As a small business owner, you’re managing operations, customer service, account management, and not to mention everything regarding sales and marketing.  

Are you sure you’re not a superhero? 

Small business owners are doing it all. Even with the assistance of an in-house advisor or an outsourced marketing team, it’s still ultimately your responsibility to know what’s going on and why, especially when it comes to your paid advertising.

A strategy like paid advertising can be overwhelming, confusing, and challenging to manage — particularly if it’s not your area of expertise. This quick guide to paid advertising includes the essentials you need to know to ensure you’re not wasting your time or money.

Why You Should Consider Paid Ads

At face value, it might seem like you can opt-out of paid ads entirely. After all, you can obtain massive reach with organic content marketing and SEO. With all the free SEO tools out there and cost-efficient content creation, these efforts aren’t going to empty your pockets. 

But paid ads have a lot to offer, too, and most marketers are already on board. In fact, 80 percent of marketers are making room in their budgets for various paid advertisements. 

There’s good reason for this. For starters, paid ads are great for brand awareness, and the traffic that they bring your way is more likely to lead to conversions than those from organic advertising.

Then there’s the fact that while content and SEO marketing have huge potential, it’s also hugely competitive. The internet is packed with businesses of all sizes that are striving to rank for the same keywords. To get to the top of the pack, you’re almost always going to need existing domain authority — a fact that overwhelmingly favors big companies who have already had a long time to establish their digital presence.

When it comes to small business ads, it’s never a one-or-the-other type of thing. Your strategy should include both organic and paid advertising, with complementary campaigns that help you find your audience online (and help them find you in return).

To put your best foot forward with paid advertising, let’s take a look at the types of paid ads and explain how they’re used. 

The 5 Most Common Types of Paid Ads

Most paid ads are designed as PPC ads, meaning that instead of paying outright for ad placement, you pay a set fee every time someone interacts with your ad — about $1 to $2 per click.

Within this designation, there are various types of paid ads that you can employ. Here are some of the most common:

  • Search ads – These ads appear at the top of a search results page, above the organic rankings. They look pretty similar to standard search results but have a small box that says “Ad” next to the URL.
  • Social media ads – These advertisements appear on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. These generally appear right in users’ feeds and are noted as being sponsored posts. They are also highly targeted based on pages and brands users prefer, like, and follow. 
  • Display ads – These are banner ads that appear on websites that display ads to visitors and usually include a photo, brief text, and a link.
  • Google shopping ads – If you own an eCommerce small business, you may benefit from eCommerce platforms like Google shopping ads. These appear in a carousel on the results page when people search for a certain item. They include basic details like an image, price, and website link. 
  • Retargeted ads – These are ads specifically placed in front of users who have previously checked out your website but did not convert. They can be any format, such as display ads, search ads or social ads.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and you’ve probably seen all of these ads before during your own internet perusing and searching. But, this should give you a good idea of the various types of PPC ads that are available and how you can use them to target specific subsets of your target audience.

Tips for Paid Advertising Success

Running a small business means that you don’t have an unlimited marketing budget to throw at paid ads. Instead, you need to be smart with how and where you allocate your funds, and we’ve got some tips on how to do that.

Tip #1: Filter Your Audience

You obviously want as many people as possible to see your ads, but what’s even more important is making sure the right people see them. Focus on members of your core audience when putting together your paid ads.

Luckily, you can use filters to narrow down who your ads target. Use your buyer personas and get as specific as you can in terms of audience demographics, geographical location, interests, needs, etc. Use more granular keywords and avoid broad terms to get the most out of your budget.

Also be sure to tailor the content of your ads – from design to copy – to your audience. This ensures that the right type of buyer clicks on your ad instead of wasting spend on buyers who are not the right fit. 

Tip #2: Don’t Try to Be Everywhere

In a similar vein, you also need to be strategic with where your ads appear. For instance, if you’re mainly targeting older Millennials, your social media ad dollars are probably better spent on sites like Instagram and Pinterest versus platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, which cater to a younger audience.

You can survey your customers to see what social platforms they like the most. Get creative on social media by creating Instagram or Twitter polls, or send out a yearly survey to your subscribers that asks them various questions, including which channels they’re most active on. 

Tip #3: Track Your KPIs

This one is crucial. The only way to know what’s working and what’s not is to dig into the data. PPC hosts like Google and social media platforms make it easy to track your key metrics, and you should keep a close eye on performance. Make tweaks here and there to make sure your budget is being spent wisely.

If you have to pull ads entirely, that’s fine. The last thing you want to be doing is throwing more and more money at a strategy that isn’t giving you anything in return. You’re also not going to hit a home run on your first try. Give your social ads some time to perform before you make any significant adjustments. 

Final Thoughts

While organic marketing and SEO will reach a wide audience, you’re not likely to always reach your ideal target customer this way. Remember, you’re competing against every big business within your industry out there. Opting for paid ads in conjunction with those efforts will strengthen your position in the market, increase awareness for your brand and put your company in front of the right customers.