This article is from Clicks Magazine
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Choosing which paid ad services to use for your online advertising can feel like a crapshoot. There are so many options available, and the pressure to pick the right one – especially when you have a limited advertising budget – is enormous. As a small business owner, you don’t have money to burn. That means that you need to try to maximize your ROI right from the beginning.

The type of business you own has a lot to do with which advertising platform you pick. However, there are a few that perform well for local businesses regardless of what they do. Here are the three top services to use if you want to increase your traffic today.

#1: Facebook Local Awareness Ads

Facebook is the largest social media site, and its users have a very high level of engagement, with many of them visiting the site multiple times each day. You probably already have a Facebook page, but if you’re not also using some of Facebook’s paid advertising options for local businesses, you’re missing out on some concrete and affordable ways to attract new customers to your website.

While social media offers an easy way to reach out to users wherever they live, local businesses need to be able to focus their advertising on the people who are most likely to turn into customers. Facebook Local Awareness Ads are a great way to do that. To run one, all you need is a Facebook page for your business that includes your street address. Facebook will take care of the targeting based on your zip code. Of course, you’ll need to write a good ad and include a compelling image – but after you do that, Facebook offers an array of ways to engage with customers using their call to action buttons:

  • Message Now is a button that lets customers send a private message right to your inbox, which can be great if you want to encourage questions.
  • Call Now is a button that allows mobile users to call your business with the click of a button. It’s a very important feature to consider if you feel that the majority of your customers are accessing social media on their mobile devices.
  • Get Directions lets customers get interactive directions to your business using their mobile devices.
  • Learn More will redirect customers to the page of your choice on your website, allowing you to share valuable information with them or encourage them to sign up for your list.

All of the above options can help increase traffic to your site. Because Facebook ads are pay-per-click, you get the benefit of exposure because many customers who see your ad might not click it. It might be tempting to think that a customer who doesn’t click is one who found the ad to be ineffective, but remember – many customers need more than one engagement with a brand before they make a purchase. A customer who sees your ad several times over the course of a month may walk into your store one day without ever having clicked your ad.

#2: Google Display Network

The second ad option to consider is the Google Display Network. Google AdWords is still very popular, but ranking for search can be difficult. If your site isn’t already near the top of the list of search results for your chosen keywords, Google Display Network makes a nice alternative to AdWords.

The Google Display Network is a broad network of Google properties and third party sites that display ads purchased by Google advertisers. For example, instead of appearing on Google’s list of search results, your ad might show up on Gmail, YouTube, or any one of thousands of third party sites. You don’t have to worry about ranking for search for your ad to display, which makes it a practical option for start-up companies or those with a lot of local competition that make winning an AdWords auction a tricky proposition.

One nice thing about the Google Display Network is that you can use it for traditional advertising or remarketing. If you notice that your website has a high bounce rate, then remarketing might be the right option for you – and using the Google Display Network gives you the opportunity to reach people who abandon shopping carts or fail to opt-in on a wide variety of sites.

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#3: Bing Search Ads

The usage of Microsoft search engine Bing still lags behind Google, but that can be a very good thing when it comes to advertising local businesses. Bing’s traffic isn’t as high as Google, but it’s high enough to make it worthwhile. Because it’s smaller, the prices to bid on keywords tend to be more affordable than they are on Google, which can put popular keywords in range for small companies.

One way to weed out some of the competition when it comes to keywords is to focus on local keywords when you place your ads. For example, it’s going to be a lot easier to rank for a long-tail keyword like “Emergency Veterinary Care Seattle” than to rank for “Emergency Veterinary Care.” If you use the latter, you’ll be competing against thousands of veterinary practices worldwide. If you use the former, you’ll only have to deal with the veterinary practices that are in your immediate area.

Another fact about Bing advertising that’s often overlooked is the fact that Microsoft also owns two other search engines, Yahoo and AOL. While their market share has slipped thanks to the rise of Google, a lot of people still use them. When you pay to advertise with Bing, your ads will display on AOL and Yahoo, too.

One final thing to consider about Bing is that they offer easy import of your information from Google AdWords – a nice option if you have been using AdWords and want to switch. They offer very similar targeting options to Google, and often at lower prices.

Other good advertising options for local business include social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as mobile marketing if you want to attract mobile traffic to your site. However, the three options listed above have the greatest probability of getting you the web traffic you want to see as a result of your advertising.

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