Get Started: Digital Marketing for Small Businesses
Advertising is an important part of every business; but it can be tricky to know where you should be advertising, how you should be doing it, and when it's the right time to invest - particularly online. It can seem daunting to try advertising online especially without a big budget, however research into the marketing costs of SMEs has found that for every £1 spent on advertising, smaller businesses benefit 8 times more than larger companies.
Before you begin advertising you should consider:
Setting a primary objective for your online advertising campaigns is key. Do you want more visits to your website? Or to get customers straight to the point of sale? Defining these goals should set the foundations for all your future campaigns, and ensure you're spending your time and money in the right places for you.
Nowadays, small businesses are able to run multiple campaigns even if their budget is relatively small. Businesses typically allocate around 30% of their marketing budget to advertising, but this will vary depending on the needs and objectives of each individual business. Don’t have a ‘marketing budget’? Then work out how much you want to spend on your objective without it stressing your business finances.
When it comes to engaging with your audience, the golden rule for getting the most out of your spend is ‘the more targeted you are, the better’. With most advertising platforms, you’re able to target people based on factors such as age, gender, job, income, location and even interests and likes. Again, this can save you both time and money as you are directing your adverts straight to the people who care. Investing time to understand who your audience are upfront will drive benefits later.
One of the greatest benefits of online advertising is that it’s really easy to measure and have full visibility of the activity you're running. With tools such as Google Adwords, you're able to get a full breakdown of how much you're spending, where you're spending it, and what sort of results your adverts are generating. Social networks such as Twitter have simple analytics dashboards built into them, which enable you to monitor the impressions of your content.
What are your options
Paid search advertising is the process of creating adverts to appear in search engines depending on what is searched for. You’ll then bid on ‘terms’ you want your advert to appear for, e.g. “florist London”, “country pub Oxford”, “hairdresser Lowestoft”.
One of the best elements of paid search advertising is that you only have to pay when someone actually clicks on your ads - so views are free! This is great for when users are searching for a particular product or service and you want your business to be found quickly. Obviously more competitive search terms (also known as “keywords”) will cost more to bid on, so we recommend including some terms that are very specific to your business and therefore less competitive to make your budget stretch further.
To get started with paid search, you'll need to set up an account in Google Adwords or Bing Ads. You can then create a campaign, set your daily budgets and place bids on your keywords; these bids are the highest amount you’re willing to pay if someone clicks on one of your ads. We recommend using Google’s Keyword Planner to carry out your keyword research. Here you will find the average search volume, competitiveness and estimated bid for search terms relating to your business.
When writing your advert, you’ll be limited by the number of characters, so it’s important to make sure you give it a snappy headline, an engaging call-to-action and clear body text that’s relevant to your landing page - the landing page is where the user will be directed to after clicking on your advert.
Specifically we are talking about display adverts appearing on The Google Display Network. This is an online network made up of millions of websites and apps where businesses can place their adverts.The format of your adverts on The Google Display Network can range from graphic banners, to videos and interactive visuals; it's great for engaging and re-engaging users.
Re-engagement refers to the users who may have already shown interest in your business by visiting pages on your site; you can work on encouraging them to return to your product by targeting them with a related banner or image. This is called remarketing, and is an effective way of driving reminding visitors to your website that they were interested in your product or services.
You can also place adverts on other websites that may have audiences who are likely to be interested in what your business does. To do this you will need to create a Display Ad campaign through Google Adwords, and then upload your text and visuals. You will then be able to choose from a range of targeting methods to ensure your advert gets seen by the right people.
With organic posts losing out to increasing volumes of advertising, it’s unlikely that your social content will get seen by the right people without a little help. Paid social allows you to leverage existing and future posts so that you can get noticed by more potential customers.
You can also get your page featured on other people’s feeds, use high level targeting to reach the most relevant users and find lookalike audiences that are more likely to engage with your business. It’s a really effective method for building a following and brand awareness, which is particularly useful if your business is new to social media. A good channel to start with is Facebook as it’s still the highest performing platform, representing 75% of all social media users. You can do this either by boosting posts straight from your page, or visiting the Adverts Manager section to set up a campaign.
The beauty of advertising these days is that businesses are able to spend as little or much as they like. The wealth of data that is now available allows you to see exactly what’s working and what’s not. This gives you more flexibility to experiment and understand your online audience better. Although online advertising not an overnight process, and there’s no scientific formula to success, online advertising could provide an extra boost in leads and help put your business on the map.