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Where should I advertise my online business?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if your business was in the perfect location? You know, the street corner where there is so much walk by traffic that your product practically sells itself. Here’s the good news, an effective website with a strong digital ad campaign can be that busy street corner. The bad news is that the competition is fierce.

Small businesses online compete against each other but also against the mega retailers like Amazon, eBay and Wal-mart.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to reach your target audience, and surprisingly inexpensive. You just need a little know how to navigate the world of online advertising.

paid-targeted-adsKeyword advertising: Keyword advertising is one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to reach your target customer. Keyword advertising lets you target customers before the ad even displays, making it a great choice for small businesses without deep marketing budgets. Google AdWords is the most well-known form of keyword advertising.

Google displays search ads specifically targeted to the word(s) typed into a search box. These keyword targeted ads also appear on content sites based on Google’s system’s interpretation of the subject matter on each page of the site. This is known as contextual advertising. Other search engines offering keyword advertising include Yahoo! Search Marketing, Microsoft AdCenter, Looksmart, Miva (FindWhat and e-Spotting are now part of Miva), and many others. ~ Wikipedia Use tools like or Google Keyword Planner to help pick the right words for your ad. (image)

E-newsletter advertising: E-newsletter advertising is another inexpensive but effective way of reaching your audience. There are thousands of e-newsletters published every week on almost every subject imaginable. Try to find several different e-newsletters that cover topics that tie in with your products.

Tips to get started:

  1. set objectives
  2. advertise regularly: doing something once is almost as ineffective as doing nothing.
  3. Maintain consistency and frequency to build brand awareness.
  4. Build a landing page on your website for your ad to help you track conversions
  5. Track results and tweak accordingly

Sending out your own e-mail newsletters and promotions can be highly effective, but it’s not the only form of e-mail marketing. Marketers looking for a comprehensive online marketing program must also consider how advertising in other companies’ e-mail newsletters can generate brand awareness and drive traffic on their own Web sites.

It’s becoming a popular venue, and with good reason, said Julie M. Katz, an analyst at Forrester Research “Advertising in someone else’s e-newsletter is an interesting lead generation tool because it exposes b-to-b marketers to audiences who are similar to their own audience but may not be customers or prospects already. It also helps increase subscriptions to their own newsletter if they are collecting e-mail addresses,” she said. “It’s a decent strategy to take.”

E-newsletters garner the most trust out of all interactive advertising, Katz said. More than 22% of people trust an e-mail vehicle for which they have registered, compared with a mere 2% who new source of prospects and e-mail addresses for your own e-mail marketing program. ~ * Ad Age

Banner or button ads: 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.

Local Citation sitesLocal citation sites: What’s a Citation? A citation is a mention of your business name with another piece of business information, such as your phone number, address, website, or a combination of the three. Citations are thought to be important for ranking in Google’s local search results, so the more of them you have from quality sources, the better your business is likely to rank. Submitting your business to the sites on this page is likely to improve your rankings.

Looking for something specific to your industry:  Top citation sites by niche

Looking for something specific to your location? Top citation sites by location

Social media channels: Advertising on social media is a great way to build brand awareness, especially when you aren’t sure what search query your users will use.

Social media advertising helps businesses find new potential clients by using users’ own shared information to identify interest. Rather than reactively targeting users who search a certain term, social media advertising proactively targets relevant users before they even begin their search.

Social networks are a good option for advertisers because of the advanced targeting options, reliable conversion tracking, and prevalence on mobile devices. ~ (

Tips to get started:

  1. Use your existing social media channels to see what content would be best for an ad.  Look at your analytics and determine which content performs the best.
  2. Take advantage of targeting features
  3. Change the ads often (think every 3 or 4 days)
  4. Design ads for the social platform. Social networks like Facebook sell advertising based on impressions (how many people saw your ad). Twitter advertising is based on engagement (how many people clicked your ad). Do your homework on the platform and tailor your ad to get the most bang for your buck. *Note: we live in a world driven by our smart phones.  Think about users using smaller screens when doing your design work.

Fantastic article on social advertising — consider it a #101 course, by Hootsuite:

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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