We are big believers in social media – especially for certain types of businesses and industries. We use tools like Twitter and Facebook to connect and interact with people every single day, and we have seen it convert extremely well.
But we would be lying if we told our readers that social media was the end-all, be-all in marketing your business online. Like any system, there are limitations to the impact and reach it can have on your market.
In the grand scheme of things, social media only is a piece of the puzzle. Social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube work – but their effects can be compounded when bundled together with other systems to create the strongest online presence possible.
“Social media is an important piece of the online puzzle, but advertising may help scale your efforts more quickly.” Tweet This Quote
Today, we’re going to look at the advertising options you have online, and the benefits your small business may gain by driving more traffic and leads to your website.
1.) Banner Ads
Brands that drive a large amount of traffic to their website(s) are known as “publishers.” Each month, publishers make money by selling advertising space on their sites to other companies – most often in the form of banner ads.
Banner ads are the graphic blocks you find on the top, side and bottom of web pages and blog posts. When clicked, visitors are taken to the advertiser’s website, where they can learn more about the promoted product or service and/or sign up for something.
How Much Do Banner Ads Cost?
Banner ads are usually priced on a cost-per-impression (or CPM) basis.
- In Cost-Per-Impression (CPM) advertising, companies pay a flat fee for the number of times their ad is shown. In order to get a large enough sample size to calculate how many people are clicking on their ads, these rates are calculated per 1,000 impressions (or Milles, hence the CPM).
CPM rates range anywhere from $.50 to $5.00+ per 1,000 impressions – though the average is around $1.50. This means if your ad shows up on a website 10,000 times, it would cost your business $15.00 – no matter how many people click on your ad.
NOTE: This is important because ads that have a high click-through-rate (CTR) cost the exact same amount as those ads that no one clicks on.
How can I promote my business using banner ads?
Distributing banner ads used to be left up to individual sites, but today advertising networks like BuySellAds.com allow businesses to locate relevant blogs and websites, as well as upload artwork and manage their own campaigns from a single account.
Try signing up for a free account to see what types of sites currently have inventory, and test campaign budgets as little as $5 per month to get started.
2.) Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Millions of people use search engines like Google and Bing to find things across the Internet each day to find information on diverse topics like pumpkin pie recipes and beach houses to rent in Michigan.
Search engines then use their own formulas to find and display the most relevant and recent sources, known as organic search results. The better these organic results, the more like users are to continue to use their service.
The main reason search engines want to show quality organic results is so they can continue to slip in “inorganic” (or paid) results in the form of advertisements into the mix – known as Search Engine Marketing (or SEM).
What are SEM ads?
SEM results are the text-based advertisements that show up at the top and side of your search result pages. Since search engines know how often people search for “pumpkin pie recipes,” they are able to sell advertising space to companies who are willing to pay for the people who click on their ads.
SEM advertising is different than banner advertising because it uses a different pricing model known as pay-per-click, or PPC.
- Cost-Per-Click (or CPC) advertising is the most common search-based advertising option. Contrary to pay-per-impression, businesses pay a pre-determined rate each time someone clicks on their advertisement.
No matter how many times your ad shows, you only pay for those people who are actually interested enough to click on your ad.
3.) Facebook Ads
There is a joke on the Internet that Facebook knows more about you than you do about yourself. Some pundits say this is a bad thing; we think it’s good – especially for advertising.
Much of Facebook’s financial success is based on their ability to turn your personal information (who you are, where you live, what you like, where you’ve been, etc.) it into the basis for a highly-effective advertising platform.
As an advertiser, this should interest you greatly. Many traditional marketing mediums took the shotgun approach, blasting out messages to broad and varied audiences that may or may not respond.
Today, technology and information enable businesses to narrow their focus and connect with ONLY their target audience – be it 30 to 42 year-old soccer moms who like to watch Saturday Night Live over a glass of Pinto, or 15 to 18 year-old males who like skateboarding, Halo 3, and Shawn White.
Setting up your first Facebook ad campaign is simple if you currently have a personal profile and/or business brand page.
4.) Promoted Tweets on Twitter
Twitter claims that “…from the start, small businesses of all types have made their homes on Twitter.” While we hope this isn’t true, we do know that expanding your audience and reach can be a good fit for small businesses with systems already in place to manage the growth appropriately.
Why Pay for Advertising?
As a business owner, you understand that advertising what you do can raise awareness and generate leads. So how does online advertising stack up against traditional mediums?
- Targeted – The key benefit of using platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook ads is that the ads are highly targeted. AdWords delivers your messages to people who are search specifically for what you sell. Facebook gathers demographic information on every users and uses it to serve up highly targeted advertisements based on their age range, location, interests and more.
- Volume – The key to running a successful restaurant lies not in having great ingredients but in finding a starving crowd. Lots and lots of people use the Internet, both to search and surf for information each day. Online advertising allows you to reach a very large number of highly qualified customers in a short period of time, should your budget allow for it. Best of all, you can discover just how many people are search for your product or service before you ever spend a dollar.
- Specific Call-to-Action – Online advertising is highly actionable, perhaps more so than any other medium. Show an ad to the right person at the right time, and they can not only click to learn more information but can buy what you’re selling instantly. Try doing that with newspaper ads.
- Testable – The biggest reason we like online advertising so much is that it’s highly testable. Like a good science experiment, most advertising systems make it easy to test ads, then modify variables (the body text, the image, or the call-to-action) to maximize each campaign’s efficiency. Monitoring results and making necessary changes can lead to campaigns that convert very well.
The End Goal
Eyeballs > Leads > Sales
Simply put, online advertising enables your business to get in front of more people in a shorter amount of time. Getting in front of your ideal customer has become easier than ever with search tools like Google and targeted demographic platforms like Facebook.
If you deliver on your product offering and profit margins are high enough, advertising your business online can be an incredibly scalable way to grow your customer base.
Have you run any banner, search or Facebook ad campaigns for your business? If so, how have they performed? If not, what has been holding you back? What other questions do you need answered before getting started? Leave them in the Comments section down below.