There’s no shortage of advertising avenues these days, especially online. As your business grows, it will become even more imperative that you’re spending your ad dollars wisely. While online marketing is arguably the most cost-efficient form of advertising for many businesses, it’s far too easy to blow your budget on poorly targeted ads if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Advertising online doesn’t have to be overwhelming, even if you’re new to it. It’s just a matter of familiarizing yourself with your options and determining which is best for your business’s unique marketing goals.
While there are many different platforms available, online advertising essentially boils down to X core types:
Email marketing remains one of the most powerful and cost-efficient ways to advertise – both to prospective and current customers. Nearly every business has more than one audience to target. For example, a political campaign will want to target general voters, supporters and volunteers, all separately. Each group requires a unique message or even a different type of advertising. This is why it’s crucial to build segmented email lists, constantly. Sending emails frequently will keep your audience engaged, build loyalty, position your brand as an authority, and boost sales.
Google Adwords is still king in this arena, but there are plenty of other options, including Bing and Yahoo. By targeting the people who are already searching for keywords related to your business, you can display highly targeted ads and only pay when you get actual clicks. If you’re new to paid search, it’s best to hire an expert. Platforms like Adwords make it easy to waste money on bad clicks and blow through money faster than a slot machine. An experienced search marketing professional will ensure your campaigns perform as they should.
Display marketing is basically synonymous with banner advertising: you place visual (or text or video) ads on various websites – ideally websites that are relevant to your industry. Platforms like Adwords let you run display ads in addition to search, but there are hundreds of other ad networks to choose from as well. Some display ads charge per click (PPC); others charge per impression (CPM). Like most online ads, the key is to pay as little for these ads as possible while also aiming for the highest conversion rates (e.g. the number of people who click an ad and then subscribe to your newsletter).
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing your website and using external channels to attract visitors through search engines organically, rather than with paid ads. These days, SEO is more about creating relevant content on your website, rather than keyword stuffing – but it’s still critical to have your most important keywords prominently placed on your site. For example, if you run a Pizza Shop in Brooklyn, but you don’t have the words “pizza” or “Brooklyn” on your website, then you’re making it very hard for locals to find you in search engines.
Every business should have social media accounts on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It allows you to stay in touch with your audience, announce major news, offer special promotions for followers and so on. You can also use social media for paid advertising to reach people who don’t already follow you. Running “sponsored” posts and ads in Facebook, for example, can be a cost-efficient way to reach your prospective customers on a platform they already use. Plus, you can target by a number of criteria, such as age, location, gender, other pages they “like” and so on.
Keep in mind that most businesses will get the most from their ad dollars by running a combination of the above ad types and splitting up their budget based on ongoing campaign performance. Keep testing and experimenting to discover what works best for your business.