3 Cost-Effective Small Business Advertising Ideas

Online advertising is necessary for small and large businesses alike, but small business advertising is decidedly more difficult. Your staff is smaller, and your marketing budgets are smaller too. How do you compete with bigger businesses under the circumstances?

The good news is, with the right strategies in place, you can use online advertising to drive leads, sales, and ROI, no matter what size you are. In this guide, we'll share some strategies and tips to help you raise brand awareness and grow your business on a small budget.

SWOT analysis for small businesses

When thinking about how best to market your small business online, start by asking yourself:
  • What are your customers searching for online?
  • Where and when are they searching for it?
  • How can you differentiate your product from competitors?

Once you answer these questions, you can put an advertising strategy in place to help you reach more people and build your business.

If you're a small business looking for affordable, achievable online advertising ideas, keep reading!

Using Google AdWords for Small Business Advertising

Way back in the 20th century, small business advertising usually involved broadcasting your message to large groups of people, hoping to catch the attention of a small percentage of them. You'd place an ad in the Yellow Pages or a local newspaper, or perhaps buy a radio spot, and hope for the best.

Online advertising is generally more cost-effective and more effective, period, because you're able to target your advertising budget at a more select group of people, and closely measure how that audience responds to your advertising.

One of the most measurable forms of online advertising is paid search marketing, a system that allows you to place advertisements in the search results when people are searching for products or services related to what your business offers. You then pay a small fee to the search engine every time somebody clicks on one of your ads. For this reason, paid search marketing is also known as PPC, or pay-per-click marketing.

using google for small business advertising

Because Google is the world's most popular search engine, Google's search advertising system, Google AdWords, is the most popular platform for PPC.

You can make AdWords work even on a limited budget by adhering to these best practices:

  • Bidding on keywords with high intent: Only place advertisements on keyword searches that reveal commercial intent, or intention on the part of the searcher to buy something. For example, if you're a real estate agent, you'll get more value out of people searching for specific phrases like "boston 2 bedroom apartment available now" than something broad and generic like "vacation rentals." Keyword research will help you find those "sweet spot" keyword terms.
  • Using various targeting methods to focus your budget: For example, you could use targeting parameters to only show ads to users in a certain demographic (such as women or people with high incomes), or to restict your ads so they only appear during your small business's active operating hours.
  • Working to improve your Quality Score: Google assigns every keyword in your AdWords account a Quality Score, which is a "grade" between 1 and 10 that assesses how relevant your ads are to people searching for that keyword. The more relevant your ads, the better your score, which means that Google rewards you with higher ad rankings at a lower cost per click. Accordingly, businesses that take the time to create high-quality ads can get more exposure for less money.

To learn more about how AdWords works, check out:

Using Bing Ads for Small Business Advertising

Bing has a smaller share of the search engine market than Google, but it's still used by millions of people every month. That's millions of people you could be reaching with your advertising! As a bonus for small businesses, Bing Ads also tends to be less costly than AdWords.

On average, costs per click (or CPC's) on Bing Ads are 33% lower than on Google AdWords. A few more reasons to try adding Bing Ads to your online advertising mix:

  • Bing Ads offers more granular control of some parts of your advertising campaigns
  • Bing is especially popular among older, more affluent demographics, as well as in the travel industry
  • Bing has better device targeting options

Bing Ads breakdown by audience

Further, if you're already using Google AdWords, it's easy to duplicate your AdWords campaigns and use the same ad creative on Bing. So there's very little reason not to reach that additional audience that might be interested in your business.

Social Media Advertising for Small Businesses

Paid advertising on popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is another attainable and effective way to advertise your small business.

The reasons to advertise on social media are clear. Let's take Facebook for example. About 80% of Americans use Facebook, and more than half of U.S. residents use Facebook several times a day!

facebook posted massive increases in cost per click despite losses in impressions

Facebook advertising costs are also lower on average than other forms of online advertising, and Facebook offers an amazing degree of granularity when it comes to targeting options. If you want to reach men between the ages of 19 and 26 who live in California, vote Democrat and like gadgets, you can do that!

For more help with Facebook ads, check out:

All three of these avenues (Google, Bing, and Facebook) can and should be a part of your small business marketing strategy.

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