You know that you should be advertising online as a small business. And paid digital advertising is an excellent way to guide traffic to your site, increase sales, and encourage foot traffic. However, the best online advertising channels for your business will vary depending on the goals of your marketing campaigns and your overall budget.
We’ve put this article together to help you learn about the various advertising platforms and how to use them effectively to achieve your marketing goals.
The Best Online Advertising Channels for Small Businesses
There are several platforms that allow you to create and publish ads for your online audience. Finding the channels that work best for your business may take some trial and error. But you can lessen the learning curve by understanding how each channel works and what marketing efforts they best support.
What is Google Ads?
Google Ads is a digital advertising platform developed by Google. It allows businesses to bid to place brief advertisements, product listings, service offerings, and videos on its network of sites, apps, and videos or directly in Google search results.
How does Google Ads work?
When you search for something in Google, the top results have a little yellow box in the top left-hand corner that says “Ad”. Google Ads is how you can get your business to show up in those top 3 results.
Google Ads also allows you to place banner ads and “remarketing ads” on any site in its network that accepts ads. The banner ads that you see in the margins of a site or above the content you’re reading are usually placed with Google Ads.
Remarketing ads are personalized versions of these placements based on user history. When you go to a site, it drops a cookie that marks you as a visitor. That cookie follows you across every site you visit and shows you “reminder” ads. That’s how that mattress you were researching or those boots you obsessed over seem to “follow” you across the internet.
How much does Google Ads Cost?
The cost of Google Ads varies wildly depending on your industry. This is because Google Ads is a “pay per click” advertising format. That means that no matter how many times your ad is shown, you only pay for the ad if someone clicks on it and is led to your site.
What determines whether your ad is shown is a combination of the keywords or search terms you want to show up for and the bid you put in. There are only three or so ad spots at the top of Google results. But there could be dozens of plumbers in your city who may be advertising through Google Ads. So they “bid” on keywords and the highest bidders show up in the results. The more competitive the keywords are, the higher the cost to show up.
Less popular and highly specific keywords cost less to advertise for (maybe $1-$3 per click) while broad, highly searched terms can cost up to $10+ per click. But the average cost-per-click across all industries is around $2.69 according to 2021 Google data.
Basically, Google Ads costs as much as your budget allows. You set a budget for your campaign and your ads run until the money is used up.
When should I use Google Ads?
Of the major platforms, Google Ads has the greatest reach for the lowest cost. Google is the most popular search engine in the world and has millions of sites in its advertising network. It also owns YouTube and the video advertising that runs through that platform.
Because it allows you to show up in the top search results, Google Ads is a great choice for small businesses that want to support their organic SEO results. Having trouble showing up in search results for your products or service offerings? Google Ads can vault your business to the top results.
Already showing up in the top three organic results? Even better. When people see a brand listed in multiple spots on the results page, it instills a feeling of trust and recognition that makes them even more likely to click on your link and convert.
Google Ads puts your ad in front of people who are searching for you or the services you provide, making it easy for them to find you at the moment that they need you.
Bing Ads and Microsoft Ads are pay-per-click search ads that put your ad in the top search results for Bing or Microsoft users when they search your chosen keywords and search terms. These ads work in exactly the same way as Google Ads, but for all the sites and apps within the Bing or Microsoft network.
When should I use Bing/Microsoft Ads?
Bing and Microsoft ads are an excellent choice for those who are already doing well in Google Search results and want to capture a wider audience. They are also an excellent way to reach a certain demographic. Bing and Microsoft’s demographics skew significantly toward older, higher-income audiences so these ads can give you more bang for your buck if that’s your targeted audience.
There’s also a lot less competition on both platforms, so your budget will likely go further and your cost-per-conversion may drop significantly when compared to Google Ads.
Bing also gives you more granular control with your ad groups, which means that you can be hyper-specific about which ads are seen by certain segments of your audience. This is fantastic news for businesses with services that are age-specific.
For instance, if you are a dentist that offers specialized pediatric services, you can ensure that only certain age groups (young families) are shown your pediatric ads. This kind of focused advertising can increase your chances of conversion.
