Advertising Your New Business Online: Key Tips

Digital AdvertisingLong gone are the years when only the rich businesses could afford advertising and long gone are the days when advertising involved throwing money and looking for a spike in sales to attribute to the whole campaign. Digital advertising (including pay per click) has created a system in that benefits businesses of all sizes as the barrier to entry is far lower than that of traditional, print, radio and TV advertising.

In theory a business could have an advertising budget of less than £1 and there are so many options out there that it would be able to reach customers with a variety of different methods of targeting, but with the options and easy-access comes the dilemma of choosing whether to advertise on Google, Facebook or elsewhere.

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to focus on YouTube, Google and Facebook adverts, but many of the same ideas I discuss about Facebook adverts can transfer over to other social media sites. When I say Google, I mean Google Shopping, Adwords and the Display network (including retargeting).

Customer Intent

The most important thing to do when deciding where to advertise is think about customer intent. We are interested in doing different things at different times when we are on social media compared to when we are searching on Google.

When we search on Google, we are specifically looking for something, so if you can present an advert to the user as they are looking for what you do, be it an advert on Google Adwords, or a Google Shopping listing, you have a better chance of getting them to convert than if you presented the advert to them at another time.

This sounds like the perfect way of making money, and for many it is, with Google previously saying that businesses who advertise on Adwords make an average of $2 in income for every $1 they spend on the platform, according to Protocol 80. However, as this is an effective form of advertising, it can be expensive, and as advertisers bid to be seen by consumers, the cost can be pretty high for many mainstream keywords.

You could, of course just bid low, but you’ll struggle to be found as according to SiteWit, the top 3 paid ad spots get 41% of the clicks on the page.

There’s another stumbling block too. If your product or service is something that people are already searching for, then Adwords or Shopping may be perfect for you, however if you are selling something unique and completely unheard of, nothing like anything else on the market, then you may find that nobody is searching for what you do.

What If Nobody Searches for What I Do?

In this scenario, there are a couple of options. You could target keywords that are loosely related to what you do, or you could use YouTube, Facebook or Display (banner) advertising. Either way, it’s less likely that those who see your adverts will be ready and intent on buying what you do at that moment.

You may therefore find that your cost per acquisition is higher, but if you have found a product market fit, you could excite people so much that your offering is so eye catching that they stop what they are doing and buy. For this approach, something visual that really does your product justice is needed. For example, a video, a sponsored post or potentially a banner advert.

The Dartboard

The above shows one variable which may lead you to choose either PPC or social adverts, but when choosing your strategy as a startup, you really need to have a look at all the options. The below shows almost a dartboard (it’s just loosely based on a dartboard).

Advertising for small businesses

The bullseye is the point at which someone is looking to buy exactly what you do. As you can see, you can find these people through Google Adwords and Google Shopping. However, as we move further out we see Retargeting, Display, Facebook and YouTube. These are more interruptive adverts that are less likely to reach your customers when they are about to buy.

Your Budget and Your Priorities

I’m assuming that if you are starting a business, you don’t have the biggest budget in the world. This article is aimed at small business owners rather than multi-millionaires. Therefore, you may not have the money to throw at all types of advertising and you have to be picky. When starting a business, the early stages are about proving you can make money, so you should try to pick up as many sales as you can for as cheap as possible.

You should aim as close to the bullseye as possible. If people are searching for your product, advertise in the search results. If they aren’t, then you will have to step into an interruptive form of advertising. You may have to take a longer approach and entice people to like your page, before nurturing them towards becoming a paying customer.

There is a limit to the amount of people searching for a certain thing though. For example, as you can see if you check Google’s Keyword Planner, your service may only be searched for 10 times a month, so there’s a definite limit to the amount of search traffic you can pick up on. Once you have cleared that opportunity, you should use other forms of marketing to increase brand awareness and pick up those who may be interested.

There is also the stumbling block of the cost per click. Some keywords can be too expensive to justify the spend, so you may have no choice but to either use looser match keywords or cheaper advertising. The point of this article is to encourage you to take advantage of those advertising opportunities that are affordable and close to the centre of the dartboard before blowing your whole budget on interruptive advertising.

It’s important to have a full strategy when it comes to your paid advertising, covering awareness, interest, desire and action, but when starting out, remember that getting those sales in is the most important thing for you.

If you’d like to discuss your digital advertising strategy with me, please get in contact.

About the Author

Patrick is a digital marketing consultant with around 10 years' experience, covering SEO, PPC, social media, email and user experience.

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