Hi, my name is Nicole, and I just opened a pet supply store in northern New Jersey – and I’m trying to gain awareness and traffic to my new store. (Well, this not all true, but for all purposes of this post… it holds true).
As a small business owner, it can be hard to find the appropriate outlets for gaining awareness and foot traffic to a new store – especially when your business is in a suburban town of New Jersey (no pun intended). One usually has to rely on word-of-mouth in order to gain exposure. But in this age, where computers, cell phones, tablets and social media dominate – you cannot solely rely on friends of friends to get your name or brand out there.
Small businesses, like my pet supply store, are in need of exposure – exposure in the online space, that is. That’s where search marketing comes in, specifically paid search marketing.
Paid Search marketing can be an extremely useful tool for small business owners, since you, the owner, can manage your own campaigns on your own. Essentially, you can market yourself! And yes, small businesses can compete with large businesses. My pet supply store can play in the same advertising space as PetSmart, Petco, or even Amazon – as long as it’s done right.
Put Your “Thinking Cap” On
If you’re a small business trying to run a paid search campaign, try thinking of the following:
- First things first, Devise a Plan – What is the goal of your website? What is the call-to-action? It could be promoting a sale, new inventory in stock, an email sign up, or simply to drive potential new customers inside the store location
- How much money to invest? Remember, this is a pay-per-click model, meaning each person who clicks your ad, will charge your business – or better yet…you!
- Is my website ready? Do I have flash on my website? Is my site user-friendly? Is there enough useful information on my site which I can build an effective campaign/ keywords?
- Be Relevant! –What are the most relevant pages to direct the user to visit? – and from here, how can I build out keyword lists/ ad groups/ ads campaigns that ties in with the page.
Those are just some of things to think about before and during creating a paid search campaign for your small business. Of course, there are several other components that make up a paid search campaign, but these are just some ideas to think of.
Benefits of Paid Search for Small Businesses
The benefits. Paid search is a useful tool that can be beneficial to not only small businesses, but any business that wants to establish a name for itself. Here are some (definitely not all) of the benefits small businesses can gain from paid search marketing.
- Budgeting – As mentioned earlier, since paid search uses a CPC model (more often than CPM), you only accrue cost when someone clicks on your ad. Therefore, the key to a successful paid search ad/ campaign is to be (once again) relevant. Through paid search, the advertiser is also able to set daily caps, so that the engine would not go over a daily allotted budget. The advertiser is also given the flexibility of changing caps whenever it’s necessary.
- Day-Parting – Day-parting is a nice strategic move for small businesses with limited budget, or for those who wish to only display ads during certain hours of the day. The advertiser is able set up the time of day and/or day of week which they want their ads to be appear on SERPs. (i.e. I can set my ads to run only during 7am – 11pm Tuesday – Saturday and pause at all other times.)
- Location Targeting – Another strategic and also cost savings tactic. Advertisers are able to have control on what areas of the world their ads are shown. Since I have a small business in northern New Jersey, chances are, I only want to reach people in surrounding towns of my shop. I don’t care to advertise to people in California or Tennessee, since they are least likely to visit my store.
- Customizing & Sitelinks/ Rich Ads – Probably the best part of paid search marketing is the abilty to customize ad copy and tailor it to your business. The advertiser is able to create ad copy they want (as long as it abides by the Engine’s policies). And now, Google and Bing/ Yahoo offer advertisers the ability to add sublinks to their ads. Google Sitelinks or Yahoo! RAIS can help small businesses (or any business for the matter) display several links within an ad, driving users to more relevant pages based on the sublink. For instance, I can have 4 sublinks driving to different pages (1) Sale (2) Email Sign Up (3) New Arrivals (4) Contest Sweepstake. (*An important takeaway of sitelinks is that sitelinks (at least on Google) have been proven to show a lift in CTR for many industry verticals. And of course, an increase in CTR can bring lower CPCs and higher average position. Meaning, my small business has a great chance of showing in top positions alongside large name brands or possibly in the top position spot).
Of course, there are many more reasons as to why paid search is a viable tool for small businesses, but this is just a taste of the greatness that paid search can do for small businesses.
Paid Search for Large Businesses
Enough about the small – let’s talk about the big picture…
Like small businesses, paid search is probably even more crucial for large businesses. Why? Because everyone’s doing it! It’s like a scenario of peer pressure in high school – everyone’s doing it, so you should, too!
Because of the complexity of large businesses, many either hire an internal team to manage their paid search initiatives or hire outside agencies (ah-hem, Razorfish).
Time to Use Your Noggin & Think BIG!
Much like small businesses, you should think of the following when creating Paid Search campaigns for large businesses:
- The Goal – What is it that the brand offers? What does the company want to sell to the user? Maybe the large business is a department store that sells shoes, clothing and furniture. Do you want to focus on all departments the store offers? Or just a single segment?
- Budget – What is the brand budget? How much is the company willing to spend on agency fees (if hiring external help)?
- Landing Page – What pages will the users go to? Because of the complexity of larger businesses – there will usually be several campaigns and sometimes accounts in order to segment the different categories of items the department sells/ or business caters to.
As mentioned earlier, the main idea of managing paid search campaigns for small and large businesses does not differ by much. However, if you are managing for a larger business – you are managing at a grander scale – with larger budgets, etc. which requires more attention (usually by several people). Since many large businesses are using paid search as a tactic, this makes it even more of a reason for why other large businesses need to use paid search as well.
Benefits of Paid Search for Large Businesses
- “Preventing other advertisers from eating your lunch” – As Razorfish Lead Account Manager, Amos Ductan, puts it. Basically, if your competition is there, you should be there, too. No one wants there lunch stolen, right?
- Paid search & organic work together – Many studies have shown that paid and organic listings working together help to increase traffic to the site, increase visibility and overall, increases brand awareness – businesses, in general, should not solely rely on organic listings as a way of promotion.
- Customizing – Paid Search allows businesses to customize ad copy – optimizing copy with add-ins like sitelinks, location extensions, product extensions, call extensions, etc.
- Targeting – Large businesses can choose to target users by demographics, psychographics, IP address, in order to write and tailor ad copy to niche audiences.
- And the list goes on and on and on…
In the end, Small & Large Businesses live happily ever after.
Whether tall or short, narrow or wide, small or large – paid search marketing can be useful tool for just about any business size. There are many external caveats that can make search a complex tactic to manage. But, with handy tools and creative minds – small and large businesses may both see success in using paid search as a medium.