Online Advertising for SMEs

MM20147 Online advertising for SMes 630x362 11 2016 copy5

/ posted in Business, Digital, Marketing & PR, Social Media, Strategy / 0 Comments

MM20152 Guest Blogger_Paul_ALLEN

It’s likely that, like most small businesses, you’ll be managing your own online advertising to keep costs down, rather than engaging a specialist agency to manage your campaigns, so understanding the basics before you get started is really important.

It’s a good idea to get your strategy worked out before you put money behind any kind of advertising – here are some pointers to help with that.

Be clear about what you want from digital adverts – what are you trying to get?

  • Leads
  • Online conversion
  • Bookings
  • Visits
  • Awareness

Before you go any further you’ll need a website or other online presence to drive people to – whether that’s your own company website, Social Media page, or other online page such as an industry-specific directory or rated supplier site (Rock Pamper Scissors, MyBuilder and Good Garage scheme, to name but a few).

Measuring success

Make sure you have the means to measure performance of your campaigns before you begin. Google Analytics is a free tool that lets you track interactions on your website, there are also lots of other ways of going about this.

Start small

Starting with a smaller level of spend lets you dip your toe in and see what impact there is for your business, then scale up whatever works best. It also means you don’t splurge your whole budget in one fell swoop on something that might not work for your business.

Targeting – who are you trying to reach?

Where you choose to advertise will depend on who you want to reach – who are your customers?

By understanding where they are, and what they respond to you can target your message more precisely as follows:

  • Consumer/Business
  • Location
  • Age bracket
  • Gender
  • Behaviour

You may find that there are several online places that stand out as areas that your customers spend time in – particular Social Media sites, review sites, or online magazines or newspapers, for example.

What type of advertising should I choose?

There is a vast array of choice when it comes to digital advertising, and what you choose to include in your campaign will depend on your budget and the audience (customers!) you’re trying to reach.

You’ll get better results from using a range of several different media in your advertising campaign. Unfortunately there’s no better way to find out what works for you than trial and error – That’s why it’s so important to start small. One useful thing you can do is talk to similar businesses to find out what’s worked for them – learn from their mistakes so you don’t waste money!


Online display advertising has come on leaps and bounds in the last 5 years, so rather than a static advert on a single site, an advert can be displayed via a network that means people see it on multiple sites based on their behaviour and actions online (e.g. searching, subscribing, by location, and much more).

There are lots of online display advertising networks; Google, Bing and Facebook are some of the names you’ll probably recognise.

Display activity takes 1 of 2 forms:

  • Prospecting – advertising to people who’ve had no interaction with your brand before (a new opportunity)
  • Retargeting – advertising to people who have previously interacted with your website

Display will give you access to thousands of potential new customers, but targeting is really important so that your adverts are shown to the right people.

On a larger scale, programmatic advertising, where people are shown particular adverts based on their behaviours and interests, might be an option for those with a larger budget who’ve proved the worth of display advertising.

Great for: Generating brand awareness, advertising phone numbers, long-term message (not time-limited offers)


Pay per click advertising is essentially a sponsored listing on search engine results. This should look familiar:

Google Ads - sponsored

As the name suggests, PPC is paid on a per click basis. It sometimes has a reputation of being a quick way to eat through your advertising budget, but there are two ways you can control and manage your spend:

Fixed budget (daily)

Capped amount until it runs out

Great for: Direct response – where you want a customer to act immediately, targeting local customers, promoting specific products/services, but also for brand awareness

Social Media 


Great for low-cost advertising, highly targetable, word-of-mouth advertising


Great for: Real-time promotions, brand awareness, online sales


Great for: Raising your profile, reaching businesses, targeting specific areas and industries, recruitment, positioning yourself as a thought leader

Most Social Media platforms offer a choice of sponsored posts within the main feed, or adverts targeted to a specified audience.


This all centres around your content. By promoting articles, blog posts, infographics or even videos on various websites that get a lot of visitors, your content gets seen by a wider audience quickly and cheaply. Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Native ad

The more people click on your content, the more efficient your campaign becomes and you get more value from it. Use it to showcase the one thing you do better than everyone else.

Great for: businesses with high quality or distinctive content (video, interactive), true experts


A huge 66% of Brits now use smart devices to browse the internet – many of us rarely turn on a desktop PC or laptop outside of work.

The audience for lots of small businesses is local, so that needs to come into play when you plan your advertising. Make sure you’re only targeting potential customers you can actually serve.

Great for: supporting multi-channel brand awareness campaigns, short-term offers and promotions


Don’t be scared! The world of online advertising may seem overwhelming at first, but by taking control and planning your campaign carefully you can get great results for a small business, and it offers much more visibility on what you’re getting for your money than more traditional forms of advertising like print, billboards and radio.

We’ve focused here on the main paid online advertising options, watch this space for other articles on digital marketing, including Search Engine Optimisation.

Like what you’ve read? Why not join us on twitter @npowerbusiness #energytogrow and Linkedin at npower Business





Comments on this article (0)

Add a comment



Our Social Sites