Where to Start with Online Advertising

8 01 2010

Online advertising is often considered to be too confusing for small businesses to undertake. Many owners who are not familiar with the medium expect it to be complicated and expensive but this doesn’t have to be the case. Online advertising can range from a simple local Google business listing to a complex AdWords or pay-per-click campaign. Whatever your level of expertise, don’t be afraid to try. If all else fails, seek the advice of a professional marketing strategist who is well versed in online advertising techniques to help you design a campaign that will compliment your print advertising efforts and marketing goals.

The first step is to decide if your business can benefit from online advertising. Ask yourself where you could find additional customers. Do you have the type of business that people would look for information online? If the answer is no, chances are your money is likely better spent on other advertising. If your business would benefit from more customers finding you online, take some easy first steps and evaluate their results.

1) Local Google Listing – Check out http://www.google.com/local/add/analyticsSplashPage?gl=us&hl=en-US for a quick and easy way to make sure that customers can find your physical location. By making a quick new business entry, you’ll get exposure and a listing on Google for free.

2) Social Networking Ads – By using targeted ads on places like Facebook, your business can target the exact audience you are looking for. These ads are generally pay-per-click which means that your business only pays if someone selects your ad and is directed on to your page. Make your ad compelling by offering a time-limited, tangible product or service. Don’t waste your money with a simple “just letting you know we’re here” type of ad. Make someone want to click.

3) Link Exchanges – If you feel that there are sites where a link to your website would benefit, suggest a link exchange to that site. By offering a reciprocal link to their site, you’ll often get a positive response. Remember, the more links that exist to your site, the better your site will rank on search engines.

4) AdWords – If you ready to put some time into online advertising, consider an ad campaign such as Google AdWords. You can create a monthly budget, set your maximum pay-per-click rate (basically buying position on search engine sponsored ads), and have outstanding statistics to measure your results.

5) Banner Ads – Certain types of businesses definitely benefit from a banner ad campaign. There are lots of services available that once you submit a banner ad, can disperse it across the Internet to appropriate sites. You can also consider buying a sponsorship on you local sites that have a lot of visibility. Consider placing a banner ad at your local Chamber of Commerce site.

6) Local Ad Sites – There are many aggregators of local businesses and services. A good place to start is to Google your own business and see what listings you end up in. You can often update these listings for free. Make sure the information is updated and if you move locations or change information, always Google yourself and make sure all listings are up to date.

Each of these types of efforts needs close monitoring to make sure you can track the results. Avoid making identical offers in multiple places so you can be sure to know where new traffic is coming from. If you have statistics for your website, be sure to check the referring domains as well so you can see what people do on your site once they come in.

Each one of these methods will drive more business to your website and the local ads will help bring foot traffic to your physical location. Make sure your potential new customers are impressed when they arrive. Make sure your website is as professional as possible. If your money is limited or you don’t have a web designer you trust, consider running a promotion with Prova to redesign your site. All the advertising in the world won’t help if once customers arrive, they lose their sense of confidence in your brand.

As always, feel free to ask questions. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out!

NEXT BLOG: Branding and the Small Business

— Jeannie Nash
Marketing Strategist




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