Part 4 of the Online Marketing in a Small Town series. The topic of this post is pay-per-click advertising, or sponsored ads and we'll focus on AdWords and Facebook today. There are a few ways in which your business located in a rural area can take advantage of this.
Google AdWords allows you to utilize sponsored advertising and pay on a cost-per-click basis, meaning you only pay when the ad is clicked. You can either choose to have your ad show in search or on other websites. When running your ad in the search network, you can choose the keywords that trigger an ad and they only show when someone searches for that search term on Google (or smaller search engines powered by Google).
For example if you sell and service chainsaws locally, your keyword list might include things such as 20 in chainsaw, buy a chainsaw, Stihl chainsaw, chainsaw servicing, chainsaw sharpening, etc. All of the keywords you are "bidding" on should be very related to your product or service. Someone goes to the search engine, types in the term and either on the right side or top of the page your ad will appear. This is a text ad that you write and are able to control the messaging. Impressions cost you nothing, you'll pay only when the searcher clicks the ad and visits your website. Refer back to the website post in the series...don't waste your money once you get them to your website.
So you have a list of keywords that are related to your products or services, but being a small business you locally...how can you make sure you don't waste your money? When running your ads in Adwords, you can choose a geographic location in which your ads show. You can target based on a region, a specific city or town, or even choose to show in a radius around a specific point. Going back to the chainsaw example...if you know that 95% of your business comes from no further than 30 miles away, you should choose to only show your ads within that radius. By doing this you are increasing the likelihood that someone will become your customer. If you are a local business only DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS! Yes, less people will see your ad, but the people that do would be the ones that purchase!
In our previous post we discussed SEO and local. In this strategy it is difficult to rank for every small town within your region because you cannot use those terms in your copy without appearing spammy. Sure it is possible, but it is a difficult feat especially if you have competition in some of those other small towns in which you do not have a physical location. Sponsored advertising is an easy way to combat that.
There are some more advanced things that you can do here, but I'll discuss the 2 most important things for local. First, link your Google+ local business page to your account. By doing this you will be able to show an address right with your ad. When a local shopper can easily visualize you are local it's very helpful. Even though you are in a small town, it doesn't mean that every local person knows what you do or sell. Again, going back to the chainsaw example...maybe you sell chainsaws and you are looking to grow that area of business, but your main business is grinding tree stumps. A potential buyer might search one of these terms not even knowing someone local sells them where they can go and see it in person and not have to wait for it to be shipped.
My second recommendation is to write ad copy that appeals to your local audience or catches their attention. Try to set yourself apart from any other ads that may be running nationally. Shopping local is a common theme these days, so consider using "Shop Local" in your ad. Also consider using the name of your town or the small towns that you are targeting.
Google AdWords can be very lucrative for a small local business as you are only showing an ad to someone looking for your product or service, at the exact time they are looking for it and in the same geographic area they are searching for it in.
Not every time, but many times that someone searches using a mobile device they are looking for a fast solution. This gives you a big advantage over online retailers. By allowing this searcher to know that you have a more immediate solution to their problem than waiting on shipping or having to travel further for a big box store, you capture this person much quicker. AdWords allows you to serve specific ads to mobile visitors. If you have a product or service that getting the attention of a mobile searcher would benefit, it is a great way to go. When you run mobile ads be sure they are going to a landing page that is mobile friendly and include the click-to-call feature right in the ad so they can give you a quick ring.
If you have a limited budget, it wouldn't hurt to schedule your ads so they only run during and around the hours when you are open. People searching for a local solution often want to call and if you are unavailable there is no guarantee that person will check the site out tomorrow. Normally this isn't a problem, but if you want to make every click count and you know you might lose a customer if you aren't open, have your ads turn off during your closed hours.
Similar to AdWords, you can run Facebook advertising on a pay-per-click basis...again meaning you only pay when the ad is clicked. There are pros and cons to Facebook advertising as with anything. The biggest upside is the ability to target so specifically. You can target people based on age, interests, marital status, education level, geography, interests, job status and more. This is all information that these individuals have provided to Facebook, so it's not just a best guess scenario. Facebook advertising is a great way to get in front of your target demographic and if you are targeting a fairly small area, you will not need a large budget.
The downside of Facebook advertising is that you aren't showing your ad only when people are looking for your product or service. You are showing an ad regardless of what their goal is while they are on Facebook...and let's face it, they aren't looking on social media for your ads.
How Facebook Sponsored Ads are Great for Local Businesses
When someone likes your local business on Facebook you have the opportunity to communicate with them on an ongoing basis without spending money! Facebook sponsored ads are a great way to grow your Facebook likes and build that audience...just don't disappoint. Keep your Facebook page active and interesting. Remember, you might be investing a little bit to grow your audience, but if you do a good job this is a larger audience that will hear your messaging over a longer period of time.
Both are great options for local businesses, how you approach it will just vary based on your business type. My biggest recommendation is to not participate too heavily in sponsored ads if your website is not presentable or convey accurate information. You are paying for these clicks so don't waste your money by disappointing them when they actually arrive on the site.
Let us know if you would like $100 AdWords gift card to test the waters. It can get your feet wet and give you an idea if it is something you'd like to pursue further. If you give us your email, we'll send one for you to use!