Online advertising isn't as confusing as many small business owners think. Just like in the brick-and-mortar world, the goal is to acquire new customers as cheaply as possible. It's the same with online businesses; only the methods are different. And just like in the offline world, knowing where to place your ads will determine the success or failure of your ad campaign.
Generally, the products you sell will dictate where you should advertise. If your ad budget allows it, advertising on Web portals -- Yahoo, MSN, and the like -- is an option. But this untargeted advertising is out of the reach of most cash-strapped small businesses.
How can you maximize your advertising budget and still reach the customers who would be interested in your products?
Putting your ads in front of motivated purchasers is the best way to spend your advertising dollar. Targeting your ads to these potential buyers is easy.
Keyword advertising is the easiest and cheapest way to target your ad buys. Buying keyword advertising with Google or Overture lets you target customers before the ad even displays, making it a great option for companies without extensive advertising resources.
E-newsletter advertising is another inexpensive but effective way of reaching targeted customers. There are thousands of e-newsletters published every week on almost every subject imaginable. Try to find at least five different e-newsletters that cover topics that tie in with your products.
For example, if you sell digital camera equipment, you could look for newsletters dedicated to the art of digital photography. An ad in a newsletter of this type would be seen exclusively by digital photographers.
Banner or button ads are still an option, of course, as long as you advertise on sites that your potential customers are already visiting. Continuing our example of selling digital camera supplies, we would look for sites that offer tips and advice about digital photography and approach them to see if they are willing to sell advertising space on their site.
If you are having trouble coming up with ideas on where to advertise, try browsing through some of your favorite sites and take a minute to see who their advertisers are. See where your competitors are advertising, and look for other, similar venues that your rivals haven’t thought of yet.
No business can afford waste money on ineffective advertising. Research all your options, and target your ads whenever possible. Regardless of where you advertise, targeting your ads is the key to a good return on your ad spend.