Debate has started to heat up surrounding the issue of whether or not digital advertising campaigns are actually effective for small businesses with many columnists falling into the camp that they don’t. For example, this recent NY Times article paints Google Adwords as a costly and ineffective expense for small business owners. Looking through articles like these it is very apparent to me that they completely miss the mark. There seem to be no shortage of people staking claims that digital advertising is often too costly and inefficient for small businesses at the moment.
What all of these analysts are ignoring however is the fact that the debate for large businesses has already been settled. Anyone who wrote a column at this moment in time stating that digital ad campaigns are a waste of time for any large business would be immediately laughed off of the internet. So what exactly makes small businesses any different when it comes to the effects of paid digital advertising? Absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything.
Study after study conducted by large corporations have come back overwhelmingly stating a need to invest heavily in the digital realm to grow. These studies also show that digital advertising mediums allow for targeting campaigns with effectiveness ratings and at a cost other mediums can only dream of. If the data is coming back overwhelmingly positive for large businesses why is there still a rather large debate raging on over the same issue for small businesses?
The answer is quite simple. 1% of small businesses make changes to their keyword ads every week, and over 43% of small business owners don’t take advantage of negative keywords. On the other hand 100% of Fortune 500 companies update their keyword ads weekly and use negative keywords. The real issue isn’t that digital advertising methods are ineffective for small businesses, it’s that small businesses in general are ineffective at managing their digital advertising. As I mentioned to start off this article, the greatest thing about digital advertising is target-ability, by not keeping constant track of their advertising statistics and making changes, small business owners are losing out on everything that makes this advertising medium great.
Advertising has become cheaper, more targeted, and more direct. That also means that you now have to take control of your advertising efforts more than ever. For some reason, while everyone has received the memo that businesses need to change the way they advertise, many small business owners haven’t figured out that part of that change is constant monitoring and fine tuning. Before you write off your Bing or Yahoo advertising campaign as a failure for your business, look to make sure the failure isn’t in fact on your end. Are you adding negative keywords, changing your keywords at least once a week, and doing a full Ad Optimization at least once a month? If you aren’t, perhaps it’s time you took a look at your digital advertising strategy.