When You Have a Small Ad Budget, is Search or Social Better?
In local advertising, there is a titanic battle between Yelp, Facebook Local, Instagram, and Google My Business. These dominant search-and-social platforms allow small and medium-sized businesses to get noticed by a local audience—but it takes savvy (and a lot of client testimonials!) to generate user interest.
To increase your pool of potential customers, you may be wondering where to invest your limited ad dollars. Say your budget is relatively small, about $600 per month. Do you pay for a sponsored spot on a user-review or social site and hope you attract some traffic? Or do you bypass those social platforms for the behemoth that is Google and try to get leads from local search advertising?
You can invest your $600 on Yelp to promote your profile and bar competitors’ ads. Your leads from Yelp still depend on client testimonials (which take time and persistence to build). If you spend your $600 on Facebook or Instagram, you may get clicks on your ads and traffic to your site, but how determined are those users to get to know your services? For the moment, they’re passively interested and will need more nurturing to keep reminding them of your value. (It takes at least 6-8 “touches” before a potential customer turns into a serious prospect.)
On Google, depending on the competitiveness of your industry, your $600 could attract 150-500 visitors to your website within a local target market. Assuming you have good SEO and high quality content, these visitors may stay awhile to read more and get to know you. The longer they spend on your site, the higher your site’s quality score and, therefore, search ranking.
Another benefit is, linking your ads to your Google My Business locations. Google’s recent Google My Business upgrades provide a slew of bonuses: ad visibility on Google maps and within your Google My Business listings (which are displayed prominently in search).
Even if your ad ends up on the second or third page of search results, it blends in with organic search results and allows the advertiser to utilize special features, or extensions, like phone numbers and multiple links. Plus, the more clicks and traffic you generate help build the long term success of your website and future search advertising efforts.
So, which option is it? Search or social?
Many companies pay for a mix of social media and search advertising in order to be present wherever a potential customer is searching or socializing. When your budget is a high priority, spreading it thin may not be wise. Test your marketing on a few platforms to find where cost and customer acquisition balance. Then scale your advertising efforts within the platform that’s working best.