If you’ve scrolled through Instagram and Facebook or ever used Google (all things which, let’s face it, we tend to do on a daily basis), you’ve no doubt seen the word ‘promotion’ next to posts from accounts you don’t follow.
In the case of Google search results, you will have noticed that the first results at the top of page one have ‘Ad’ written next to them.
In both cases, it’s not a coincidence: businesses have paid to be in that spot. That space, that second or two of a user’s attention, is a valuable commodity. It's prime real estate for advertisers.
That’s partly because our lifestyles have become increasingly digital.
We connect and keep in touch online; the internet is where we get our news and make our plans. More importantly for businesses with something to sell, whenever we want to find a service or product, our smartphones and laptops have become the gateway to all of the answers.
Facebook has over 2 billion monthly users, while Google handles more than 40,000 search queries every second. That’s around 5 billion searches every day.
No wonder companies are scrambling to place themselves and their services in visible positions. The customer journey has shifted and businesses large and small need to react.
Is online advertising right for your business?
But the question is, should your business consider running ads on Google, Instagram and Facebook? Which platform, if any, is right for your digital marketing needs? And what are the benefits of promoting goods and services online?
You might have heard stories at both ends of the spectrum. No doubt some companies have blown their marketing budgets on online promotions without achieving results. Others have spent a little and recouped a lot in return.
Which can make it seem hit and miss. But the truth is that online advertising is a complex process that involves a little speculation, lots of attention to detail and no small amount of research.
So let’s look at a few of the reasons small businesses are paying for online advertisements.
To Get Noticed
With so many people using Google and social media platforms, linking your brand to certain search terms and demographics is a great way to stand out and get noticed.
Without paid adverts, it can take a lot of time and effort to build online awareness around your business and drive the kind of traffic you need to make regular sales. Particularly if your industry is competitive.
Once your brand and products become established online, you’re halfway towards generating leads and making sales. But until then, carefully placed adverts can support your revenue or even provide the bulk of your income.
This will work differently depending on which platform your paid ads are running on.
With Google, there are various options. You can get build a reputation by association if your ads appear on websites that have content relevant to your chosen keywords. Or you can be more direct, and pay for your website or products to be offered as sponsored results for certain search terms in certain places.
With social media platforms, the process is slightly different. You choose the demographics you want to target and your ads will be placed on the feeds of those people.
To Win Business With Minimal Infrastructure
One of the biggest challenges small businesses face is standing out online. Ads, as we’ve mentioned, give you the opportunity to put products and services directly in front of potential customers, whether or not they are searching for them at the time.
This immediacy is important: You could launch ads today and be making sales as a result in no time at all. Many small businesses need to be making sales from day one to stay afloat and fund organic marketing methods. They can’t afford a 6-month period in which they gradually establish an online presence and win business solely through organic leads.
The ideal is a combination of the two approaches: Using enough ads to drive traffic, make sales and target your market directly, while building an online presence that will eventually do all of that for you organically.
According to Google, advertisers on their platform make $2 for every $1 spent. But it’s worth bearing in mind that adverts are just the way to get people onto your website. You’ve still got plenty of work to do once they arrive there to convert that interest into a sale.
To Provide More Purchase Pathways
Let’s say you brew your own beer. It’s pretty good and you decide you want to sell it. Sure, you can put a little stand in your front yard and hope to attract passersby. You might sell some and make a profit.
But what if you set up another stand in your local supermarket, or expanded to sell it in every bar around the country? Each time you set up somewhere new you’re providing more possible purchase pathways, connecting with more potential customers and, hopefully multiplying your revenue.
That is more or less what you’re doing if you decide to start advertising on multiple online platforms in multiple ways. You’re creating opportunities for sales where before there were none, which can only be a positive thing.
To Give You A Psychological Edge
Online Ads aren’t all about converting sales there and then. Sure, that’s the primary aim. But they are also useful tools to remind previous customers, convince those on the edge of a sale and keep your business in mind whenever a lead is ready to make a purchase.
Repetition, of your business, services or products, can lead to more sales in the long run. So even if your online ads don’t convert there and then, it doesn’t mean they aren’t having an impact.
Should You Use Online Ads To Market Your Business?
In short: yes. Absolutely. Whether you are selling products and services online, taking bookings, building an audience or generally trying to get noticed, online adverts can be invaluable.
But it’s not as easy as flicking a switch. There are questions you need to answer first: Do you need to pile money into online ads in order to generate revenue quickly, or can you afford to take a more balanced approach to build organic traffic, too?
Which platforms should you advertise on? What type of adverts should you choose? Who are your potential customers? Where are they spending their time online? Which search terms do they use to find what you sell? How do you optimise your online advertising efforts and make the most of every penny?
It’s easy to see why starting up can be a daunting task.
At Adriel, we’ve built an AI platform that takes the complexity out of crafting online ad campaigns.
Adriel optimises your campaign to connect with the customers you want to attract. Better still, it’s getting smarter every day and small businesses all over the world are seeing incredible results. Will yours be next?