Digital Ads for Small Businesses — Here’s What You Need to Know

Published April 30, 2021

Almost all big-name brands are on social media these days. You can see their activity on every platform and in every form of media from news and traditional commercials all the way to sassy tweets and TikTok trends. You might think, “Well, yes, they are so big and have the money for it,” but what about your local or smaller business? Are there options other than billboards or are they even worth it?

What can ads do for you?

Five years ago, you could post three times a week on social media and your posts would naturally reach a large sum of people because the algorithm would reward you for consistent posting and engagement. However, over the last few years, that organic reach has decreased each year as competition keeps growing with more brands creating a social presence and with algorithms shifting based on favoring certain content types, posting natively versus externally, and frequency. If in the past you were constantly on your follower’s feeds, today you have to earn that spot. This is why paid strategies are crucial these days for reaching new audiences.

Do you need a lot of money to incorporate ads for your business?

The good news is: it’s a paid service and therefore you will see some results. The extent of the results will, indeed, be influenced by the money you put in it, but there’s another factor that can help you save some dollars — consistency!

It can be tempting to put a lot of money down to reach just about everyone, but that’s not something you should be focusing on. You can reach everybody around you, but not everyone will be interested and turn into a paying client. In order to make your ads worth the money, you will need to narrow down who it is you’re trying to reach and then budget accordingly. It’s better to reach fewer people (and spend less on your ads) as long as you’re reaching the right people who will bring their business in. This way your ad budget turns from being an extra cost to an investment that ends up bringing in more money.

As an example, you could either do 10 ads over two months with a $2,000 budget (that’s $200 per ad) or spend the whole sum for a short-term ad. We believe the first option is better because you can monitor how your idea is performing and play with it over those two months to keep improving. By spending a lot on a single short-term ad, you’re taking a gamble on how effective it will be and lose your momentum fast. Making a long-term plan will give you more options and enable you to get further for the same budget.

Moreover, different ad types are also evaluated by algorithms, which will determine which people will see your ads and how many times it will be shown to the same people. For example, Facebook compares their user data and previous interests with what your ad offers to determine whether they are a good fit for your ad goal. That is why consistency is key. With a consistent budget, you will be able to generate more ads with different messages and goals. Some might aim to show people who you are and what you do with a goal to earn awareness and engagement from the community. Other ads might feature specific services, products, or events you’re selling. Having a consistent budget helps you keep a variety in your ads, earn favor from the algorithm, and reach different people.

How to set my ads up for success?

As said earlier, it all starts with consistency. Just boosting a post every now or then won’t suffice. In order for your ads to be successful, you need to set specific goals for ads. Remember, almost every social media site has easy-to-follow options for setting up ads on their platform, but some might require you to register your account as a business account. Since this is a long-term effort, you can keep tweaking them as you go, but here are some ideas to consider experimenting with.

  • Awareness: these types of ads should focus on letting people know who you are and what you do. You could measure success through new followers and website visits.
  • Special offers: incentives give people a straightforward reason to come to your (online) store. Measuring points can be sales resulting from the special offer. Remember to include either a coupon or a special word at checkout to make it easier for you to track the effectiveness of your promotion.
  • Boosted blog/article content: can help you establish yourself as a thought leader in the overarching subject you’re involved with. People might come to read your thoughts on a specific topic and then explore the rest of your site. Some ways to measure could be looking at how long people stayed on your site, what they did there, and how many of them returned later on.
  • Google Ads: reach people when they are searching for thoughts you have answers to. Google ads essentially pool together all the possible ads and rates them on their relevance for each incoming search along with location, target audience, and budget, and will show the “winners” in the search results. Google Ads is also a great place to advertise your YouTube videos! The ad will make your video show up at the top of relevant search results or you can place your ads directly into ad spots on others’ videos. Now, they can seem a little more confusing, but there are plenty of online courses and materials that can help you get more comfortable.

The key is to really have a purpose behind each ad, a goal you want it to reach, and a way to measure the results. These three things will make it easier for you to see whether your plan is working, what you might want to change, and to seek out new ideas going forward. Many small business leaders take charge of their paid strategies, but should it ever become too time-consuming, you have many different options for expanding your team. If that’s your case, take a look at our blog post on how to choose between different marketing team solutions from freelancers to agencies.

Today, 73% of small businesses use social media marketing according to Small Business Trends. Moreover, 93% of marketers use Facebook for their ads. Facebook ads contribute 80.4% of social referrals to ECommerce sites with the average cost per click being $1.72. We hope these statistics encourage you that the success of digital ads don’t require you to be a huge company or spend a lot. Your business can join others in advancing their business through digital advertisement.

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