What Kind of Online Ad Should Your Small Business Run?

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on May 8, 2012
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You’re ready to invest in your small business by buying some online advertising. Where should you spend your money? It depends on your needs and what you want to accomplish. Here’s a look at three types of ad campaigns to help you determine which one may best suit your company.

  • To increase overall brand awareness, try display advertising. Those banner ads you see on nearly every website you visit have notoriously low click-through rates. A recent study by AdKeeper found that only .09 percent of website visitors click on banner ads, a rate equivalent to less than one of every 1,000 visitors. Although that sounds dismal, the click-through rate doesn’t provide the full picture: Display advertising campaigns can be an effective way to build brand awareness. For instance, a recent comScore study [PDF] found a 72 percent increase in site visits to an advertiser’s page and a 94 percent increase in brand keyword searches after a display ad campaign. Typically, you can target display ads to a specific demographic by running the ads on individual sites or larger ad networks focused on certain themes (green, parenting, business, etc.).
  • To increase your brand’s social reach, try Facebook ads. Facebook ad campaigns can be ultra-targeted according to age, location, marital status, and even keywords for favorite bands or TV shows. If you already have a relatively popular fan page, you can even create a campaign that targets friends of your existing fans, who are more likely to take an interest in your ad. If you’re focusing on increasing your fan page count to build brand loyalty, Facebook ads are the ideal method to use: A study by Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business found that customers who joined a local restaurant chain’s Facebook page made 36 percent more visits to the restaurants than non-fans, and they spent 45 percent more of their dining-out dollars there. Of course, if you’re investing in boosting your Facebook presence, you’ll also want to spend time updating your fan page regularly (or hire someone to do it for you).
  • To target prospects who are actively seeking products or services like yours, try keyword ads. Pay-per-click keyword ads are available for purchase from many search engines, most notably Google. These ads are displayed to prospects who enter the search terms that you’ve purchased, and you pay every time someone clicks on one. This is an ideal method if you have a product that’s relevant to a general term many people search for (such as “camping gear” or “Houston hotels”). However, if your offering is unlikely to be easily described by a search term, search marketing may not work well for you. The now-popular cloud data storage service Dropbox found this out the hard way, after spending some $400 for each new user acquired through search marketing.

These are three of the most common forms of ads, but they’re not the only ones: sponsored tweets, sponsored posts, sponsored newsletters, and paid links are also good options for many companies. If you’re not certain which types of online advertising will serve your business best, consider working with an online marketing consultant who can help you determine the best way to spend your online advertising budget.

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