According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council’s The Digital Boost to Startups and Small Businesses: Online Advertising Delivers BIG Benefits, online advertising is a game changer for small businesses. In this holiday season, and throughout the year, consider the benefits you can reap from using online advertising as well as the ways to optimize your budget and your efforts in online advertising.
Benefits of online advertising
For some businesses, traditional media venues for advertising, such as print and radio, remain helpful. But for the vast majority of small businesses, and especially startups, online advertising is extremely useful because of the benefits it offers:
- Time and labor savings. The SBE Council’s report found that online advertising saves on average 10.93 employee hours per week. When the hours saved by owners are added to this, it is estimated to save $3.1 billion each week, or $162.8 billion annually (which boils down to thousands of dollars per business).
- Reinvestment of savings. The time and labor saved from online advertising can be used for other business activities: investment in new business opportunities (e.g., expansion), buy new equipment, hire new employees, and/or expand their benefits offering to their staff.
- Effectiveness. Online advertising works! It’s especially helpful in finding new customers, targeting customers, and competing with larger businesses. Nearly one in five online advertisers reported a median increase in revenue of more than 20% from online advertising.
Ideas to maximize online advertising efforts
When you use online advertising, including social media to market your products or services, consider ways to get the biggest bang for your buck. Here are some ideas and resources to help you:
- Set your marketing budget. Before you can make any move, determine how much you can afford to spend each month on marketing. Then decide what portion of this amount to use for online advertising. To give you some idea about what this might be, the SBE Council’s report found that nearly one-third of small businesses spend $500 or more on digital advertising each month. Be sure to factor your marketing into your 2020 budget.
- Pick the right venue(s). The SBE Council’s report found that small businesses (revenues of less than $100,000) were more likely to use Facebook for online advertising, but this isn’t your only option. Google Ads and Bing Ads are other popular channels for online advertising. And there’s also Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more. Depending on your budget, you can use one or more channels for your online advertising.
- Use the right kind of ads. Where are you most likely to reach your target audience or existing customers? Pay-per-click ads on search engines may be suitable for one type of business, while posts on social media may be better for others. For example, if you want to advertise on YouTube, keep it short (e.g., “bumper ads” are 6 seconds long).
- Get help. If you’re unfamiliar with the particulars of online advertising, consider using a pro. This allows you to devote your time to other matters while ensuring that your online efforts are optimized.
- Explore helpful resources. Here are some of my favorite sites for learning more about online advertising:
The SBE Council’s report found that “online advertising plays a key role in the development and continued growth of small businesses.” Take steps now to make online advertising work for you.
*Note: Barbara Weltman is on the Advisory Board of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. This article was prepared in partnership with this advocacy organization.