How to advertise your small business online

Published: 20/01/2020

The way we advertise has changed dramatically in recent years and gone are the days you’d post an ad in your local paper or put some flyers through people’s doors and hope for the best. 

The internet has become the place to be for businesses of all sizes - take Google for example, they thank online advertising for 95% of its revenue. No doubt you want a piece of the action, but how do you advertise your small business effectively online?

We’re about to tell you. 

Let’s start from the beginning

Before we get stuck into the meaty stuff, let’s strip it back to basics and look at what online advertising actually is. 

There are two distinct categories: organic and boosted advertising. 

Boosted essentially means paid-for advertising. You create your advert and pay for it to appear in people’s social media feeds or Google results. Doing so will help you reach a wider and more targeted audience. 

Organic, on the other hand, doesn’t cost you a penny and is arguably less effective, but useful all the same and something all businesses should be doing. Organic advertising can be compared to word of mouth and involves posting your own content on social media, sharing information about your products and offerings, and using SEO (search engine optimisation). 

Which should you use? A combination of both is likely to yield the best results, but...

Don’t be too thrifty

So, we’ve told you that you can opt to pay for advertising or take the organic route. Our advice? Don’t hold onto the purse strings too tightly. 

Yes, it’s all about the bottom line, but ultimately putting a little bit of money aside for your online marketing efforts is likely to leave your bank account looking healthier in the long run. 

If you opt to wait for your organic efforts to yield results, there’s a chance it’ll be a long and rather unproductive process. By boosting your advertising efforts from the get-go, you’ll increase your audience and the number of people who see your organic ads going forward. 

Get on social media

If your small business isn’t on social media, you’re missing a trick. There were an estimated 2.77 billion active social media users in 2019, so making sure you’re part of the action will no doubt open the door to a wider customer base for your business. 

Facebook

Demi-God of social media is Facebook, and they have the largest user base and most active daily users (1.4 billion). In a nutshell, you need to be on it and if you’re not convinced by us then listen to experienced social media marketers, 95.8% of which said Facebook provided the best return on investment. 

On the platform, you can create free business pages which users ‘like’ to show an interest. You can post statuses, images, videos, links and more to your page, and you also have the option to boost your posts, run a campaign or create your own ad. 

By creating your own ad you’ll be able to:

  1. Set your marketing objective
  2. Choose your target audience
  3. Set the ad budget
  4. Choose how the ad is formatted
  5. Track performance and make adjustments

Of course, there’s always the option to use Facebook for free organic advertising too and you’ll be able to use all the same features to engage with your customers and highlight your business, it might not reach the same audience but who knows? Perhaps you’ll be the next viral sensation.

Instagram

With 500 million active daily users, Instagram works a little differently in that it’s all about the imagery, with captions coming secondary. When it comes to advertising on the platform there are two main ways to do it: pay for your advert to appear in user’s feeds or post stories. 

As with Facebook, you can create a business account on Instagram which allows you to pay to boost your advertising efforts, target your campaigns, and access analytics so you can track the performance of your ads.

Research has shown that Instagram consumers tend to be more brand loyal and engaged, so it’s definitely a good idea to get yourself on the platform and use it to advertise your small business. 

Tip: We’ve given you the low down on the two giants of social media, but there are other platforms that could boost your efforts too. For everything you need to know on using social media to benefit your business head to our comprehensive guide. 

The G word

Google. The king of the search engine with 63,000 searches every second (wow, right?).

Most small businesses probably already realise how important it is to be shown as close to the top of the search results as possible, but did you know you can pay Google to display your page in search results? It’s done through Google Ads and works like this:

  1. You pick keywords a customer might pop into Google
  2. Create an advert based on those words
  3. Bid against rival companies how much you’re willing to pay per click
  4. The more you pay the more your ad will appear

But it’s not just how much you’re willing to pay, Google also assigns something called an ‘ad rank’ to each advert which determines where they’re shown in a search result. It sounds a bit baffling, we know, but it’s worth getting your head around - head to Google Ads Help to find out everything you need to know. 

SEO

Again, with Google advertising, you’ve got the option to take the organic route. Search engine optimisation is essentially a way to make your business top of the list in Google results and if you do it yourself it doesn’t need to cost a penny (just your time). 

SEO involves optimising the content on your website - images, keywords and copy - to improve its ranking in search results. 

For everything you need to know about using SEO to benefit your business head to our handy guide.

Commit

Whichever method you choose to adopt, commitment and keeping your finger on the pulse is the key to success. 

With social media channels, for example, you need to keep your pages updated with your latest news, products and promotions as well as posting fresh and exciting content that will keep your customers engaged and interested. 

With Google, you need to keep up with the ever-changing algorithms and updates so your efforts are actually noticed. 

And remember, whether you pay for social media or Google ads, always make use of the analytics on offer to monitor how your ads are performing, which elements are working best and which are proving less popular. This information is gold dust and will help your future efforts be as successful as can be. 

Put these advertising ideas into practice and the customers will follow. Good luck!

Need to make sure you’re capable of accepting their payments once people are on your site? Whether it’s payment gateways, pay by link, phone payments or in-store options, we’ve got everything you could need. Get in touch with our team of experts on 08082 393254 to find out more. 

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