9 Tips for Small Businesses Starting Online Ad Campaigns

Tips for Small Businesses Starting Online Ad Campaigns

You’ve decided to create an online shop and you’re ready to spread the word and get people to visit your site. By now, you’ve probably already realized that advertising online is the way to get traffic to your shop, but how should you get started if you’re entirely new to the game? Here are 9 tips for beginners.

#1 Know your goals

Before you do anything, you need to figure out what you want to achieve with this campaign. Do you want to build up brand awareness or do you want to make conversions?

This affects the pricing of your ads as some pricing structures are based around impressions (how many people will see your ad) while other pricing structures are based on engagements (how the viewer interacts with your ads).

Depending on the medium you use, these “engagements” can be defined differently. For example, they can be defined by clicks, follower acquisitions, video views, app installs, lead generation, or conversions.

#2 Picking a platform

Once you’ve decided on what you want to achieve, that will make choosing a medium to run your campaign a lot easier. Google or Facebook? Or Instagram?

There’s an expression used in digital marketing circles that says “Use Google ads to let your customers find you. Use Facebook ads to find your customers.” This makes sense as the visual elements of Facebook ads fits brand awareness campaigns, but even more helpful is Facebook’s ability to help you laser-focus on your target audience based on demographics and interests.

eMarketer recently surveyed digital marketers to see which social media outlets provide the best ROI. Lo and behold, Facebook is by far the winner here.

However, that’s not to say the other platforms can’t be helpful to you. Twitter, for example, has the benefit of being the trendy platform. Anything that is a hot topic can be used on Twitter to reach out to your audience.

This can really show the human side of your company and allows your business to have a little fun with shoppers. Instagram can be a great marketing tool for lifestyle brands as strong imagery is the main focus here.

socila media platforms that produce best ROI

Source: eMarketer.com

#3 Test what works before (and after) you pay

There’s a good chance that you already have a presence on social media before you start paying for ads. If you don’t, start by creating a company page or profile, create some free posts, and start collecting followers. By seeing which posts generate the most reactions (by clicks, likes, or shares) you can gauge what kind of ads you should be creating.

Once you’re actually ready to create paid ads, it would be a good idea to test variations of the same ads to see what works best. This is often referred to as A/B testing. For example, let’s say you have a blog post that you want to promote on Facebook to generate traffic to your site. It would be a good idea to test this ad with two (very) different images to see what works. You might be as surprised as I was (or not)!

lazy man watching a sports game on a tablet

Source: Shutterstock/Burdun Iliya

The photo of this shirtless doppelgänger performed much, much better than the photo of the real me below... and my face says it all, doesn't it?

Alon in blog

Disappointment. Surprise... Still felt cute though.

#4 Target, target, target

This can’t be stressed enough. People are spending almost as much time on social media as they do watching TV and things are likely to keep trending in this direction.

However, social media advertising has an advantage in that they can focus in on your target audience much more accurately than TV advertising can. This should be used to its maximum ability, especially for small businesses.

Facebook and pals want to make money on ads and they want you to pay as much as possible. The more general you are in your targeting, the more people you will reach. However, this also means that you are probably paying for really generic words that are highly competitive, very expensive, and not relevant enough.

If you’re advertising on social media, you have to figure out who you audience is to the core. Find out their interests by clicking on your follower’s profiles (or your competitors’ followers’ profiles. Figure out their demographics and then create a persona of your target audience based on that information. After all, it’s better to reach 1,000 highly targeted people than 100,000 people who don’t really fit your customer profile.

#5 Rotate your ads



You’ve tested what ads work best and figured out what your customer profile looks like. You’re well on your way now. It’s important, however, to know when to move on. We’re all bombarded with digital ads every single day. That’s why even the best ads go stale eventually.

Many experts recommend changing your ads about every 2 weeks. See what works for you by analysing your metrics and pay attention to when your ads stop being effective. Once your costs per acquisition or costs per sale start increasing, then it’s probably time to change things up a bit.

#6 Design for mobile

If you’ve been on a train, bus or … anywhere in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed how much time people spend on their mobiles. Social media is definitely part of this trend.

Statistics show that about 80% of time on social media is spent on mobile devices. According to Statista, 69% of UK online shoppers have used mobile devices to make an online purchase. That is much higher than any other device (the next closest was laptops with 43%).

That means that your website should have a mobile responsive design, but your ads should look good on mobile as well. That means, short texts, clean images and a straight forward call-to-action.

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#7 Analyse, analyse, analyse

The beauty of advertising online is that you have a wealth of data available for you to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. Most advertisers don’t get it right on the first try, so make sure you start off with small budgets and see what works. You might have tweak something like your texts, your images, or your targeting options. Take advantage of the analytics that Google, Facebook and friends offer their clients.

person stacking pices of wood

Source: Shutterstock/garagestock

#8 Know when to advertise

We already talked a bit about knowing when to rotate your ads. However, this advice is more about the big picture. Knowing your businesses high-seasons is essential to budgeting your ad spend correctly. You should, therefore, not spend the same amount of money every month, but figure out when your important sales periods are and adjust your ad budget accordingly.

#9 Be patient

This last tip might be easier said than done. It can be very exciting posting ads up on social media. Hopefully, after reading this blog, you’ll be tempted to optimise your ads to perform at their best.

However, be careful not to overdo this, and let some data roll in before you make any drastic changes to your campaigns.

Many of these platforms show your ads and need time for their algorithms to learn where your ads are performing best. Assessing the success of a campaign after two days is hardly ever accurate, so give it about a week before making any big changes.

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Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg has been the Content Manager UK at Trusted Shops since 2017. He graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's degree in Communications in 2004.

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