The Most Effective Types of Online Advertising for Small Businesses




Online advertising for small businesses is sometimes regarded as a waste of time, energy, and money. But, I think this is because many small business owners don't understand the different types of online advertising.

Some business owners still consider good old word-of-mouth and networking as the norm for lead generation.

I can't blame you for being accustomed to these ways because they work. Why change it right?

Well, when it comes to lead generation, having multiple channels is critical to ensure consistency and stability for your business.

If you only have one or two lead generation channels and one of them dries up, you are really susceptible to a downturn in busines. But, if you have 3, 4 or even 5 lead generation channels your business won't be as reliant on any one channel for success.

So, keep working on referrals and networking to generate leads, but let's take a look at why you should consider online advertising for your small business.

Why You Should Consider Online Advertising

Consumer behavior is changing.

Consumers rely heavily on the internet for information and to purchase products/services. Just look at the current retail apocalypse that is happening right now.

Some of the largest retailers in the country are struggling to stay in business.

Using online advertising to take advantage of the sheer number of prospects you can reach only makes sense. If more customers are online, that's where you need to be too.

You can reach a huge audience online.

Online advertising has empowered business owners to sell their products and services on a global scale.

It has made building brand awareness faster and easier. For example, I can reach thousands of potential customers by running a Facebook ad campaign for less than $100.

Online advertising brings reach and scale to your business that wasn't possible even 10 years ago.

It is convenient.

Online shopping is an example of how convenient the internet has become.

It's easier for me to jump onto Amazon and reorder detergent than it is to jump in the car and drive somewhere to buy it.

Advertising used to be a painful process but now it is as easy as putting your socks on. With the right plan and strategy, online advertising can become quite simple.

Online advertising is cost-effective.

Traditional advertising like TV and radio ads are expensive and the results can be difficult to measure.

Online advertising, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. With the right systems in place, it is very trackable.

You'll know whether your ads are achieving your goals and what your return on investment is.

Your competition is online.

No matter what industry you are in, odds are your competition is online. Without a total online presence, your business won't exist...

which will only lead people to your competition. Not only do you want to be considered, you want to be the clear choice for anyone looking to buy your products or services.

Online advertising is one of the necessary cogs in the wheel of your total online presence.

Today, online advertising for small businesses is more of a NEED. It's a critical part of the online marketing puzzle.

But, how should you get started? Let's take a look at the best types of online advertising for small businesses.

5 of the Best Types of Online Advertising

There are plenty of online advertising platforms to choose from depending on your business needs and the market you serve. I'm going to discuss 5 of them.

1. Google AdWords

What Is It?

Everybody uses Google that is why Google AdWords is my top pick on this list.

Google AdWords is an online advertising platform where small business owners can display an advertisement for their products and services within the Google network.

The two main types of advertising within Google are search and display ads. I am going to focus on search ads for this article because I think they are the most relevant for small businesses.

How Does It Work?

You can choose keywords that customers might type on Google and then, build an advert that will appear on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) based on those keywords.

With Google AdWords, you can target people with very high intent...meaning they want to buy!

Here's a sample ad...

Google Ad Sample

Benefits of Google AdWords for Small Businesses

  • It's easy to measure your results.
  • It's cost-effective and you can determine how much to spend.
  • You can target people on a number of factors like location, device type and time of day.
  • You can remarket to people who have already expressed an interest in your business by visiting your website.
  • It's quick. Once your ad is live your business is showing up on page one of a google search!

Click the image to the right to get started with Google Adwords.

Google AdWords Image

2. Facebook Advertising

What Is It?

Facebook Advertising is paid advertising within the Facebook platform which includes Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.

Today, there are over 2 billion Facebook users worldwide which enables small business owners to reach all kinds of people.

How Does It Work?

Facebook Ads can appear in a number of locations like the news feed on desktops and mobile devices, or the sidebar.

Keep in mind, the intent of most Facebook users is quite low. You don't log in to social media because you want to buy something.

For this reason, most Facebook ads you see are geared towards offering something of value to the user like a free trial, ebook, video, etc.

The business is basically paying to get people to opt in so they can continue to build a relationship with them via email and other channels.

Sample Facebook Ad...

Facebook Ad Sample

Benefits of Facebook Advertising for Small Businesses

  • Cost-effective.
  • Amazing targeting capability. You can really drill down to a very specific type of person.
  • Very measurable results.

