Every online business needs traffic to their website to get subscribers and sales. Most online marketers start on a shoestring budget and feel they can’t afford to use paid advertising. Fortunately, there are now many more options than even just a couple of years ago. Even better, there isn’t a steep learning curve to be able to use them and get a good return on investment.
There are several reasons why you might also use paid ads in addition to traffic. They can be great for testing marketing copy, to see which sales letter performs best, for example. You can also use them for brand building. Your ads will show on the network thousands, even millions of times. But you only pay if someone clicks.
Let’s start with a review of your options and the basics you need to know.
Where to Advertise
When we are talking about ad networks, we are referring mainly to what are termed Pay Per Click (PPC) ads. As the name implies, you only pay if someone clicks on your ads. The cost is referred to as Cost Per Click (CPC). There is also CPM, cost per thousand (M being the Roman numeral for 1,000), but most advertisers pay on a CPC basis.
The main two PPC networks are:
Google AdWords is the oldest and most established. It shows ads on its own search engine results pages (SERPs) and on a network of other sites. Some of the sites are owned by ordinary people who want to make money from their website, so they join the Google AdSense program.
Google has textual ads and a banner network of display ads. AdWords tends to be the most expensive, but this is because they have so much traffic, so their ads get results (if you set them up correctly). The system is clunky to use, however. It is so full-featured, there are courses online to teach you how to use the system.
Bing, by Microsoft, merged with Yahoo!’s ad program several years ago in an attempt to compete with Google. While it is true you might not get lots of traffic from Bing, it is also true that it tends to be cheaper and easier to use.
There are several social networks you can advertise on as well. If you’ve spent much time on them, you’ll already be familiar with their interfaces so creating ads are not as hard. Their ad programs are highly targeted, and quite easy to use. There is also not the huge amount of “ad inventory,” that is, lots of ads from competitors on the social networks (at least not yet) compared to Google AdWords. They are easier to use than Google and are driven more by matching your ads with the interest people have stated or shown through their likes and content they engage with.
Facebook is the largest social network in the world and has a very robust ad system which allows you to create ads easily even if you are a complete beginner. They help you organize your ads based on your goals, such as getting subscribers or sales, or growing the number of followers for your page so more people will see your great content.
Facebook ads offer some stiff competition to Google AdWords because the ads are cheaper, the system is easier to use, and the traffic can be much more highly targeted. You can get the same amount of traffic for pennies on the dollar compared with Google once you learn their relatively simple system. You need to have a Facebook business page to run ads. And all your ads will have to have an image.
Twitter is hugely popular with people of all ages. Twitter ads are like Facebook ads. You can promote your entire account for followers, boost posts that have done well to get more traffic or create ads from scratch. It is also very user-friendly.
Pinterest requires a great visual. You pin it to one of your pinboards and then boost the post. It is super-simple to use. You must have a Pinterest business page to run ads.
YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world, a search engine, and a social media site all rolled into one. It is also owned by Google, which means its ad program is run through AdWords. It allows certain formats of ads. These can include banner ads and even video ads.
Instagram, now owned by Facebook, allows you to run ads on Instagram via your Google account, which can make your ad management and tracking a lot easier. It is a highly visual site like Pinterest, so you need quality images to help market your business.
LinkedIn is the only social network focused around work and business. Running ads here could drive a lot of traffic, new customers and clients, and all sorts of new business-related opportunities.
There are also ad marketplaces like BuySellAds where you can connect with various sites who accept advertising. The goal here would be to find a large site that matches the niche or industry you are working in so you can get “qualified traffic,” that is, people most likely to be interested in what you have to sell.
There are several similar marketplaces, such as Chitika. Here’s an up-to-date list if you wish to explore more of these options.