With digital advertising being such a fast-moving, ever-changing landscape, I sat down with our in-house advertising team, as well as reached out to advertising experts online, to see what their biggest advertising solutions were for thriving with digital advertising in 2018 and beyond.

Here are the answers you need about digital advertising for local businesses from around the web, and within Vendasta's own doors.  

Digital Advertising Answers from the Experts [Video]

25 Digital Advertising Tips and Most Popular Questions Answered from the Experts

1. Why is digital advertising important for local businesses?

It's about creating a visual for your company, it's about getting your name out there. You can't rely on older print companies anymore to provide advertising and get your customers to come into your store. Pascal Dimnik

Digital Advertising Designer, Vendasta

Digital advertising is super important for local businesses for three reasons. The first is budgeting. It's super important for local businesses to have a budget of what they want to spend and what they can afford. Digital advertising allows them to do that. The second is metrics, so you can see exactly how your ads are performing, and furthermore you can allocate your resources into the mediums of digital advertising that are working better. The third reason is targeting because you can tailor your products or your business to certain groups of people or certain areas in the city that you think it would perform better, which is super important, especially when you're on a tight budget.

Shai Bravo

Digital Advertising Coordinator, Vendasta

2. How does a business' overall online presence play into their advertising?

It all ties together. If you're looking at bringing people into the store, selling products, or just getting your brand out there, it's extremely important that you tie all that together into the marketing stack.

I believe that it's important for local businesses because everybody goes online nowadays for research, for buying products, etc., so it's very important that they pay attention to their online reputation and their online presence.

Most consumers nowadays, that's their first point of contact. Before, it was entering the stores, and now it's doing research through Google and through Facebook. They see how they respond to customers, they see what kind of ratings they get...it's very important that they pay attention to their online reputation and presence, primarily because that's where they're going to reach their customers and grab more leads.

Digital advertising can help with that. If they're posting a lot on their social media profile, digital advertising can help bring that attention and make it worthwhile for them to put that effort into their online presence.

Online presence is super important for digital advertising because without having an online presence, your ads aren't being directed into the proper places. So even if people are interested in your product, they're not finding you. If you're not on Google, you're not on the internet. So start with that before even thinking about doing advertising.

3. What channel works best for local business advertising (Search vs. Display vs. Social)?

I'm a little biased, as I work with Display, but they all kind of tie-in. Display is extremely good at getting click-through traffic to your site or landing page. Social is very important for small businesses, as it's built to sell to local clients, and a lot of times that's going to be a large seller base. So, they're both very important.

I believe they all have their merits. It really depends on what the client or the business is looking for. If the business was looking for more of a branding campaign, trying to get their name out there if they're new, trying to get people aware of who they are, I believe both Social and Display are the best options.

If they're looking to target more high-intention consumers, people who are actively searching for their product or service, then they'd want to focus on Google AdWords (Search). That's where they're going to find more consumers who are actively searching for them.

If they're looking to engage with customers, and build that relationship in creating contests, then they'd want to focus on social. Whether that be Facebook, or Twitter, or any of those social marketing platforms. That's where they want to put their attention because that's the best way to build up that relationship with clients and consumers.

I'm going to give a cop out answer and say that it depends on the goals of your campaign. If you're trying to get calls, I'd suggest Google Search. If you're trying to get visits, I'd suggest Google Display. If you're trying to target your product or service, I'd suggest Facebook, because it allows you to do that.

Which is the best channel depends on your priorities... And even then, there's usually no hard and fast answer. It depends on these variables:

  • What are your business goals (increase revenue & market share, or increase profitability)?
  • Do you need to hit short term targets, or are you looking for longer term success?
  • How much of a margin are you making on your products/services?
  • How competitive is your niche/field?
  • What's your current level of visibility in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)?
  • Are you already an established brand?
  • Are you selling or launching something new?
  • Is there a barrier to entry or significant education required to purchase/benefit from your products/services?
  • How large is the target market you're aiming at?
  • What are your direct competitors doing with their marketing budgets?
James Armstrong

Marketing Manager & Futurologist, KVH Media Group

4. What's the biggest mistake you see local businesses making with their digital advertising?

Too much information. They're trying to sell everything at once, and trying to compound their old ideas of how to create ads into new ones. People aren't looking to read a couple paragraphs on an ad, they're looking for quick information. Visuals drive marketing these days, people are looking for video, images—things that catch their attention. I think that the biggest mistake they make is trying to give too much information at first. You need to bring people in and then give them all that information.

Probably just not putting enough time and attention to their online presence. A lot of local businesses will make a website and just leave it there for years and years and years.They'll build a Facebook page but they'll never post on it, they'll never engage with their consumers, they'll never give a reason for people to go to their Facebook page. I believe primarily they just don't pay enough attention. Again, it's where people are going to have a lot of their first contacts with businesses nowadays.

It's very important that they put attention into their online presence and make sure that when consumers go there, they know exactly what they're getting.