Click the image to the right to get started with Facebook Advertising.

Facebook Image

3. Twitter Advertising

What Is It?

Twitter Advertising targets users within the Twitter network.

Today, there are over 330 million monthly active Twitter users worldwide that allow small business owners to market their products and services on a bigger scale.

How Does It Work?

Twitter Ads are divided into 3 main categories:

Promoted Tweets are regular Tweets a business pays to promote to users that are not already following them.

Promoted Accounts is a way to promote your entire account to a group of potential followers.

Promoted Trends allows you to promote a specific hashtag. They appear at the top of the Trending Topics list and are marked as “Promoted.”

Sample Twitter Ad...

Sample Twitter Ad

Benefits of Twitter Advertising for Small Businesses

  • You only pay for performance.
  • Awesome targeting by keyword and tailored audiences.
  • Cost-effective.

Click the image to the right to get started with Twitter Advertising.

Twitter Logo

4. LinkedIn Advertising

What Is It?

LinkedIn Advertising targets users within the Linkedin network.

Today, there are over 530 million professionals using LinkedIn worldwide. This gives small business owners a chance to market their products and services to people of different professional backgrounds.

If you are serving businesses (instead of consumers) Linkedin may be a great advertising platform for you.

How Does It Work?

LinkedIn Advertising has 5 main features:

Sponsored Content is an update that appears on the LinkedIn homepage feed of members who fit the targeting criteria set up by promoters. It includes page updates that are promoted by a company, brand or another organization through the Campaign Manager.

LinkedIn Sponsored Content Sample

Sponsored Content Sample

Sponsored InMail is a type of LinkedIn engagement that delivers personalized and private messages directly to a members inbox. They contain custom greetings, call-to-action buttons, body text, and links to landing pages.

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail Sample

Sponsored InMail Sample

Text Ads appear almost everywhere on LinkedIn. This campaign is very easy to create and it targets LinkedIn desktop users.

LinkedIn Text Ad Sample

Linkedin Text Ad Sample

Dynamic Ads promote engagement by placing calls-to-action and images to a LinkedIn profile. It's a personalized ad campaign that increases engagement within the LinkedIn community.

LinkedIn Dynamic Ad Sample

LinkedIn Dynamic Ad Sample

Programmatic Display Ads allow businesses to showcase ads to a sea of professionals from every industry. Small business owners can use LinkedIn's exclusive professional targeting or their own first- or third-party data to programmatically reach audiences.

LinkedIn Programmatic Display Ad Sample

LinkedIn Programmatic Display Ad Sample

Benefits of LinkedIn Advertising for Small Businesses

  • Amazing targeting to reach the right professionals for your business.
  • Mix and match advertising features to your liking.
  • Personalize advertising tactics and content to a users LinkedIn inbox.

Click the image to the right to get started with LinkedIn Advertising.

LinkedIn image

5. Pinterest Advertising

What Is It?

Pinterest Advertising allows you to advertise to users within the Pinterest network.

There are more than 70 million active Pinterest users today. This number allows small businesses to reach users who are looking for creative content.

How Does It Work?

Ads on Pinterest are called Promoted Pins. These are regular Pins that you can promote to more people for exposure.

Like other types of online advertising, Pinterest ads come with a price. Target specific areas, demographics, and devices all you want and reach customers depending on their interests. This online advertising for small businesses promotes awareness, engagement, and traffic.

Sample Pinterest Ad...

Pinterest Ad Sample

Benefits of Pinterest Advertising for Small Businesses

  • Extremely visual form of advertising.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Not as popular (yet) as other social networks which means less competition.

Click the image to the right to get started with Pinterest Advertising.

Pinterest Logo

So those are the most effective types of online advertising for small businesses that you might want to consider for your business.

Many small businesses struggle with online advertising because the platforms are constantly changing. What worked yesterday may not work today.

So, start slow and learn the ropes when jumping into online advertising. Here are some great ways to improve your pay per click advertising results.

If you don't have the time or inclination to manage your online advertising, hire an online advertising expert to manage it for you.

Did I miss any types of online advertising you are seeing great results with? Feel free to comment below or share.

Need more lead generation tips? Check out our entire Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation.

Are you looking for more solid local marketing tips and tricks? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing.


Have you tried one marketing tactic after another, and nothing seems to work?

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About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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