How Small Businesses Can Use Display Advertising to Drive Relevant Traffic

Brian Honigman ,


If you Google “display advertising for small business”, you won’t find much information on how to use this advertising medium to impact the growth of your small business. Does this imply display advertising isn’t right for a small business? Not at all, in fact many small business owners just don’t know what the goals of display advertising are and therefore, they often execute a flawed strategy.

The goal of display advertising is to help drive visibility for your brand, increase conversions, improve ROI, traffic to your website and remind recent customers to continue to shop or checkout their shopping cart. In the best-case scenario, these banner ads appear on websites relevant to your company and the interests of your audience. This relevancy should help entice new and returning customers to perform an action with your business that leads to long-term customer retention and sales.

The popularity of mobile and social advertising has continued to reduce the amount of spend that is allocated globally to display advertising, as well as desktop advertising in general. Nevertheless, it is estimated that desktop ad spending will peak at $35.39 billion in 2014. Display advertising is still relevant despite the shifting marketing landscape in raising brand awareness, prospecting new clients and converting lost or distracted visitors.

Let’s take a look at how small businesses can look to use display advertising to drive relevant traffic to their website on a consistent basis.

Define Your Metrics

Like any marketing campaign, it’s crucial to clearly define what metrics you’re looking to measure in order to achieve your goals. For instance, if you’re looking to increase visibility of your brand than impressions is one of your best bets for understanding the reach of your ads in terms of who actually saw them. In this case, it’s very important to target your ads to the right audience and websites to make sure the impressions are valuable and not being seen by the wrong type of people.

However, some of the best metrics to take into consideration when analyzing the success of a display ad are clicks on your ads, as well as actions that have occurred as a direct result of those clicks. It is true that a cookie will follow a user across the web who has seen the ad but hasn’t clicked on it, to best understand how their future actions were affected by that ad. However, don’t solely rely on the help of this tracking cooking since this isn’t the most robust form of measurement in terms of display advertising effectiveness.

This method of measurement is quite difficult to attribute to the eventual purchase a user makes when they’ve most likely interacted with four different sources before making a decision to buy. This type of attribution can be monitored in Google Analytics in the multi-channel funnel report to best understand how each marketing channel impacts the multiple touch point across the purchasing funnel to eventually lead to a purchase. It just hard to connect if the spend allocated to display truly impacted a purchase or not using this method.

As a small business, it isn’t recommended that you rely too heavily on spending marketing dollars based on impressions or post-click conversions in display advertising. Focus solely on metrics like clicks and conversions generated from visits within the last 24 hours. With a limited budget, your business should only be spending money on display advertising when it drives actions on your website directly associated from someone seeing an ad.

Segment Appropriately

When using display advertising, especially when remarketing your ads to existing customers or visitors, it’s important to segment your ads to different parts of your audience. Segmentation allows only certain ads from your business to show up for certain types of visitors.

For instance, you could serve certain display ads to only visitors who’ve visited your new arrivals section of your website for 30 days from the last time they’ve visited, no more than 4 times in a week. Segmentation is a powerful technique because it allows your ads to be as personal and relevant to the user as possible, which will help your ads be more effective since they better match a person’s needs.

From a small business perspective, it’s important to not over segment the traffic to your website through display advertising and keep things as simple as possible. Limit the segmentations you’re using to target recent visitors that have been to your website in the last 30 days, visitors that have added items to their shopping cart or wish list, visitors to certain areas of your website or the interest categories that are associated with your customer’s preferences, whether that be technology, fashion, cooking, gaming or whatever other interests best matches your audience.

Provide Exclusive Offers

Some visitors to your website may never come back again, simply because they were distracted or went to visit a competitor’s online store to compare pricing. In order to combat both issues and get traffic to your website consistently, use display ads to remarket to recent visitors by offering an exclusive time sensitive deal. This deal can feature a promotional code, a free sample, access to original content or some other offer that entices recent visitors to visit your website once again.

Experiment with different offers, but always be wary about being too promotional. If you’re online or offline store is consistently featuring 50% off sales, then it’ll be expected from your customer base that your products or services will always be 50% off. This could cheapen your business and affect its long-term growth. Focus on adding value to your customer base, while occasionally sharing exclusive offers to get your customers coming back.

Design Your Ads With Care

Often overlooked as just another part of the process, the design of your display ads is often the most critical reason for their success or failure. The details of your designs affect the overall conversion rate and therefore, they should be the top priority for your business when using display advertising to reach your customers. Designing beautiful ads for a small business doesn’t mean your company has to have a big budget, just an eye for what makes a good design, what your brand should look like and how to gain the attention of web users on a cluttered web page.

Visitors will make a snap judgment on the fly as to whether they trust your ad, if they will click on it and if they’re going to buy your product once they’ve reached your website. As a small business, you should hire a graphic designer if you don’t have the eye or the skills to properly approach your branding needs for your display ads or other design needs. Your designer can be found through Elance, Dribbble, Behance, oDesk and other online freelance marketplaces for an affordable price.

A well-trained designer, which you can determine through viewing their portfolio, can help choose easy-to-view colors, work with the existing color schemes of your website, help formulate the layout of your call-to-actions, balance text with imagery and more to ensure your ad is as visually appealing as possible to drive people to take action with your display ads.

