No company has an unlimited advertising budget and every company needs to draw new customers to their door. Online marketing allows small businesses to target their adverts and uncover the secrets of their own success, just as the big firms do. You don’t need a huge budget or a dedicated marketing manager to do it either.
Why Pay for Ads?
Word of mouth, networking, social media and even editorial coverage in newspapers and magazines may not have a cash cost but they do require an investment of time and energy. Once it’s set up, paid for ads requires little time investment and typically recoups its costs. However, you need to understand how to target your advertisements to achieve the best effect.
The advantages of online marketing compared to print marketing are clear. They include:
- Direct response. Customers see an ad and can take action immediately.
- Clear reporting. You can see exactly which offers or ads are drawing customers to you.
- Detailed success ratings. Find out how many people see your ad and click on it.
- Clear spend to success ratio. You know exactly how much each lead or sale cost.
- Low cost for each additional item. Serving the same ad to another viewer costs fractions of a fraction of a penny.
Using an Ad Network
The simplest way to get your advert out there is to create a text ad with one of the big ad networks. These do the marketing for you, serving your ad to thousands of customers across the globe. However, it’s your job to ensure that you select the appropriate ad network for your business and that you target your adverts appropriately.
Ad networks will usually either allow you to opt in or opt out of where your advert is shown. They usually do this by letting you select keywords or blacklist certain industries. For example, if your product was a children’s toy, you might select keywords relating to popular children’s TV shows and blacklist adult sites.
Is this enough?
The short answer is: no. Ad networks do a very limited online marketing assessment. Their focus is on serving as many ads as possible, relying on quantity to earn their keep. This is fine if you’ve got a per-sale or per-click agreement, where you only pay for ads that result in a visitor to your own site, but as most ad networks charge per thousand views, you may find yourself seeing little return on your money.
Improve your Return Rate
The key to a successful ad is to show it to the right person. This is the heart of online marketing, and thanks to the monitoring capabilities of websites, it’s easier than ever to tell who the right person is. To improve your return rate, you need to know who your customers are so you can find them online. This typically means:
- Setting geographical limits. This is particularly important if you work in a limited area.
- Using esoteric keywords. Rather than a generic keyword like ‘plumber’, you may have more success with a string like ‘plumber Hampshire’ or an associated phrase like ‘leaking pipes’.
- Monitoring the results. Learn from your mistakes and your online marketing will improve.
- Use a targeted ad network. If an ad network focuses on your industry or geographical area, it may provide better results.
- Contact sites directly. As well as obvious sites, like directories, you can offer to pay for advertising on any website. So if your clients all live in a certain council area, you might approach the council and enquire about advertising on their site.