Choosing the right advertising campaign for your small business can feel a bit daunting. The good news is that with the advent of digital marketing, it is much easier for a small business to reach new customers without a huge marketing budget.
With digital marketing, you can see phenomenal results whether your team consists of one person or 100.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the best and most affordable ways to get your message out there without spending a bundle. These days, that typically means leveraging the power of digital advertising as opposed to running traditional advertising campaigns.
Traditional advertising campaigns vs. digital marketing
Now, we are not saying you should never run a traditional advertising campaign. For many small businesses, traditional advertising still has a very important part to play in their overall marketing strategy.
Traditional advertising campaigns for small businesses would include everything from local radio and TV spots to classified ads in the local weekly newspaper or circular. They can include offering coupons in special coupon mailers, billboards, and print ads. They can even include advertising on city street benches and moving billboards on the backs of trucks.
Traditional marketing still has its place, and in most cities, you will still find tons of local ads out and about. However, digital marketing and online advertising have some great advantages.
There are five main benefits to digital advertising:
1. Digital advertising typically costs less.
Traditional advertising often has significant costs to it. Even classified ads can be expensive if you want to have the ad highlighted properly. Designing print ads requires the services of graphic designers in addition to the fee for being in the magazine or newspaper. Radio and TV spots require production as well.
On the other hand, digital marketing can be relatively cheap if not free, if you put some effort into it. Posting on Twitter, for example, doesn’t cost you anything.
Sure, you can pay to have posts promoted, but building a following cost you nothing but your time. This is great for small businesses with small budgets.
2. Digital campaigns can be planned on the fly.
Traditional advertising often has to be planned in advance, sometimes months in advance. If you suddenly decide you want to run a last-minute sale, you can’t easily whip up a traditional advertising campaign and expect stellar results.
For instance, a magazine may only print four times in a year and your ad needs to be submitted three months before it hits the newsstand.
However, with digital marketing, you can advertise a sale on a whim. For example, once you have built up a large enough email list, all it takes is a few lines of ad copy and the push of a button to advertise your latest sale and you’ll still see a return on your efforts.
3. Digital advertising can be easily tracked.
Digital marketing’s main benefit over offline marketing is that you can easily track everything. You can track how many times your ad was clicked on vs. how many times it was viewed. You can track how many people opened up your email newsletter.
Analytics is the biggest boon to digital marketing and is something you can take advantage of easily.
4. Digital ads can be updated quickly.
Did you decide you wanted to send a different message than the one you just put out? You can easily update your website or change your online pay-per-click ad to reflect your new messaging.
Not so much with offline advertising. If you spot a typo after your coupon has gone out, you’re stuck with it.
5. Digital marketing has a global reach.
Global reach is one of the best parts of online marketing. You can easily advertise your small business all over the globe, gaining many more customers than you would have if you were just a local brick and mortar store.
Driving ROI through digital advertising
ROI stands for Return on Investment. That means you bring back more revenue than you spent on expenses. With online advertising, you can easily track your earned ROI through the power of analytics.
The trick is to create comprehensive digital marketing campaigns that actually drive revenue. For small businesses, this means leveraging the best online advertising opportunities that provide a better bang for your buck.
For the industrious small business owner (especially if you are a solopreneur who has to do almost everything yourself), this can be fairly easy to accomplish. You just need to decide how much time you want to spend and when it’s time to pay someone else to get the job done.
In the next section, we’ll look at the top five digital advertising opportunities for your small business and how to make the most of them.
The 5 best types of digital advertising campaigns for small businesses
Digital advertising campaigns come in many sizes and forms. You can focus on just one area or do a little bit in each to spread out your reach.
1. Pay-per-click advertising
Pay-per-click ads are now the old workhouse of digital marketing. These are the ads you see above or next to your search results when you use Google, Bing, or other search engines to look up topics online. The challenge with pay-per-click advertising is that a lot of the most popular keywords are extremely expensive now.
If, for example, you were starting up a business that uses a popular keyword (like “online classes”) then you might be looking at spending $100 (or more!) per click. This is obviously not financially feasible for most small businesses.
The key to making pay-per-click affordable is to use “longtail keywords,” which is a fancy name for a collection of keywords that is long and much more specific. Thus, instead of spending $100 on “online classes,” you might find a much cheaper longtail keyword such as “online classes in underwater basket weaving.”
Furthermore, pay-per-click is the most expensive when it’s done through the top search engines like Google. You can often find smaller pay-per-click venues like BidVertiser that aren’t as well known. They don’t have as wide a reach, but they are much, much cheaper.
2. Email campaigns
Email newsletters and campaigns absolutely must be a part of your digital marketing strategy as a small business. These are a no-brainer. On your website, you simply put up an opt-in form for your potential customers so they can keep up-to-date on what your company is up to. Many email service providers offer plugins that make integrating sign-ups and your website simple.
Don’t have a website? No problem. Don’t forget about your Facebook page!
You can also add an email newsletter signup form on Facebook. In fact, with a Facebook page and an email list, you can start marketing your small business even without a separate website.
Once you have an email list, you should engage with it regularly. Follow best practices for email campaigns to get better results.
3. Content marketing
Content marketing is all the rage these days, but what exactly is it? In short, content marketing means using content—such as blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.—to drive search engine traffic and customer engagement. Primarily, this is done through having keyword rich content on your website, typically in your blog.
Remember what we said earlier about those longtail keywords? These same keywords you use for your pay-per-click ads should also be used for your blog posts. This means the search engines will index your blogs based on those longtail keywords, and you will get organic traffic (and hopefully leads!) from that.
Use tools like this free keyword niche finder from WordStream to discover some great keywords to use.
Content marketing can also refer to multimedia content such as YouTube videos if that’s a platform your ideal audience uses.
4. Social media outreach
Social media is often hyped up as the main way to get leads online these days. Of course, it’s still important, but don’t expect too much from it unless you’re willing to invest in it.
Social media works when you either spend a significant amount of time or money on it. For example, Facebook has a powerful targeted online advertising system that can be great for small businesses, but just realize that you aren’t going to get 100 signups from a cheap $5 spend.
Thus, with social media, you need to decide which places you want to focus your attention (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or others) and whether you want to spend your efforts on organically growing followers through your own time and energy, or spending money on ad spends. Your choice.
5. Online display or banner ads
Last but not least, don’t forget banner ads.
Depending on your product or service, you may be able to find super cheap banner advertising on a small niche website or blog that speaks to your target audience. The banner advertising you get may be a full sponsorship with a website owner that actively promotes you because you are helping keep the site afloat.
Look for those opportunities that other online marketers ignore, and you can do quite well.
In summary, digital marketing offers wonderful opportunities for small businesses. This is due in part to the following:
- Digital advertising typically costs less.
- Digital campaigns can be planned on the fly.
- Digital advertising can be easily tracked.
- Digital ads can be updated quickly.
- Digital marketing has a global reach.
Take advantage of these opportunities to see your business soar.
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