Online Advertising for Small Business

Online advertising is more important than ever and should be part of your overall marketing plan. If you don’t have an online presence, you’ll miss out on identifying new customers and engaging with your current customers. Here’s an outline of ideas and strategies to execute a strong and effective strategy.

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What exactly is marketing?

Before you nail down an online advertising approach for your business, understand the difference between online marketing with online advertising.

Advertising is just one component of a comprehensive marketing plan. Public relations efforts, media planning, pricing, distribution, sales strategy, customer service, competitive research, and engaging with your community are all parts of comprehensive marketing plans.

Online advertising includes these strategies where appropriate like using social media, content creation, and SEO.

Before you get started

Conduct a competitive analysis to assess your industry and business landscape. Look at similar businesses online to assess their strategy. Make note of what seems to work (ad copy, images, CTA, etc.) and where they fall short.

Paid online advertising programs

Pay per click (PPC)

PPC (also known cost per click or “CPC”) are ads that are paid when someone actually clicks on the link. You don’t pay if your ads are unseen or if ad is seen but no action is taken. PPC adds can include text and images. The price that you pay per click is determined by marketplace keyword value.

CPA and Revshare

Less common forms of online advertising include CPA (cost per acquisition) and Revshare models. This model of online advertising is a pay per lead is generated. Revshare is when you receive an allotment of the profits from your referral.


Retargeting (also known as remarketing) can be an effective strategy if you have good website traffic - at least 5,000 visitors a month. Retargeting works by utilizing “cookies”, data stored by the Web browser that remembers users who visited your advertisement or webpage. Showing relevant, targeted ads to users that have shown an interest in your brand, increases brand awareness and conversions.

Best practices for paid advertising include copy with a strong CTA and vibrant images that correspond with your offerings.

Free online advertising programs

Online business listings

One of the simplest yet most important steps you can take to ensure your business is getting the recognition it deserves is to keep track of your listings in online directories, like Google®, Yelp®, BBB®, Angie’s List®, and more.

A great place to start is Google My Business. Registering your company with up-to-date information will help it rank higher when potential customers search for related terms. Having a company profile can also allow you to collect reviews of your business that can help you build your online reputation.

Here’s an example of the Google My Business page that appears when users google SmartBiz Loans:


Social Media

To grow a following, embrace social media. The networks you’ll want to focus on will depend on your business type and target audience. Select a few platforms that you’d like to zero in on and invest the time needed to craft meaningful, engaging content. Here are some of the most popular ones to consider.


Public relations, talent management, and other client service agencies can really leverage platforms like Twitter to interact with customers in real time. Because tweets are quick and instant, providing customer support will help you build trust. Getting creative and taking advantage of how fast information spreads can lead to more recognition for your company. Tweet us!


Instagram can be a perfect fit for businesses in the fashion and retail industries to show off the products and services they offer in a visually appealing feed. If you’re ready to join, make sure to create a business profile so you can add contact details, tag products, and have access to insights and analytics. Because an image or video is required for every post, it can help to plan your content in advance so you can publish consistently and keep your followers engaged. Follow us on Instagram!


Video is a great way to create educational content in a slightly longer format, especially successful for media and e-learning firms. Uploading to YouTube can give you freedom to make creative decisions and choose what works best for your business. The combination of education and entertainment is a fail-safe when it comes to interesting content. Watch our YouTube videos!


Reaching professionals through industry-related content can help you make important connections that can grow your small business. LinkedIn is also an excellent way to establish yourself as an expert within your field. Definitely consider creating a LinkedIn profile for your business if you offer professional, tech, or educational client services so you can contribute to the online conversation. Connect with us on LinkedIn!


On this image-focused network, businesses offering a product can benefit by styling it in different ways. The more your pictures are “pinned,” the more users see them. Then, they can follow the link to your site to learn more. Look into creating a business profile on Pinterest if you’re in the retail, fashion, beauty, or food services industries so you can highlight what you do best.


With an established audience on Facebook, you have the opportunity to reach current and potential customers. Given that your content is unique and share-worthy, the Facebook tools can help you track how your posts are performing. Businesses especially in the retail, technology, or entertainment industries might find that Facebook is a great source of getting your message out. Although it’s free to post, you can put a little money behind your content to get it in front of a targeted audience. Check us out on Facebook!

Content Marketing

60% of people actively seek out a product or a service after reading about it online, which is what content marketing is all about. Learn how to use this strategy to promote your brand: 7 Solid Reasons to Use Content Marketing for Business Growth.

Email Marketing

Email marketing remains a strong customer outreach tool for small businesses. Launching an email marketing campaign might sound overwhelming but the payoff can lead to increased brand awareness and sales. Best practices include choosing the right platform, making it easy to subscribe…and unsubscribe, crafting effective subject lines and proofreading.

Additional resources

The SmartBiz Small Business Blog is written for entrepreneurs and offers expert information about credit, lending, and business operations. Here are additional posts that can help you craft effective campaigns:


Read how one SmartBiz customer grew his business exclusively on Facebook by marketing to mothers with small children: Business Story: Ro Sham Bo Baby.


Another SmartBiz customer currently has over 51,000 followers and continue to grow organically using popular hashtags: Business Story: The Infinity Strap.