Not understanding what they're doing before they're doing it. Time and time again you see on Facebook, or on Google, people are trying to do it themselves that don't know what they're going. In my mind, you're just wasting your money, and you could be using it more effectively if you're using an expert.

The biggest mistake I see is that they're flat out not doing it. Local businesses suffer from being anonymous—to not even be seen. Logan Young

Co-Founder and Vice President of Strategy, BlitzMetrics

5. What was your best ad campaign (and why)?

I had a really good ad campaign that was based around a quick jingle. Once they picked up this jingle we created for them, this little rhyme and strong visual, people started connecting that. So when they thought of that, they didn't think of all the different franchises they'd heard of through this brand, they thought of this particular one, which is really important for them.

The best ad campaign we've done is for a restaurant. They already had a great reputation within the community, which really helps to begin with, but they're very active on social media as well. They're constantly posting promotions, deals, specials, what their updated menu is for the day and so on. It really helped that they engage with their consumers.

We ran a Facebook campaign for them, it did very well. They got huge engagement from their posts. People liked it, commented, shared it, it was great. It just shows that it helps to build that reputation, especially with sharing and commenting, because a lot of Facebook users are sharing with people that might not have known about that business or who are outside of the city itself and coming to visit. So, they not only reached consumers within their market, but they extended beyond that just in the engagement and how people felt about the business.

One of the best ad campaigns I've ever heard is a radio one we created for Spar's Prosecco. We wrote a nature documentary-style commentary on the life of a bubble drifting up through a glass, it's completely compelling to hear in-store, and really makes you wish for some refreshing fizz!

6. What's the worst ad campaign you've seen (and why)?

The worst ad campaign I've ever seen is when we ran a social campaign for a bedbug company. Their whole purpose was just getting rid of bedbugs, and all their creative revolved around showing images of bedbugs. They wanted to bring people to their Facebook page and grow their Facebook audience, but it was very difficult to do that because it's not a consumer-friendly business.

People aren't on Facebook to look at pictures of bedbugs. It was very very difficult and we had to get that across to the client that we understand that that's where they want the attention, and we did bring some attention to it, but it's not something people want to see on their newsfeed. People aren't scrolling through and looking for that. So it was a very difficult campaign, unfortunately, just due to the business itself and what their services were focusing on.

One of the worst is the recent McDonalds "beaks and feet" campaign... It's attempting to convince people that their chicken nuggets only contain breast meat... All it achieves is to link "beaks and feet" with McDonalds Chicken Nuggets!

7. What's your biggest tip for advertising for local businesses?

Visuals. People want to see images, videos are popular, etc. You need a strong, single message for what you're selling. You need a clear idea of what you're trying to get, and who you want to get.

One of the biggest things I see is just making sure that your online information is up to date, and then bringing attention to that. Put some money behind bringing attention and awareness to your business, to your Facebook page, showing your products and services. Primarily, you want to make sure that everything is up-to-date online and then make sure that it's out there for customers to find easily and frequently.

My biggest tip for local businesses who are interested in digital ads is to understand what the goals of your company are, what the goals of your product are, who you're trying to target, and make sure you have a presence online. Without that, you're wasting your money and not using it effectively.

It's common for small B2B companies to struggle with generating ROI and leads through digital advertising, especially when selling to a niche audience or targeting a local area. For these businesses, a media plan that encompasses print and digital will work best, but regardless, digital ads should be placed in both local and industry publications.

Matt Engelson

Digital Marketing Manager, Sagefrog Media Group

Facebook ads are fantastic, if local businesses know to produce 1 minute videos posted from their page, talking about who they are and what they do, boosted for $1 a day for 7 days. That simple.

Understand your metrics and identify the gaps in your marketing funnel and use digital ads to fill that.

Abinesh Manoharan

Strategy Coordinator of Digital Advertising, Vendasta

Understand what works to attract customers today and put a per customer cost/value on it. Attempt to beat it using the many available "measurable" tactics. Tim Johnson

Vice President of Strategic Development, Vendasta

Conclusion

Obviously digital advertising is a vital piece of the new marketing stack for local businesses—and therefore a must-have service to offer as a marketing agency. Hopefully these digital advertising tips answered from the people in the trenches can help you start to navigate these waters for you and your clients.

The biggest takeaways I got from my interviews with the experts were:

  1. Understand the core messaging behind your product/service before you throw money behind that message on an advertising channel
  2. Make sure the rest of your online presence ducks are in a row, and keep them in that row for your advertising leads to fall into that purchase funnel
  3. No single tip will work for each and every business, as every business is totally unique. The best thing to do is test, track, rinse, and repeat to unlock that "secret advertising sauce" for you and your clients

Test out what channels, messaging, and visuals work best for your clients and come report back in the comments below!

If you want to get started with offering digital advertising to your clients but don't know how, let our digital advertising team handle the campaign strategy, creation, and optimization for you and your clients.

See the results they've achieved for other local business clients in these case studies: