We live in exciting times, at least as it relates to online advertising. Just a few years ago, the bulk of online advertising options consisted of either pay-per-click or display ads, we now have more ways than ever to connect with customers online. And with ever-evolving technology, our ads are becoming more customizable and trackable, providing even more value to business owners, especially for mobile devices. Let’s look at some of the most innovative online advertising options available to you today to market your small business.
- SMS and MMS Mobile Ads
Sending your customers special offers via text messaging is great way to advertise your brand, since average user looks at their smartphones 150 times a day. SMS refers to text messages, while MMS can include video or photos. Both provide a great way to get people to click to your website or come into your store to redeem an offer.
- Social Media Ads
If you’ve ever paid attention to the right-hand side of your Facebook page, you’ve likely seen Facebook Ads. Facebook supports multiple advertising types including, Instagram, Audience Network and Messenger. There are others social media site who are happy to sell you ads too: Twitter, and LinkedIn offer you the opportunity to target the audience who sees your ad, as well as set your own budget. Social media ads are a great option for small budgets, because you can spend as little as $5 to test them out. If they net results, you can increase your spend.
- Google Ads
Google AdWords Express is now Google’s answer to Facebook Ads. The lower cost version of Google AdWords allows small businesses to launch campaign for a modest budget. Now for “dirty jobs” businesses, Google has launched Local Services by Google, which is mobile advertising for local service providers like plumbers, electricians, carpet cleaners etc. who book jobs by appointment. You can launch campaign for as little as $5 dollars per lead. You must become pre-certified by Google to buy this service.
- Display Advertising
This type of ad is probably the one you’re most familiar with. Display ads are those banners and sidebar ads on your favorite news site. While they’re more dynamic and engaging than they were in the past, they’re not always the best way to reach an audience. In fact, 200 million internet users have installed ad blocking software so they don’t have to see those ads.
- Native Advertising
One ad option that is seeing some success right now is the native ad. This type of advertising is usually placed within your social media stream, looks and feels like a blog post or article, but it’s actually a paid ad. There might be an article sponsored by an airline in your feed that provides 10 tips for holiday travel. It’s useful in that it’s an article, but it’s clear that the airline published it, and that they’d like you to visit their website.
- Geo-Targeted Advertising
When you incorporate where a lead is into your advertising strategy — particularly if you own a local business and want to attract foot traffic — you have significant opportunity to convert. Both online ads and mobile ads can be geo-targeted, meaning you can ensure that your ad only shows up to people who are within a certain number of miles from your business. If, for example, a shopper is a few blocks from your store and gets your mobile push notification telling her that you’re offering 30% off all products for the next few hours, she’s likely to redeem that offer.
- Video Advertising
Video, too, is a great advertising channel. There are three types video ads that YouTube offers TrueView in-stream ads, which show up across the bottom of the video, Bumper ads, which are perfect for mobile ads and TrueView discovery ads, which show up in search results, Let’s say you sell makeup. You could target your ad to appear on videos of makeup application tutorials, since your audience would be most likely to watch those types of videos.
- Retargeted Ads
Have you ever looked at, for example, a purse on a website, then noted that it “followed you around” the internet, appearing in ads on various websites? This is retargeting. The hope is that if you keep seeing that purse, you will eventually decide to buy it. Retargeting is great for ecommerce business owners who want to drive sales.
- Geo-Fencing Ads
Here’s another interesting mobile ad option: while geo-targeted ads may blanket a several-mile radius around your store, geo-fencing can pinpoint a customer who is in or very near your store. You could even target customers on a particular aisle of your store to direct them to a nearby promotion with a pop-up coupon or offer.
- Chatbot Advertising
Chatbots — may be the next biggest thing in advertising. Using messaging apps like Facebook Messaging or WhatsApp, brands use artificial intelligence to anticipate what a shopper might want. Let’s say a shopper looks at a pair of boots on a website. The chatbot could pop up in a small window on the screen and recommend a pair of socks to go with the boots…at a 10% discount.
- Branded Applications
Having your own mobile app can drive brand loyalty and repeat business. You could have a mobile wallet that allows loyalty card members to ditch their plastic loyalty card and use their phone to redeem special offers. You could also use your app to send push notifications to mobile shoppers to keep them engaged and buying from you.
- QR Codes
If you’re looking for a way to bridge the gap between your customers’ offline and online behavior, QR codes fit the bill. In your store, you can have a QR code for shoppers to scan to get more information about a product, see your menu or be added to your email or text offer list, to enter a contest.
What’s coming next? With the rollout of smart home devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s Siri and its HomeKit, which launched last fall. Soon small business owners will need to add voice assistant ads to the mix too.
How will you leverage online advertising with so many amazing options?