Suppose you’re about to launch a website for your small business, promotion or new product. You’ve spent some time networking with industry influencers, chosen some important keywords, and prepared a press release to be sent out tomorrow. Suppose you’ve spent almost all of your capital on this product, and you only have a few hundred dollars to move forward with for small business advertising.
What’s the most cost effective way to use that money? In all likelihood, it will be some combination of the five small business advertising ideas discussed later on in the article. But before we discuss the ideas, let’s talk strategy.
- Niche Advertising
- Local Listings- i.e. Google, Yahoo and Bing Maps
- Pay-Per-Click – i.e. Google Adwords
- Social Bookmarking – i.e. StumbleUpon and Reddit
Two Ways to Approach Advertising
Bear in mind that traffic directly from small business advertising doesn’t last. As soon as you stop advertising, the traffic disappears. Only about 1 percent of the traffic ever converts, so you’re typically spending 99 percent of your money on visitors who will never do anything for you. The market price reflects this reality, of course, but the more you can focus your efforts on that 1 percent, the better. Use these two strategies to combat the pitfalls of any advertising method.
– Ask for permission
Consider offering something for free in exchange for an email address. This might be a trial period, an ebook, or something else that would typically be proprietary. Ideally, it should be something that will win them over. You can then focus most of your small business advertising efforts on those who have agreed to hear from you, instead of wasting the money on the portion of traffic that will never convert.
– Think of ads as a focus group
Instead of using small business advertising as a primary method of capturing traffic, use it to test marketing strategies and ideas. The wide range of ad types available makes it possible for you to find out how certain kinds of keywords convert for you, and which demographics convert the best.
It also allows you to send instant traffic to a test landing page in order to see how well it works for you. This is great for split testing tools like Clicktale and Crazyegg. Using quantitative data as the basis of your small business marketing strategy is always a better choice.
Keep these two strategies in mind while you take advantage of the following 5 small business advertising ideas.
1. Niche Advertising
This is one of the best ways to drive targeted traffic to your site. If you are familiar with your niche, you should already be aware of some of the online communities that revolve around it such as blogs, forums, and online magazines. The costs of small business advertising are typically lower on these sites because they don’t have large traffic volumes. At the same time, you couldn’t ask for more targeted traffic for your small business marketing, because the people on those sites are already interested in your subject matter. This is why the smaller the niche, the more bang for your buck.
If you aren’t already familiar with the sites you should be using small business advertising on, start doing some Google searches and talk to some influential people in your niche. Find out where they spend their time online, and exercise small business marketing there if you can. Sign up for an ad network such as InfluAds or BuySellAds. These ad campaigns can be very effective on a limited budget.
2. Local Listings – i.e. Google, Yahoo & Bing Maps
One of the most cost effective ways for a small-medium business to target a local market is via online maps and yellow page type directory listings.
According to Google local searches are responsible for about 20% of all Google searches (that number climbs to about 33% for Google searches via the mobile Web). When you consider the fact that Google’s search volume for August 2010 was a little over 10.2 billion searches in the US alone, you can begin to appreciate just how significant the demand is for local content.
With local listings goal should showing up on the first page for relevant keywords on Google. Google will show up to 7 businesses in what they call their “local pack”. Getting your business to show up here is generally a lot easier than showing up in the natural SEO results using traditional Search Engine Optimization approaches.
3. Pay-Per-Click – i.e. Google Adwords
Reach people when they are actively looking for information about your products and services online and send targeted visitors directly to what you are offering. With Pay Per Click pricing and bidding, it’s easy to control costs-and you only pay when people click on your ad. With Pay Per Click you are also able to control where people land when they click on your ad. This allows you to direct people to your specific product or service page which will help increase your conversion rates.
If you plan to implement an SEO strategy Google Adwords is also a great way to test your theories. With Adwords you can have as many keywords and keyword phrases as you can think of. Run your campaign for a few months with a relatively small budget in order to test how your keywords are working for you. How many impressions, clicks, calls/emails and orders/new customers does each keyword get? Some might have a ton of clicks but if they don’t generate business they may not be right for you. Use the terms that work best for you in our SEO campaigns.
Despite it’s massive popularity, low cost small business advertising campaigns are still possible of Facebook if you know what you are doing. Costs of 10 to 15 cents are not an unreasonable goal. Still, it’s important to realize that if you use it incorrectly, you could easily end up spending 75 to 90 cents per visitor.
The primary benefit of Facebook is the ability to display small business marketing ads to people who have already expressed an interest in what you have to offer though their Facebook profile and their online discussions. You can also narrow down the ads to be displayed to people in a specific location, of a certain age, gender, relationship status, job, and so on. This incredibly targeted advertising method is great for conversions.
Achieving low cost small business advertising requires a high click-through-rate. Highly targeted ads with great headlines and a well-chosen image are more likely to get clicked on, and the more clicks you attract the less Facebook will be willing to charge you for each one of them.
An extremely targeted ad can be designed to address a user specifically, and this ramps up the click-through-rate. For example, you can use the city name in the ad, or something else that the user has already indicated.
Give the small business marketing campaign roughly twelve hours and review the results. Pause the ads that have a high cost and adjust your budget to focus on the ads with a lower cost-per-click.
Since the ads are highly targeted, they are focused on a small group of people, and they will burn out fairly quickly. Pause the ads that start to lose their click-through-rate, and create new ones.
5. Social Bookmarking – i.e. StumbleUpon & Reddit
StumbleUpon can be a great source of traffic, but it must be approached differently than the previous small business marketing campaigns. StumbleUpon effectively allows people to “channel surf” the internet, so the attention span of the average stumbler is low. It’s not uncommon to get bounce rates higher than 95 percent and average visit times of just a few seconds.
The good thing about StumbleUpon is that all visits cost only 5 cents. This gives you a low cost opportunity to bring some traffic to your site. The other important thing to keep in mind is that people can vote on your page. If it gets enough votes, it can become viral and bring tens of thousands of visitors at no extra cost to your small business marketing budget.
Keep in mind that people are using StumbleUpon for entertainment. They are unlikely to respond to marketing-oriented material, and typically won’t provide their email addresses. Asking for an email address may even put them off. Aim to entertain when using StumbleUpon, and leave the sales for later. Approach this content the way you would approach linkbait. Don’t give them a traditional small business marketing landing page. Your primary goal should be to keep the user on the site, and your secondary goal to get them to up-vote your page.
Like StumbleUpon, Reddit ads have the potential to go viral. They should be approached in much the same way, with entertainment as a primary goal.
Reddit’s ad structure is unique. You can choose implement small business marketing throughout the entire site, or on a targeted subreddit. You then choose how much money to spend. All the money goes into a common pot, and the number of impressions you are awarded is based on the percentage you contributed. This brings some uncertainty to your strategy, but if you play your cards right you can end up spending as little as 3 cents per visitor.
Reddit has a very unique culture and a successful small business marketing campaign requires spending some time on the site to see what this culture looks like. If you can win over the community, however, you will achieve some striking results because redditors are some of the most influential people on the web, and they love to share new material.
These ideas should get you on the right track. Remember to approach advertising strategically and with an experimental mindset. Use it to test what works and what doesn’t. Most small businesses are incapable of sustaining a positive ROI on advertising alone, but there is no quicker way to ramp up your conversion rate, and sometimes you may find yourself turning a profit. Ultimately, it is a vital learning experience.
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