Boosting Business With Online Ads
Getting the word out about the products and services offered by a business is a major key to eventual success of the business.
Not too many years ago, the primary means for doing this were the print media, such as newspapers and magazines, and the broadcast media - radio and television. With the advent of the Internet a lot has changed in the pace and breadth of advertising and the implications for business.
Given the ease and popularity of search engine technology, customers can search for information about virtually any products and services instantly. Internet search advertising is probably the fastest-growing advertising outlet for businesses of all sizes.
Small businesses who want added visibility often invest in small, text-only ads that appear atop or alongside the search engine results. Such ads are ideal for them, since they offer tremendous flexibility to control costs and can be tailored to specific search keywords such as geographic area or a specific product/service.
Internet ads also allow small business owners to test various marketing approaches almost instantly. For example, florists can quickly change from prom to wedding season or an air conditioning service can exploit an early heat wave.
What's more, results from these types of ads can be tracked and return on investment measured in tremendous detail never available with traditional print types of advertising.
A business that uses a website to sell or market products and services knows that online marketing will be critical to its success. Targeted ads attached to keyword search results are the clear winner among Web-based marketing methods. Their simplicity, low cost and popularity among small businesses have pushed flashy banners aside as the main method for connecting buyers and merchants online.
Best of all, Internet advertising is relatively simple to implement. In the two most popular search ad outlets - Google AdWords (www.google.com/ads) and Yahoo! Search Marketing (http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com), the business bids on the keywords or phrases for their campaigns. The higher the bid, the higher the ad will be listed in the paid results.
A charge occurs only when someone clicks the ad and visits the site. A prospect that reads a brief ad but doesn't click it costs the business nothing.
Both Google and Yahoo have built-in tools to help a small business monitor and track the effectiveness of its Internet ad campaign. One important statistic is the "click-through rate" - how often the ad is clicked in proportion to how often it appears.
Ads with high rates are obviously good. Low-rated ads should probably be modified or deleted to maximize cost-effectiveness. In addition, Google also offers free "Google Analytics" that can help analyze your Web site statistics.
To learn more about marketing your small business on the Web, contact SCORE, America's free and confidential source of small business mentoring and coaching. SCORE is a nationwide nonprofit association of experienced business people who provide free, confidential business counseling to small business owners.
The Sandhills Chapter of SCORE is active in counseling, mentoring and presenting free business seminars. If you wish to speak to SCORE about your business, please register as a client by entering your information at www.edmisscore.org/0364 and one of our counselors will contact you.
In addition to counseling by appointment, the Sandhills chapter of SCORE has drop-in service, for those who have registered, from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Fridays at the Moore County Chamber of Commerce building on U.S. 15-501 in Southern Pines. The phone number is (910) 692-3926.
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