a business or make purchasing decisions at a business.  Prices tend to be somewhat higher than Google or Facebook.

Craigslist – Craigslist ads are generally free (although there are small fees in some markets for some types of ads).  However, the saying about getting what you pay for is often true when it comes to business ads on Craigslist.  Moreover, since many businesses already use Craigslist to post free ads, your ads are not as likely to stand out to potential clients.  That said, free is free.

Other smaller ad networks – There are many smaller advertising networks out there, such as Project Wonderful.  These companies tend to offer much lower priced online advertising.  Whether these ads prove cost-effective for your business will depend upon many factors.  In general, I find it best to give smaller companies a try with a small amount of money and see what happens.

Review and tweak your ads as time goes on

As your ads are running, be sure to take some time to review their performance.  All of the above-discussed advertising options include detailed analytics that will show you what type of person is clicking on the ads, how the ads were served to website visitors, etc.  You will want to match that information up with your own data about sales, and then go back and tweak the ads to maximize revenue.  For example, if you find that advertising to one group of website visitors generates lots of click but no sales, while another group will often click then purchase, it is wise to target that second group instead of the first group.

Similarly, you can create multiple versions of an advertisement and see which produces more clicks and sales.  Differences can include word choice, images, etc.  See which ads perform better, and spend your advertising money on ads that work best.

Properly handle the leads from your online advertising

Regardless of the online advertising approach that you take, it is important to convert the potential customers that contact your business as a result of that advertising into actual customers.  Doing so means that  a positive impression must be made from the beginning.  To ensure a positive impression, make sure that your website appears professional and is free of spelling or grammatical errors that can be off-putting to customers.  You will also want to ensure that your website prominently lists your contact information, as customers are weary about doing business with companies that they cannot reach by phone – especially online.

When it comes to telephone calls from potential customers, realize the even with online advertising, many customers will prefer to call your company.  That is because many customers still prefer the telephone when purchasing goods and services, while others will wish to call before making a purchase so that they can be assured they are dealing with a real company will actually deliver upon their promises.  Still other customers are facing a time-critical situation and do not wish to wait for a response by email.  Regardless, sending such calls to voicemail is not recommended.  For those reasons, our telephone answering service can be of great value.

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