There’s lots you can do to promote your business online without it costing anything except your time. But time is also a precious resource and you need to spend it as wisely as you do your cash, so it’s always worth considering paid advertising options too.
Here’s an overview of the main options:
Google Adwords is the one you will all have heard of – these are the adverts that appear at the top and side of the page of most Google searches. Bing has a similar option. You pay every time someone clicks on your advert – so you’ll often hear this referred to as “Pay per Click”.
Done well, it’s a great way to bring very targeted visitors to your website at a reasonable cost.
Done badly, and you can spend a lot of money very quickly.
Most people start off because they have a voucher for £50 or so of free advertising. Although it’s a great way to test it out, be wary of just jumping straight in and having a dabble with Adwords. Google uses quality scores to set your click price and if you mess it up at the start it will harm your score. Either do your homework before you start or get professional help to set up your campaign.
A quick word about Adwords Express – this is a very simplified version of Adwords aimed at businesses operating within a local area. The big selling point of this is it takes away the learning curve – you don’t need to worry about keywords and advert copy, Google does it for you. But Google doesn’t understand your business like you do and it can end up being very badly targeted and a waste of money.
If Facebook is part of your marketing, then it’s worth considering Facebook advertising. It’s particularly useful for growing your fan base or for promoting specific offers or events.
There are a number of different ways you can pay to promote your business on Facebook. There are the adverts you see on the right side of your newsfeed – which is where most small businesses start – but you can also pay to promote your posts and ensure more people get to see them. Expect to see more options in the future as Facebook continue to find new ways to generate revenue.
The big benefit is the highly detailed targeting so you can be very specific about who sees your ads: location, age, gender, relationship status, interests.
Website and Blog Advertising
You can advertise directly with websites that cater for your target audience – there’s a wide range of wedding sites (often run by wedding magazines) and, of course, all the wedding blogs. With sites run by publications, you will often get online advertising packaged with your print advert.
Blogs often refer to their advertisers as Sponsors and most have a range of options from small sidebar adverts to full business feature articles.
For blogs, you’ll need to spend time doing your homework to find those which will reach your target audience (especially if you operate in a limited geographic area). And do check exactly what you get for your money. There’s more on blog sponsorship here.
You don’t have to restrict yourself to straightforward advertisements. Think about sponsoring a competition/giveaway or an article in a popular email newsletter.
Measure your results
Most importantly, make sure you can measure the return on your investment in advertising. With online advertising it’s easy to measure the visitors each campaign sends to your website. But you also need a way to monitor how many of those visitors turn into paying customers.