ppc advertising

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business still focused on traditional advertising like print ads, direct mail and radio? That’s great if that’s where your customers are, but if you’re like most small businesses, your customers are increasingly going online—which means your marketing dollars should be going to online advertising, too.

A recent study by Borrell Associates reports the balance of small business marketing spending still goes to traditional channels. For example, 22 percent of small and midsized (SMB) businesses’ marketing budget currently goes to newspaper advertising, while just 19 percent goes to online advertising. But Borrell is predicting that by mid-2014, SMBs will be spending more on online advertising than on print.

Here’s some of what the study found, MediaPost– reports:

  • Facebook is driving the shift to online advertising. A whopping 83 percent of small businesses already use Facebook, Borrell found, and the number is projected to increase. That’s a significant climb from 64 percent who used Facebook just two years ago.
  • Small business owners are still relying on Google as a marketing tool, but while Google has become more of a staple in the marketing budget, Facebook’s share of budget is still growing. A Borrell survey earlier this year found 53 percent of small businesses were advertising on Facebook.
  • What’s not growing? The use of daily deal sites. Borrell found that 77 percent of small businesses never use these marketing tools. Even among the small percentage that do, fewer than half say they are satisfied with the results.

How do your marketing plans measure up compared to the small businesses in Borrell’s survey? What should you do to keep pace with your competitors?

Investigate online advertising. If you haven’t already tested the waters, now is the time to try online advertising. As the survey shows, online pay-per-click advertising like Google AdWords is something many small businesses can’t do without. If you haven’t used these tools before, the good news is Google offers tons of tips and advice to make it easy. Plus, you can completely control your ad budget so you don’t end up spending too much. Cover your bases by using Yahoo! Bing Ads too so you can catch customers who don’t search on Google.

If your business is active on Facebook, Facebook ads are another affordable way to expose your business to new prospects. Facebook allows you to target prospects extremely narrowly–by region, demographics and many other factors, so that you can pay only for ads that are seen by people likely to become customers. You can develop ads based on specific goals, such as driving clicks to your website, getting more likes or creating website conversions. Finally, you can set a very specific budget to ensure you won’t go over your limit.

The best news about online advertising is it’s easy to measure results and see if your ads are actually driving traffic to your website, increasing your “likes” or otherwise getting results. Use the free analytics tools that online advertising sites provide to review your results and tweak your ad campaigns as needed.