A Basic Guide to Online Advertising

Social Media design. Media icon. Flat illustration

A Basic Guide to Online Advertising

By: Darci Maxwell

Online advertising has become the best way to reach your target audience.  Nearly everyone has a computer, smartphone, or other device that they use to surf the web, check their email, use social media, and more, even if it is just at work.  If you have not yet taken advantage of online advertising (sometimes referred to as web advertising or internet advertising), you need to jump on the bandwagon.  Read on to learn about some common methods of online advertising, both free and paid.

Social Media

Social media marketing is the practice of using one or more social media platforms to put your brand in front of your potential customers.  A good social media campaign will create a cohesive message across platforms to increase your brand awareness and attract new customers.  


Facebook is the most commonly used social media platform with 1.23 billion active users, with 62% of those users using it every day.  Many people will check out your Facebook page before visiting your brick and mortar store, so it is important to not only have a Facebook page, but have an active presence.  This means that you post at least once a week updating your followers with what’s going on, any coupons or specials you have running, and .  Creating a page and updating it is free, but it can be hard to get a fanbase.  

Facebook also allows paid advertising where you can “boost” a post, putting it in front of people who wouldn’t otherwise see it.   You get to decide who sees the post based on location, demographics, pages they “like” and more.  It can cost as little as $5/day to boost a post.

Two blue bird, dove, pigeon on speech bubble.


Twitter is home to 974 million users, the second most popular social media platform (although only 320 million if those users are active).  If you don’t yet have a twitter profile for your business, you need to set one up.   Most twitter users expect consistent tweets, so pick a time every day or once a week to build brand awareness.  If you’d like to pay for traffic, you can create a “Promoted Tweet” to put your tweets in front of more users.  


Instagram is a photo-focused social media platform with over 400 million active users.  Studies have shown that people spend more time on Instagram than anywhere else except for Facebook.  With Instagram, your customers can visually see your brand, and are more likely to engage with it than they are with written words.  You can also pay for sponsored posts, much like the other social media platforms.  


If you are marketing to millennials, it may be wise to set up a snapchat account and run a few snapchat campaigns.  Let your followers know your Snapchat handle on your other social media sites so that they can follow you.  This blog tells the story of World Wildlife Fund’s Snapchat campaign.  They featured striking images of endangered animals with captions like “better take a screenshot this could be my #LastSelfie,” “don’t let this be my #LastSelfie,” and “in 6 seconds I’ll be gone forever but you can still save my kind #LastSelfie” to raise awareness for the endangered species.  You can pay for advertising on Snapchat, but they only show up in the “Discover” or “Live” sections of the app.  

Google (And Other Search Engines)

Content Is King

The most important thing that you need to do to show up in search engines is to make sure that your content is relevant and contains the keywords that people are searching for.  You also need to keep a blog and update your page regularly, so that your website has a “pulse”.  You can handle SEO (Search Engine Optimization) yourself or hire a company to take care of it for you.  


Google Maps rankings are so important for local businesses. There are a lot of things that affect how businesses rank, however there are a few main ones that are essential. Those are citations, reviews, and location specific content on your site. Citations are any mentions of your business, name address and phone number around the web. Reviews on Google, yelp, facebook and many more help build the credibility of your business. Location specific content describes services you offer in your city, making you relevant in Google’s eyes.


It is important to get good reviews for your business on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.  Some people will give you reviews without prompting, but it is always a good idea to ask customers to post a review.  You can send them an email thanking them for their business and ask them to write a review, or call them on the phone and ask in person.  


PPC or Pay Per Click advertising are the little ads you see at the top of google and on the side of websites.  In order to create a campaign, you log into Google AdWords, and then select specific keywords that you want to be searched for, type of ad you want to run (text or picture), and then then set a bid for how much you’d be willing to “pay per click” for each keyword.  You will pay every time someone clicks on your ad.  

Marceting oncept of running email campaign, email advertising,

Email Marketing

Your email campaigns are just as important as any other online marketing strategy.  You need to remind people of your brand, offer them content that is relevant, and make your emails attractive enough that they won’t be immediately deleted.  There are many sites such as MailChimp, SharpSpring, and Infusionsoft that help make this task easier.  

Sponsored Posts

Another piece of google’s algorithm for ranking websites is tracking how many external links there are to a certain page.  Naturally, you will want to get other people talking about your brand and linking back to your website.  A good way to do this is by sponsoring content on popular blogs.  You can either give bloggers a free product or service, or pay them to write a review about your company on their blog, or to have them post an article you wrote on their blog.

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