What is the best advertising for small business?

Alan Clerkin

Alan Clerkin

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For small and medium business, money can be tight, so when advertising, you want to make sure you are reaching your potential clients and not blowing your advertising money and getting no new customers.

When we set up our business in 2008, Dublin Mail Drop, bar having a great online presence, we advertised mainly in print media. This is a very broad way of advertising, reaching a broad audience and it’s kind of a lucky dip of reaching a potential customer. We haven’t had an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine since 2014. From my point of view advertising should now be only done online via Google Adwords and also on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. I think only supermarkets advertise in newspapers now. Like I’m actually stunned newspapers still exist.

So before you start advertising you need to ask yourself the following:

1. What is your single key message in one sentence?
2. Is your market in a small geographic area, national or international?
3. What is the key objective or purpose of this campaign? Why are you advertising?
4. What demographic are you targeting?
5. What are your keywords when advertising online?
6. What are your product/services key benefits?

In a recent report, Irish Digital Advertising Spend grew by 17% to €673 million in 2019 according the latest  IAB / PwC Online Adspend Study. Of this figure, social and video display advertising rose by 30% to €326 million while search was up by 7% to €306 million. Search advertising, meanwhile, grew by 7% to €306 million and now commands a 45% share of the total Irish digital advertising market. Elsewhere classified online advertising performed strongly, growing by 8% to €41 million in 2019.

So let me outline a number of platforms for online and PPC advertising:

1. Google Adwords:
Google AdWords is a marketplace where companies pay to have their website ranked at the top of a search results page, based on keywords.
Google Adwords is pretty cool. So you can target a geographical area and narrow down the search with your keywords. As we all know Google is the world’s most popular search engine, Google’s search advertising system, Google Ads, is the most popular platform for PPC.

So if you don’t have a Google Adwords account set up, you should do and then I have to recommend, you should actually call their helpline and talk to one of their PPC advertising specialists. They will outline quite a number of cool things on the platform in relation to demographics, keywords and geographical targeting.

Basically AdWords lets you jump the organic ranking. Instead of waiting around, building up an lots of content on your website and links over the course of a few months and years, you can jump straight to the number one position on page one. The Adwords marketplace works as an auction. You bid money for clicks.

Google counts the clicks on your ads and charges you for each click. They also count impressions, which is simply the number that tells you how often your ad has already been shown when users searched for that keyword. If you divide clicks by impressions, you get the click-through-rate, or CTR. This is just the percentage of users who land on your advertised page because they clicked on your ad. This is important, because click-through rate tells you which ads are working well and which aren’t.

2. Facebook Advertising:
Whilst Google is the biggest search engine in the world, Facebook is a biggest social media company in the world. Facebook now have over 1. 6 billion active users. Although advertising on Facebook can be thought as similar as Google Adwords, in that both platforms are really promoting their businesses online, but this is where the similarities end. Unlike paid search via Google, which helps companies find new customers by their keywords, paid social on Facebook help users find businesses based on the things they are interested in, via their online behaviour.

To be honest, I’ve used Facebook advertising and I found you may get likes, but a lot of the likes, maybe over half seemed like fake accounts and as a niche small business that is not too impressive. With Google Adwords, it really clicks, it’s targeted and you get real clicks and emails. But hey, it depends on the business.

3. Twitter Advertising:
Twitter is another cool advertising platform, which I would probably prefer over Facebook. You can promote certain Tweets which allows you to highlight a particular status update to get more exposure for it. Twitter is the most powerful social media platform for tapping into real-time global conversations and trends – so it’s also an essential tool for a dynamic business. Through Twitter Ads, you can enhance your brand image and boost results and conversions.

When you use Twitter to follow, Tweet, search, view, or interact with Tweets or Twitter accounts, we may use these actions to customize Twitter Ads for you. For example, if you search for a specific term, we may show you promoted content related to that topic. We also might customize ads using other information about you, such as your profile information; your mobile device location (if location features are turned on); your IP address; or the apps installed on your device. This helps us show you local ads and other ads that you might prefer.

Twitter may also personalize ads based on information that Twitter and our affiliates collect and that our ad partners share with us, such as a hashed email address, a mobile device identifier, or browser-related information (a browser cookie ID).

Promoted Tweets allows you to target a large audience of people that you think will be interested in your business. It helps your tweet appear in front of more users and attract them to your page. This helps you reach people you couldn’t normally reach organically.

Promoted tweets operate on an auction system where you place bids. Your business is charged based on engagements on your advertised tweet. These engagements include clicks, replies, retweets, and favorites. If someone takes one of these actions, it costs your business money.

4. Linkedin Advertising:
LinkedIn advertising can help your business reach a more professional audience. Not only are LinkedIn members influential and mostly work in the professional classes, they also have two times the buying power of the average internet customer.

When using LinkedIn  for online advertising, there are two kinds of ads that you can display to help your digital marketing – Sponsored Content Ads and Text Ads. Sponsored Content Ads relate to content that you can sponsor, so that it appears in the News Feeds of your target audience.  

What really helps set LinkedIn ads apart from other social media advertising platforms such as Facebook, is their B2B targeting options. B2B marketers flock to LinkedIn because that’s where “all of the professionals” are. Also keep in mind that with LinkedIn advertising the cost is going to be a lot greater than Facebook or even Twitter, so make sure you’ve got the cash to play before you sit down at the table.

Irish online ad revenues are to fall by as much as 20% this year, undoing growth of 17% recorded in 2019, as pandemic disruptions prompted a closure of so many businesses and hence online advertising. Personally I think this figure is dependent on which business was closed, so for example pubs and hotels would have cut all advertising, however some restaurants may have increased advertising, advertising home delivery options.

Separate estimates from marketing group Core suggest Google and Facebook collected about 81% of online ad revenues in Ireland in 2019, giving the two tech giants a 40% share of total Irish advertising spend.   Even though online advertising has contracted 10-20% during the pandemic, it is faring a whole lot better than print, TV, radio and cinema advertising.

In conclusion, try a small budget on each of the platforms I mentioned above and see how you get on and what the results are.