Online advertising is a great way for small businesses to attract customers, but if you're new to the world of online ads it can seem a daunting and this may make you sceptical as to its benefits.
In this guide, we'll look at the advantages of online advertising for small businesses and point you at some resources that will help you get started with online ads.
Advantage of online advertising 1: It works quickly
When you launch a new small business website, it can be hard to attract visitors initial. Yes there's search engine optimization, but that takes time to work.
A good online marketing campaign can directly potential customers to your website almost instantly, meaning you can start making sales from day one.
Advantage of online advertising 2: It's low cost (if done correctly)
Money is always a concern for small businesses, and so one of the biggest advantages of online advertising is that it can attract potential customers for just a few pence.
Of course, not every potential customer who visits your site via an online ad will actually buy from you, so the cost of acquiring a customer may be a few pounds (or more depending on the kind of business you're running.)
It's also important that you make sure the amount you're spend on online advertising to generate a sale doesn't wipe out your profit margin. That means understanding your return on investment from ads, and also targeting the people who are most likely to buy from you.
You can learn more about ROI in this guide.
The final thing to mention here is that you should avoid going head-to-head with big business. Big businesses have big online marketing budgets, so if you're competing with them they'll easily out-spend you. This is particularly important in Google's AdWords platform where you bid on keywords.
Advantage of online advertising 3: It can help you build a solid customer base
Online ads are a great way to drive sales, but it can also help you develop a solid customer base in other ways.
If you're running online ads, people might visit your website once and then not come back. But if you can encourage them to stay in touch with your business, you boost the chances of them returning.
The best way to do this is through email marketing. If you can encourage all your website visitors to sign up for your email marketing list, you'll be able to send them special offers that will entice them back to your site.
You can learn more about building an email list in this guide, and to get started you'll need a tool like Email Marketing from GoDaddy.
Advantage of online advertising: 4 You can do it yourself
Although it may seem complicated at first, running your own online advertising campaigns is a lot simpler than you might thing.
All the major ad platforms (Facebook, Google and Bing) offer an easy-to-use self-service interface, which means once you've grasped the basic concept behind online ads, it's more than possible to run your own highly-successful campaigns.
That said, sometimes it can be a good idea to bring in an outside agency - either because you lack the time to do things yourself, or because the agency's expertise will allow you to run more advanced campaigns.
Advantage of online advertising: 5 It can scale up as your business grows
Although it's not true to say the more you spend on online advertising, the more money you'll make, it is true that a bigger budget wisely spent can generate a bigger profit.
As your business and your marketing budget grow, you'll be able to expand the way you target your ads, and as long as you're still paying attention to ROI you should see profits increase.
Of course, there is a limit to what spending extra money will bring: If you're spending £5 to attract one customer, spending £500,000 won't necessarily bring you 100,000 customers - there's a limit to the number of people who want your product.
So make sure you're using your budget wisely, and if in doubt thinking about hiring a specialist agency.
Advantage of online advertising 6: It just works
There's a reason why giants such as Amazon spending so much on online advertising - and that reason is it just works.
Done well, online ads have the potential to be lucrative for almost any small business
Just make sure you understand what you're getting into, or hire an expert if you feel you need to.