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How to use online advertising as an SME

08 Jun 2017
By Stacy

I was recently asked for some advice from an SME owner on what works and what doesn’t with different online marketing channels. I thought I would share the advice I gave for any of you considering which online advertising channels to use for your own SME.

It’s easy for SMEs to spend thousands on online advertising and see little return on investment. But which types of online advertising suit SMEs, and how can you use them to grow your business?

Google Ads

Google Ads is great place to start for an SME as, when done right, you can see an immediate uplift in traffic and – assuming your product is good and your site converts well – revenue. Start small with very specific keywords and gradually expand the keywords you bid on, as you will pay for every click your ads receive!


When you make your ads as specific as possible to your service

You only want to pay for a click if you think a user will want your exact service. So, if you offer a premium product, put prices in your ads to manage expectations pre-click). Also create ads for each group of keywords you bid on (ad groups). Use characters in your PPC ads to speak directly to your user – what are their needs, motivations and concerns? Rely solely on ‘exact match’ keywords to have maximum control.


If you have little to no budget or if your website isn’t very good

Remember, you pay for every click so you want to maximise the chance of that user becoming a customer.

Facebook ads

These ads appear in the newsfeed of Facebook users. Various formats can help engage your users and encourage them to take actions such as click, like or complete a form.


If you have great content that appeals to users as they are in ‘browse’ mode

Users in Facebook, unlike Adwords, aren’t actively looking for you. If your targeting is right, and there are a whole host of targeting options on Facebook – from simple targeting like age / demographic / location, to more specific details like ‘frequent travellers’ and ‘parents of young children’. Facebook also enables you to import your database of users to either retarget them on Facebook, or to create new audience groups which have a similar profile to your typical user.


If you don’t have time to invest into it

We normally start with broad targeting, run reports on different demographic information and then break our ads out into smaller, more targeted campaigns, with tailored ad text based on their interests. This takes time and effort, but drives the best results.


There are so many ad formats on YouTube, the most prominent include banners and pre-roll – ads that appear before YouTube content. The most cost effective ads for SMEs are True-View, where you only pay when someone chooses to watch your ad.


When ads are well targeted

If you are selling dentures, you are unlikely to get visits / sales from an ad placed around Little Mix videos, for example. You also want to grab a users’ attention, so ads that have an immediate impact, are perhaps funny or could be a standalone video on YouTube, will generate the best results.


When your targeting isn’t set up correctly, so your ad doesn’t translate well online

Don’t assume that just because you have a TV ad, you can automatically place it on YouTube. Another reason this might not work is if your audience is older or very niche.

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