Online advertising has become an indispensable tool for many small businesses to grow and it is important to choose the right type for your business and budget.
There are three main types of digital ads, those in search engines; those on social media platforms and those on websites, plus some specialist types, like SMS ads and native content ads. Here are the various digital advertising options to help you choose the best for your business, products/services and your target market:
Search engine marketing (SEM)
SEM is a type of online advertising that allows businesses to display their ads on search engine results pages (SERPs). When someone searches for a keyword or phrase that is relevant to the business's products or services, the ad can appear at the top of the SERP. Google Ads is the most well-known SEM tool but all the search engines offer ads and some of the smaller ones may be cheaper.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is the most common form of SEM ads and functions by businesses bidding on keywords relevant to their products or services. They only pay when users click on their ads and the price is set in the bidding process. The auction and bidding process makes it harder to access the cost of a campaign in advance.
SEM is most effective when your target market knows what they are searching for or if your product/service can solve a specific problem that people search for. It is harder to use and is expensive when there is a lot of competition. It requires a budget big enough to run over a minimum of a few months in order to test and refine the ads to work well.
Social media marketing (SMM)
Paid social media marketing is advertising to users on specific social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and X although there are many more platforms to choose from. Businesses can target their ads based on users' demographics, interests and behaviours.
Social media advertising can be a very effective way to reach a specific audience. It requires effort in the creation of the audience as well as the creation of the copy, something many businesses get wrong.
Display advertising involves placing graphic ads on websites and mobile apps. In the same way as with social media marketing, businesses can target their display ads based on users' demographics, interests and behaviours.
There are two main options here – you can choose a specific website/app and, where possible, advertise directly on that site. The alternative is to use a display network, which then places your ads on a whole variety of websites that should meet the targeting criteria you assign to it. Google Display Network is a common one to use.
Other options include:
Native Advertising: Having your name, a topic or blog post title seamlessly integrated into someone else’s content making it less intrusive for users. It can be an effective way to promote blog posts or articles.
Email Marketing: Having your messages or graphics embedded in another business’ marketing emails gives your messaging the authority of the business sending the email and reaching their target audience. This is very effective but the opportunities for this kind of marketing are often limited.
Affiliate Marketing: Partnering with other businesses who promote your products or services in exchange for a commission can be a cost-effective way to expand your reach.
Podcast Advertising and other types of sponsorship: If your target audience is podcast enthusiasts or likely to be involved in a specific club, sponsoring popular podcasts and events can build brand awareness.
Which type of online advertising is right for your small business?
Each of these online advertising methods has its own advantages and best-use scenarios. To make the most of your advertising budget, it's essential to understand your target audience, set clear goals and analyse the performance of your campaigns.
The best type of online advertising for your small business will depend on your specific business goals and budget. If you're looking to reach potential customers who are already interested in what you have to offer, SEM can be a good option. If you're looking to build brand awareness, social media advertising and display advertising can be good options. If you're looking to engage potential customers and tell your brand story, video advertising can be a good option.
Contact us if we can help you choose which platform would suit your business best and get the most out of your advertising.