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Quick guide: Digital ads for small business

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Are you looking to get extra attention for your business online – and quickly – but don’t know where to start? Here’s a guide to help you DIY your digital marketing when you don’t have enough time or budget to outsource your marketing to a digital agency.

Woman working on laptop

Compared with traditional advertising channels, lead times for digital advertisements are short. You can produce these types of ads yourself (or with a touch of help) and they can quickly make a difference.

But which ad types on what platform should you choose? And which are easy enough to get up and running quickly without specialist creative or marketing skills?

Follow our quick guide to quick digital ads that you can make yourself today. It’s no replacement for a comprehensive marketing strategy or for getting experts to handle your digital marketing, but it’s a great place to start.

Google Ads

The majority of customers use search engines to find a product or service. And which search engine is the biggest of all? It goes without saying, but we’ll say it: it’s Google.

What: Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising that allows you to boost your Google search engine results page (SERP) performance by paying for a place near the top of the pack. You’ve probably seen them: type “hot air balloon rides Melbourne” into Google and the first four results carry a green ‘Ad’ insignia. Google Ads also extend to the Google Display Ads Network, which includes ad placements on platforms like Gmail and YouTube.

Why: Google claims Ads “drive website visits”, “get more phone calls” and “increase store visits”. Google Ads might be good for your business, but you’ll need to consider things like your marketing budget (ask yourself: would it generate an adequate ROI?), keyword viability (if the number of people searching for relevant keywords is low, it might not be worth the investment) and what your competitors are doing (are they paying for Google Ads?).

How: For a small-to-medium business, Google Ads are easy to create and can be cost-effective. Get started by telling Google who you are and then selecting your advertising goals (e.g., get more website sales), defining your audience and confirming what you’re prepared to spend on ad auctions (in digital marketing, you often bid on an ad’s position).

Tip: Monitor your return on investment at regular intervals to track your Google Ads performance.

Microsoft Advertising

What: Paying for Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) puts you at the top or to the right of search results on the Microsoft Search Network, which includes Bing, Yahoo and MSN. Like Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising operates on a pay-per-click system, with keywords carefully targeted based on geography, time and demographics.

Why: While Google commands the lion’s share of global search results, Microsoft is still popular. Microsoft Advertising often has higher click-through rates (CTRs) than Google and a cheaper cost-per-click. Microsoft Advertising also reaches millions of people who may otherwise be unreached by Google Ads.

How: Microsoft Advertising lets you set advertising budgets (with no minimum fee) and gives you the option to test out keywords, bids and timings. Get started by creating an account and campaign, and then go live.

Tip: You may spend less than you would with Google Ads, but keep in mind that the response quality may be lower because Microsoft Advertising reaches less of the market.

Facebook for Business

What: Facebook for Business allows you to create a range of Facebook ads for your small business, and it gives you the ability to track and analyse their performance. Ads appear like posts across Facebook’s various platforms, including in news feeds – and if you choose, across the social platforms Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Unlike organic posts (posts without any ‘boost’ or paid support), ads appear with a ‘Sponsored’ tag. They can be targeted based on a range of criteria, including geography, age, gender and language.

Why: Facebook is Australia’s most widely used social network, with over 17 million users per each four-week period. It offers a diverse range of post and ad formats – including images and videos (with or without links, depending on whether your aim is to get traffic to your site or to foster engagement), carousels (a way to share multiple images and links in one ad) and collections, which provides you the power of e-commerce within the platform (great if you’re a retailer). Targeting can be particularly powerful, but it can require either a substantial amount of experience or expert help.

How: Starting a Facebook ad campaign is accessible but, if you want it to be effective, you’ll need insights about your target audience and optimisation know-how. You first select where, how and to whom you’d like to run the ad. You also select a budget, which could be anything from $5 to $50,000+ a week. Finally, you can track your campaign’s performance once it’s live, which will help you understand, modify and adapt your campaign as you go – an essential piece in the puzzle that is digital marketing.

Tip: While you might get your ads in front of the right people, remember that social media is a particularly visual medium. You need to make sure your ad looks good, so consider whether you have attractive creative that will fit the format. Facebook and Instagram are updated constantly, and the best results can require time and dedication, so it’s a good idea to consider outsourcing to an expert.

Don’t forget the rest…

While Google, Microsoft and Facebook are the tech giants of today, they’re not even close to the only players in the game. When you’re thinking about advertising, think about the real person at the other end and where they’re spending their time online. For example, recent data from Roy Morgan reveals that Pinterest is more popular among Australians born before 1961 than Instagram. If this is your audience, then Pinterest Ads might be a good option.

Consider hiring a specialist

Good job! With limited free time and a limited budget, following these platforms’ in-built instructions and optimisations should yield positive results. While it won’t match up against a comprehensive digital marketing strategy tailored to your small business, it’s a good place to start.

If you’d like to learn more about digital marketing or think the time is right for expert advice, Telstra Business Digital Marketing Services is here to help.

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