Google AdWords vs. Social Networking for Small-Business Promotion
I stumbled across an article in the New York Times the other day that I thought was worth sharing. Called "Trial and Error with AdWords and SEO," the article is about a small, high-end plus-size clothing store and a few of the different ways the owners tried to advertise their business online. They began promoting the store, called La Grande Dame, with Google AdWords but didn't really see any returns. After a few other P.R. standards, the owners eventually settled on a social networking campaign, to which they had much more luck.
The whole article is a super-interesting case study in online advertising for small businesses, and I really recommend giving it a read ... especially since I want to talk about it in greater detail in the rest of this post.
Have you read it yet? Are you sure? Good, because here comes Mike's 140 word analysis:
Though I would advise against interpreting the younger Ms. Hill's experiences with AdWords* as an indictment of the program as a whole, overall I think the article illustrates a budding reality for small businesses: For online advertising, it is hard to beat social networking.
Between her Facebook and Twitter accounts, in less than two years Ms. Hill has collected 4,000 customers that she can communicate with every day, on their computers or their phones, on websites they likely use daily. Even if only 1 percent of those customers respond to a given message, that's still 40 extra customers brought into the store for a sale or new product launch or whatever is being promoted. At no cost per message, and for a single-location retail store, I think that's a powerful advertising accomplishment.
Until next week,
*In her defense, the article does not go into a lot of detail on Ms. Hill's AdWords methodology, but given what information is presented, I have to raise an eyebrow at her processes. I have a moderate amount of experience with the program myself, and I've managed to get decent results, albeit in a different market. I think the key is to pick your keywords carefully, use the banner display network over search placement since it tends to be much cheaper (in my experience), and keep an eye on what websites are clicking your ads the most to make sure you're hitting a relevant market. I would also recommend starting with a daily budget far less than 50 dollars, at least while you're teaching yourself the program. Google offers a ton of ways to tweak and streamline Adwords, many of them not being so intuitive at first, so I would give yourself some time to test things out and see what works for your company before you start throwing money at your advertising.
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