The Internet has opened up a whole new world of advertising and marketing for home-based businesses. Instead of having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on expensive print campaigns or mailings, you can now reach a global audience on a shoestring budget. Here are some of the popular and cost-effective ways that you can advertise your home-based business on the Internet.
Internet advertising can be broken down into three main categories:
1. Cost-per-click, where you only pay for actual clicks or leads for your advertising.
2. Cost-per-impression, often referred to as cost-per-thousand impressions or CPM, where you purchase a set amount of views for your ad.
3. Set-price advertising, where you can purchase a specific amount of advertising for a given length of time.
Cost-per-click advertising offers small business owners great value for their advertising dollar. There are several sites that offer the ability to pay only when customers click on your ads.
Google AdWords is one of the most popular advertising venues for small businesses. With the AdWords program, you bid on keywords related to your business, and your text ad is displayed when Google users search for that term. You pay only when a user clicks on your ad, and the cost per click varies according to the popularity of the keywords you select. Google AdWords does not require a minimum purchase, and you can easily spend less than $25 for a successful advertising campaign by using AdWords properly.
Overture is another leading provider of cost-per-click advertising. Overture, which is owned by Yahoo, displays ads on a network of major search engines and portals, including MSN, CNN.com, and, of course, Yahoo.
Cost-per-impression advertising is waning in popularity, but it can still be an effective way to promote your business. These ads are usually in the form of banners or buttons, and are sold by cost-per-thousand impressions, or displays of your ad. This means that if you purchase 5,000 impressions, your ad will display 5,000 times. There are no click guarantees, which makes this type of advertising less popular than pay-per-click advertising options. Most cost-per-impression ad campaigns have fairly steep minimum buys, which also makes them less attractive to home-based-business owners.
Set-price advertising includes running ads in newsletters, text ads, “premier listings” in directories, and many other types of advertising. This can be compared to advertising in your local newspaper. You may be charged per line of text, or a set amount determined by the publisher of your ad. Newsletter publishing is a great way to reach a targeted audience relatively cheaply. (Newsletter advertising may also be sold on a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression basis.)
Getting click-throughs is one thing, but give serious thought to your ad’s landing page — the page your customers will see when they click your ad. Simply dumping users on your home page isn’t enough. Do everything you can to help users find what they are looking for quickly. If they can’t find what they are after, they will leave the site, and your advertising expense will be wasted.
An ad campaign will often feature more than one of the approaches above, and sometimes will utilize all three kinds of advertising. If your advertising budget allows it, try several different kinds of advertising, and see which performs best. No matter what advertising you employ, insist on performance data. Without that information, you will never know which forms of advertising are effective and which are not.
To get started on SEM, as it’s called when you buy keywords on search engines such as Google AdWords, see the step-by-step AllBusiness guide to Search Engine Marketing, which explains it in more detail and tells you exactly what to do to get started on your first SEM campaign.
For more information on establishing an online presence, check out the AllBusiness.com Internet & E-Business Center.