Online Advertising for Small Businesses: How to Make the Most of a Small Budget

online advertising tips

Online advertising can seem out-of-reach for some small businesses but the truth is, if done correctly, that doesn’t have to be the case. When creating pay-per-click ad campaigns, the advertiser determines the daily budget spent and that can be as small as needed.

It can also be adjusted along the way if the ads are performing particularly excellently, or particularly poorly. Then from there, once the campaigns are up and running, return-on-investment can be easily proven.

How does pay-per-click advertising work?

biddable media

First, you need to select the right platform to test. This will depend on what sort of company you run, the product or service you’re advertising, and where your target audience might be. If you are a B2B business you might be more likely to find potential customers on LinkedIn, however, if you are selling a visual product and have lots of lovely imagery, Instagram ads might work better. For more information on which platform to choose for your brand read this article.

Once you’ve chosen a platform, an account has been set up, and the daily budget decided upon, you can soon start attracting traffic to your website. However, there are some very important elements to consider so you’re not wasting your budget on attracting the wrong traffic:

1. Location and language targeting

A great way to reduce wasted clicks, if your business only covers a particular geographical area, is to use location and language targeting. If you have a physical store and people are only likely to travel a particular distance to get there, then use Google’s radius targeting to only show your ads to people within your given area. (This distance may depend on how unique your business or product is and what competition is around.) This will stop any wasted impression share or clicks on people who are unlikely to convert.

If you are advertising an online business that can ship goods anywhere in the world, language targeting can be more challenging. However, if you know there is an area that is significantly more profitable to you as a business, start there. You can always expand your catchment later on.

2. Ad scheduling

If you know there are certain days of the week or times of day that are less likely to convert, then you can use ad scheduling to stop your ads showing at those times. Not all platforms offer this option yet, but the ones with the most flexibility are Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising.

3. Keyword and/or audience targeting

When it comes to sticking to budgets and not wasting money, keyword and/or audience targeting are the most important elements of a campaign to get right. 

Click costs for keywords on Google (and Microsoft Advertising) can range from next-to-nothing to amounts that are eye-watering-high. So depending on what you are advertising, the likely click costs can differ a lot, and nobody wants to waste money on clicks that are unlikely to convert.

It’s not only the terms you choose that are important but also the match types. If you really want to keep spending low, stick with exact match keywords, which give you the most control over when your ads are shown.

If you’ve decided to advertise on social media, be as specific as you can and use all the targeting options available – demographics, interests, device etc. – to pinpoint the people most likely to be your target customer. You can also use these filters on Google Ads to hone in on your searchers, so make sure you utilize all the targeting and bid adjustments available and remember:

quote about advertising

4. Bidding strategies

Most advertising platforms have different bidding strategies, bid types, or budget optimization options, so it’s a case of finding the one that works for you. Some work better than others.

Please note these should be tested carefully and monitored closely – they can cause a serious rise in click costs.

5. Landing page optimization

Another way to make the most out of the traffic brought to your site through paid ads is to ensure that the landing page is as user-friendly and optimized as possible. The worst thing you can do is spend money on directing people to your site and then send those users to a poor website or landing page. They’ll just up and leave without converting!

6. Track conversions

When utilizing a small budget, conversion tracking is essential so that you know what is working and what isn’t. Google Analytics is a popular free tool that many website owners use, allowing you to count conversions and see exactly what people are doing when they come to your site.

In summary

The main thing to remember when using online advertising as an SME is to set a budget, stick to it, and keep your targeting as specific as possible! Then make sure you are sending the traffic to a lovely, user-friendly landing page, track what they do on the site, test, learn, and optimize.

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Ashleigh Davison
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