Online advertising on a budget

Local online ads can be a boon for your Lorain County business.

Advertising online can be affordable when done right.

Do you want to start advertising online to boost your small business, but aren’t sure where to start? There are a number of low-cost or free options to get you started.

  • Facebook ads and boosted posts. Facebook has extensive amounts of information on its users and leverages that to help advertisers reach a targeted demographic. For as little as $5, you can get your message out to potential customers. Facebook has detailed instructions to get you started, so even first-time advertisers can easily navigate through the process. If you are using your business’ Facebook page to communicate with customers, a boosted post is another option. Boosted posts appear higher in users’ news feeds, making it more likely the post is read. Boosts are affordable and an easy way to get your message out to your fans.
  • Google Adwords. If someone is on Google, they are potentially searching for the product or service you sell, so it makes sense to try to get your message in front of them at a time when they need it. Adwords are simple ads that can be tied to particular keywords and/or geographic location. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, and there is no minimum, but Adwords uses a bidding system, meaning more popular search terms will cost more as advertisers vye for the top search results. Bing and Yahoo offer similar services.
  • Stumbleupon ads. Stumbleupon is a content discovery site that users customize to find content they are interested in. For example, if someone is interested in impressionist painting, Stumbleupon will help that user find relevant content based on their interests. If your product or service tells a story, you can utilize ads within the service to reach a highly targeted audience. Ads are five cents for each paid view, but campaigns are specialized and not for everyone. Be sure to review the success stories to see if advertising here might fit your business goals.
  • Claim local listings and directories. Google, Bing and other search engines offer free business listings that provide searchers the basic information they might be looking for, such as location and hours of operation. These listings are easy to find -- just type your business name into the search engine and see if a listing comes up. If the information is correct, you are set. If not, you’ll want to correct it, which is typically done through a “claim this listing” or other button on the listing to help owners update information. In addition to what the large search engines offer, there are often also local business directories operated by news organizations or other Internet companies. For example, LorainCounty.com has a business directory for businesses located in the county. The best way to find these additional directories is to do a search for them by using first your county name and then your city name paired with “business directory” to see what comes up. Once you know what’s out there, you can make sure all your information is updated.

There are many advertising options available for local businesses in Lorain County, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to see results. Think about where your customers are and target them where they are at. If you aren’t comfortable with national sites, then focus on local sites that get a lot of traffic. With a minimum of investment, you can boost your sales.

Christina Wade is the sales and project coordinator for Emerge Inc. If you have questions about local online advertising, contact her at cwade@emergeinc.com.

 

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