Beyond the ads you see on Facebook, Instagram, and Google, digital advertising may be something of a mystery to you. Many small- and medium-sized businesses aren’t sure where to start when it comes to digital marketing, because it is still fairly new and its landscape is ever-changing.
Given the challenges, you may be curious about where to start with digital marketing. If you were doing a test — committing a small amount to digital marketing to try it out — where should you put that money to be most effective? Here’s a guide to where to spend your first digital dollars:
Google search ads: When it comes to search results, being on top of the pile is important. That’s why, when you search on Google, the top results are frequently paid content — that is, ads a company has placed based on the keywords you just typed. Google search ads can be fairly expensive, especially if the keywords you want your ad associated with are highly competitive. Placing an ad for the keywords “garden tips” will be much more expensive than an ad for the keywords “Muskogee ornamental nursery.” The trade-off, of course, is that fewer people are searching for the second than the first. But if you find the sweet spot where people are searching for the term and the term isn’t too competitive or expensive, you’re in business. Also, you can adjust your Google ads over time, as needed, as you begin to see what is working and what isn’t.
Remarketing through Google: Another Google advertising service is remarketing — that’s when ads follow you around the internet after you visit a particular website. Yes, it might feel creepy, but these days it is accepted practice. It’s also very effective. Remarketing helps keep your company in front of previously interested individuals who, on second thought, might want to make a purchase.
Facebook ads: Say what you will about Facebook, it is still an effective and relatively inexpensive place for highly-targeted digital ads. You can target customers based on geography, gender, interests, age, and more. Sponsored stories (rather than sidebar ads) look like posts in users’ feeds, and you can take on two of the top social networks at once by posting your Facebook ads to Instagram, too (Facebook owns Instagram). Even better news is that Facebook ads tend to be inexpensive, around $1 or $2 per click. You can also do A/B testing if you want, and (like Google) you can adjust your campaign as it runs.
Search engine optimization: Online ads are great, but can your website be found without them? If someone types a search into Google that should, by all rights, include your company in the results, are you showing up in the first or second spot? Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving various aspects of your website to increase the likelihood that search engines will rank it higher for certain keywords. SEO is generally a service provide by digital firms, and can be done at reasonable rates.
A few final caveats and tips: First, everything above assumes that your website is in good working order. If your website looks old and tired, if it doesn’t work correctly, or it is poorly organized, it will have a negative effect on your business. Your website is the first digital investment you should make, if you haven’t already.
Second, there are some things you can do in the digital realm that are free and will give you a leg up: (1) claim and update a Google My Business page for your company, (2) follow the social media accounts of businesses that are related to yours — that might mean other local companies or other companies in the industry, and (3) set up Google Analytics and Tag Manager to study traffic behavior on your website, including demographics of site visitors.
The digital world can seem massive, but like any new challenge, if you take it a step at a time, you’ll be in great shape. Best digital wishes!