Local Service Ads
What are Local Service Ads?
Local Service Ads are also a Google product. These pay-per-lead ads appear on normal SERPs (search engine results pages) across mobile, tablet, and desktop, as well as voice search. When people search for specific services (i.e. “best plumber in San Francisco” or “HVAC company near me”), Local Service Ads shows “Google Guaranteed” service providers in the top three spots in little clickable boxes with green check marks next to their names.
How do Local Service Ads Work?
The Local Services section of search results is shown at the top of the Google result page when people search for services in the area you’ve chosen. Customers can click or tap the ad to call or message your company directly. You can also set up the ad to allow potential customers to schedule a booking right then and there.
When the customer interacts with your ad, you will receive an email notification from the platform and then the lead is yours to follow up on. If you fail to respond to messages or return calls, your ad rankings will go down, so make sure that you have a good pipeline of communication.
These ads are pay-per-lead, so you only pay when someone calls or messages you directly through the ad.
The only catch to using this service is that you must be “Google Guaranteed” which involves background checks, checking licenses, and proof of insurance. But it’s well worth the process when you’re able to pay for direct, qualified leads.
When should I use Local Service Ads?
Local service ads are one of the best online advertising channels for service-based small businesses who want direct leads and are able to provide all the information required to become Google Guaranteed. Because people are shown your ads when they need your services, you receive a much more qualified level of leads than from traditional display advertising.
What are Facebook Ads?
Facebook Ads are pay-per-click ad campaigns that you run through the social media platform. The ads are shown to Facebook users to the audience you define in your campaign. You can target based on location, demographics like age and gender, etc.
You can create Facebook ads with a variety of content including display ads, short videos, and existing posts.
When should I use Facebook Ads?
Facebook ads are, on average, the most cost-effective ads of the online advertising channels for small and midsize businesses to generate new customer inquiries. If you have a smaller budget, you will likely reach the largest audience through Facebook ads. This makes them an excellent option for businesses looking to raise awareness about their services.
Facebook ads also allow you to be very specific about your ideal customer–their age, location, even their interests. You can also choose from a variety of CTAs or “call-to-action” buttons. “Learn More,” “Buy Now,” “Book Now,” “Buy Tickets,” etc. These customizations make Facebook ads one of the best online advertising channels for advertising an event, a special, a sale, or some other limited-time event or promotion.
Facebook Ads differ from the search ads listed above in that they are not based on search terms or keywords. This means that your audience is being shown your ad while on Facebook and not necessarily at the exact time that they need your services.
What are Yelp Ads?
Yelp Ads are pay-per-click ads that include search-based and display ads through the Yelp platform. When people are searching for services and reviews in Yelp, you can show up in the “sponsored results” at the top of the page.
When should I use Yelp Ads?
Yelp is a great choice for service-based and specialty small businesses. Yelp is a tight community, which means the competition is less fierce than it is on Google, Bing, and Microsoft Ads which encompass the entirety of the internet. Yelp focuses on the service industry and customer reviews of those services.
Yelp is also unique among these suggestions in that it can help with your organic SEO results. Google takes into account Yelp reviews, profiles, and interactions when it decides where to rank you in organic search results. So using Yelp can actually boost your ranking on Google while also bringing in leads!
If you’re going to use Yelp for advertising, you’ll want to make sure that your Yelp profile is fully filled out and that you invite all of your customers to review you on the site.
What Are the Benefits of Paid Ads?
- Get more quality leads: Increase the number of people who contact your company rather than the competition.
- Increase brand awareness: Help local people recognize your company, understand the services you provide and have positive associations.
- Very targeted and granular: Target people who are interested in your services, in your area, and are actively searching during your business hours.
- Easily tracked and adjustable (ad copy, targeting, budget, etc.): You can keep track of what is working and what isn’t. Based on results, you can easily pivot to target the right people, which results in increased sales!
For more information about the best online advertising channels for growing your small business, attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo! You’ll learn about how an all-in-one solution can help you maintain an active and consistent digital footprint, get found in local search, and engage customers wherever they choose to interact with your brand online.