If you Google “display advertising for small business”, you won’t find much information on how to use this advertising medium to impact the growth of your small business. Does this imply display advertising isn’t right for a small business? Not at all, in fact many small business owners just don’t know what the goals of display advertising are and therefore, they often execute a flawed strategy.

The goal of display advertising is to help drive visibility for your brand, increase conversions, improve ROI, traffic to your website and remind recent customers to continue to shop or checkout their shopping cart. In the best-case scenario, these banner ads appear on websites relevant to your company and the interests of your audience. This relevancy should help entice new and returning customers to perform an action with your business that leads to long-term customer retention and sales.

The popularity of mobile and social advertising has continued to reduce the amount of spend that is allocated globally to display advertising, as well as desktop advertising in general. Nevertheless, it is estimated that desktop ad spending will peak at $35.39 billion in 2014. Display advertising is still relevant despite the shifting marketing landscape in raising brand awareness, prospecting new clients and converting lost or distracted visitors.

Let’s take a look at how small businesses can look to use display advertising to drive relevant traffic to their website on a consistent basis.

Define Your Metrics

Like any marketing campaign, it’s crucial to clearly define what metrics you’re looking to measure in order to achieve your goals. For instance, if you’re looking to increase visibility of your brand than impressions is one of your best bets for understanding the reach of your ads in terms of who actually saw them. In this case, it’s very important to target your ads to the right audience and websites to make sure the impressions are valuable and not being seen by the wrong type of people.

However, some of the best metrics to take into consideration when analyzing the success of a display ad are clicks on your ads, as well as actions that have occurred as a direct result of those clicks. It is true that a cookie will follow a user across the web who has seen the ad but hasn’t clicked on it, to best understand how their future actions were affected by that ad. However, don’t solely rely on the help of this tracking cooking since this isn’t the most robust form of measurement in terms of display advertising effectiveness.

This method of measurement is quite difficult to attribute to the eventual purchase a user makes when they’ve most likely interacted with four different sources before making a decision to buy. This type of attribution can be monitored in Google Analytics in the multi-channel funnel report to best understand how each marketing channel impacts the multiple touch point across the purchasing funnel to eventually lead to a purchase. It just hard to connect if the spend allocated to display truly impacted a purchase or not using this method.

As a small business, it isn’t recommended that you rely too heavily on spending marketing dollars based on impressions or post-click conversions in display advertising. Focus solely on metrics like clicks and conversions generated from visits within the last 24 hours. With a limited budget, your business should only be spending money on display advertising when it drives actions on your website directly associated from someone seeing an ad.

Segment Appropriately

When using display advertising, especially when remarketing your ads to existing customers or visitors, it’s important to segment your ads to different parts of your audience. Segmentation allows only certain ads from your business to show up for certain types of visitors.

For instance, you could serve certain display ads to only visitors who’ve visited your new arrivals section of your website for 30 days from the last time they’ve visited, no more than 4 times in a week. Segmentation is a powerful technique because it allows your ads to be as personal and relevant to the user as possible, which will help your ads be more effective since they better match a person’s needs.

From a small business perspective, it’s important to not over segment the traffic to your website through display advertising and keep things as simple as possible. Limit the segmentations you’re using to target recent visitors that have been to your website in the last 30 days, visitors that have added items to their shopping cart or wish list, visitors to certain areas of your website or the interest categories that are associated with your customer’s preferences, whether that be technology, fashion, cooking, gaming or whatever other interests best matches your audience.

Provide Exclusive Offers

Some visitors to your website may never come back again, simply because they were distracted or went to visit a competitor’s online store to compare pricing. In order to combat both issues and get traffic to your website consistently, use display ads to remarket to recent visitors by offering an exclusive time sensitive deal. This deal can feature a promotional code, a free sample, access to original content or some other offer that entices recent visitors to visit your website once again.

Experiment with different offers, but always be wary about being too promotional. If you’re online or offline store is consistently featuring 50% off sales, then it’ll be expected from your customer base that your products or services will always be 50% off. This could cheapen your business and affect its long-term growth. Focus on adding value to your customer base, while occasionally sharing exclusive offers to get your customers coming back.

Design Your Ads With Care

Often overlooked as just another part of the process, the design of your display ads is often the most critical reason for their success or failure. The details of your designs affect the overall conversion rate and therefore, they should be the top priority for your business when using display advertising to reach your customers. Designing beautiful ads for a small business doesn’t mean your company has to have a big budget, just an eye for what makes a good design, what your brand should look like and how to gain the attention of web users on a cluttered web page.

Visitors will make a snap judgment on the fly as to whether they trust your ad, if they will click on it and if they’re going to buy your product once they’ve reached your website. As a small business, you should hire a graphic designer if you don’t have the eye or the skills to properly approach your branding needs for your display ads or other design needs. Your designer can be found through Elance, Dribbble, Behance, oDesk and other online freelance marketplaces for an affordable price.

A well-trained designer, which you can determine through viewing their portfolio, can help choose easy-to-view colors, work with the existing color schemes of your website, help formulate the layout of your call-to-actions, balance text with imagery and more to ensure your ad is as visually appealing as possible to drive people to take action with your display ads.

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Brian Honigman
Content Marketing & Social Media Consultant
http://www.brianhonigman.com/