Five Effective Online Advertising Strategies For Your Small Business
Did you know that 83% of consumers conduct research online before making a purchase locally? Are your potential customers finding you, or are they finding your competitor? Here are five effective online advertising strategies you can use to increase your visibility and your profits.
1. Search Engine Optimization – Assuming your business has it’s own website, search engine optimization (SEO) can help your site rank higher in search results, which is essential if you want to be found online. If your site doesn’t show up on the first page of the results, chances are your customers are not finding you.
SEO is not complicated, but it can be confusing for those who don’t have the time to study the methods various search engines use to rank web sites. It is possible to spend a small fortune with very poor results. Before embarking on any SEO journey, enlist the help of a qualified professional. Be sure to check references and ask for proof of results before agreeing to work with any SEO firm.
2. Pay Per Click – Pay per click advertising works by driving potential customers to your business’s website through ads placed on other sites and in search engine results pages. Each time a potential customer clicks your ad, you pay a fee to the PPC network. The amount of the fee varies and will depend on the popularity of the keywords you target, and the competition among advertisers for that keyword.
It is worth noting that pay per click can be a risky business, since the advertiser pays regardless of whether or not a sale is actually made. It would be wise to consult an expert before beginning any pay per click advertising program.
3. Affiliate Programs – Whether you sell a physical product (think car parts or power tools) or provide a service, offering an affiliate program can be a good way to improve your sales. Affiliate programs essentially provide a business with a stable of sales people who all work on straight commission. When your customer makes a purchase through an affiliate link, the affiliate earns a small percentage of the total sale.
Affiliate programs are typically managed by an affilate manager who is in charge of providing promotional materials to affiliates, and who is available to answer any questions and handle any commission disputes that might arise. You can choose to host your own affiliate management software to track clicks and sales, or you can join an affiliate network like Commission Junction or Share A Sale to avoid any technical hassles and to take advantage of their existing network of affiliates.
4. Banner Ads – Banner ads refer to any ad space you buy (or rent) on a website. Ads can vary in size from very small to nearly full screen. Some ads pop up or under an open web page, some have moving graphics, some are interactive and change depending on the movements of the mouse pointer.
Banner ads can be purchased on individual web sites for a set period of time, but unless you can easily target the sites your potential customers are reading, this can be tricky. Banner advertising can also be sold through advertising networks. Similar to affiliate networks, advertising networks manage the technical details for you in exchange for a fee. Some popular advertising networks are Value Click Media and BlogHer.
5. Internet Yellow Pages – Internet Yellow Page Directories are increasing in popularity as more and more consumers turn to the Internet first in their search for local businesses. One recent study commissioned by comScore showed that Internet Yellow Pages gained in popularity in 2009, with 21% of respondants citing Internet Yellow Pages as their primary source of local business searches online.