Many of my clients are interested in testing and implementing online advertising campaigns.  There are many options available including the three I’ll review here as well as Yelp and the new Amazon Services and plenty of others.  I am focusing on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn as they are easy to set up yourself and don’t require a big financial or time commitment to get started (and to test).

Google is the biggie in the world of online advertising of course.  And for good reason.   If someone is searching on your category they are likely to be closer to making a buying decision.  There is, however, often a lot of competition for popular keywords and the pricing can get steep.  This is the time to think about both the ‘compare’ keywords (how you’re similar) but also the ‘contrast’ keywords (how you’re different).  You may have also heard of the latter in the context of the long tail.  The less popular, but still economically viable, search terms that can bring in a lot of well-qualified prospects for a small business.

For example, last week I worked with a wellness practitioner who had Google Adwords set up but was only using the big category words (personal fitness, for example).    Those are pricey ($10 and up per click).  But, if you add in less frequently searched terms- sports injury or repetitive stress injury- the costs come down and the fit is actually better.   I’ve worked with other clients in similar ways to get better results at a lower cost!

The other place where target clients for consumer-focused businesses are spending time is Facebook (at least for those 30 years old and up!)  Facebook’s algorithms have changed so that it is much harder to get visibility without paying for it.  The two options are to either boost a post or to run a regular ad.  There are some restrictions regarding how much text can be on an image, but otherwise, it’s fairly easy to set up and target a specific audience by geography, sex, age, interests and behaviors.  Remember, this is really about awareness building though as the people who see your ad aren’t yet searching (as they would be when they see a Google ad).   It’s great for a low level amount of advertising expenditure with the expectation that when they are ready to purchase (and use Google to search), your organic result on Google will be more effective since they’ll know of your company already (and familiarity breeds a higher likelihood to purchase!)

If your audience is a professional one, then LinkedIn might be the better choice.   LinkedIn allows advertising based on geography and other professional characteristics like job title, industry, etc.   You can also choose between boosting a status update or running an ad (that will be shown on the right-hand column).   The minimum budgets they require during the setup are higher, but if the clicks don’t happen, you don’t have to pay so it works out to be relatively low cost also.

Which one will you try?