Once you have a website established, you’ll want to make sure it is attracting new users. A great way to do this is implement SEO best practices. This will increase your “organic traffic,” or the people who see your site after they type a search term into the Google search bar. Organic traffic means they clicked on your site because it seemed like the best option in the search results.

But you may want to try some marketing methods that will increase your traffic even more. Including online advertising in your marketing budget is a great way to reach a larger audience. Physical billboards or yard signs only reach people in a very specific location. Online ads reach a much broader audience.

They also reach a much more targeted audience. It would be great if you only paid for your radio ad to be heard by people who actually want to renovate their kitchens or need a new roof. With powerful Google algorithms, your ad is targeted to a specific audience that is primed and ready to purchase your services. You can specify the geographic area, income level, demographic information and behavioral triggers for your ads to be seen. And when you establish a budget, you don’t pay for useless audience views. Your ad is delivered right to the people who are most likely to become customers.

Before you start advertising online, set up your website so it’s user-friendly, engaging and interesting. When someone is intrigued enough to click on your ad, you want your website to also be informative and trustworthy. If you need some ideas, check out our website starter guide.

Ad Design

Before we talk about where you can display your ad, you need to create an ad that is interesting and gets people to take the step you want them to. Using text -only ads, like search engine marketing (which is described in more detail below), doesn’t require any design know-how. It’s a great place to start getting your feet wet in digital marketing because it requires little upfront cost, beside actually paying for the ad space.

On the other hand, if you want ads with unique design features, video or animation, someone with experience in a program like PhotoShop will need to do this work. Some programs such as Canva and Adobe Spark have templates you can use to create your digital ad if you want to try your hand at designing your own.

When designing an ad, even if you are working with a designer, do a little research to understand what the ad can do and how your design can attract the right customers and encourage them to take the next step you want them to. Think about the purpose of your ad. Are you a handyman who wants people to like your Facebook page or add you phone number to their contact list so they call you the next time they need projects done around the house? Is it spring- the perfect time to think about building a new deck or patio, so you want them to make an appointment for an estimate? Or do you provide emergency plumbing services and think your ideal customers is one frantically searching for the right person who can stop the water pouring into their basement right now. Be sure to include your 24-hour phone number so they can call with a simple click on the ad.

If you want to streamline the ad design process, ensure your ad is appealing to the right audience and formatted correctly for the medium, you may want to hire a designer. A small investment in a designer can save you hours of work, trying to figure out if your ad looks and performs the way you want. Many ad designers are happy to work on a freelance basis, creating one or two ads at a time. On sites such as Upwork or Fiverr you can find designers to fit any business budget.

You can find more information on ad design best practices and what to expect when working with an ad designer in our guide.

When you are ready to spend some of your advertising budget on online advertising methods, you’ll also need to decide where you want your ad to appear and how to target your perfect customers. Try some of these types of ads.

Display ads

Display ads are probably what you think about when someone talks about online advertising. These are the image, text or video ads that appear around the actual content of a website. Display ads aren’t on your own website; they are on sites that allow advertising through a partner like Google Display Ads. Display Ads have gotten a bad rap in the past and many browsers include pop-up or ad blockers, meaning fewer people will see these ads. The goal of these blockers is to eliminate bad, obtrusive and spam-like ads. If your ad is thoughtfully designed and targeted, your ads aren’t the ones they will aggressively block. People are also so accustom to seeing banner ads, and they tend to ignore them. Newer technology though gives you more control over who sees your ads and ensure that the audience is curated to those who are actually interested in your service.

Once you create your ad, you will work with a third-party platform like Google Display Network, Facebook Audience Network or Bing (Microsoft) Advertising to establish a budget, determine the demographics of your target audience and where you want it to be displayed. These platforms have automated much of the process to help you get the most out of your advertising budget. Even if you have never purchased digital ad space, these platforms aim to make it a seamless process by helping you determine a reasonable budget and bidding strategy. You can even allow the algorithm do the bidding for you within a predetermined budget.

Display ads can be produced in any number of sizes and shapes. They are a cost effective way to get your brand name out to a wider audience. Everyone recognizes these images as ads. They are obviously trying to get you to click on the “find out more” or “start now” buttons. But if the people seeing the ad are looking for those services, it’s a great way to find new leads. They are ready to be sold to and the return on investment (ROI) for these ads tends to be high.

Native ads

If you have a blog, native ads will make your content more visible to the people who are looking for the kinds of information that you offer. These ads are unobtrusive and aim to expose your content to the people most likely to engage with it and find it useful. Advertisers are using native ads more and more because they are not as abrasive and aggressive as banner ads. These ads don’t even look like ads much of the time. They are designed to look like other content on the page and sometimes are only differentiated by the word “sponsored” somewhere on the ad. These ads are designed to fit in with the rest of the content on a webpage in form and function.

Native ads appear as recommended posts, sponsored content and content that is included in your feed on social sites. You see them often at the bottom of an online article as other related content you may want to read for more information. These ads are actually content pieces such as videos or blog posts that will appeal to the website’s visitors. Creating a native ad is more involved than a banner ad. However, consumers see this as more than advertising. It contains information that is important to them and is not just trying to sell them something.

Partner with other businesses that are related to yours, but not in direct competition. If you install HVAC systems, see if a basement conversion company would be interested in publishing your article about the slimmest systems that will take up little space in a new basement. Their audience may not have been thinking about their HVAC system, but once they see your information, they may contact you about an upgrade while they are working on the space.

This is a great way to reach new audiences that another business has taken the time to build. Be willing to do the same for other businesses so you can grow together. You can also use platforms such as Outbrain to place native ads on relevant webpages.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing works on the same principles as optimizing your website. You focus on key words. These are the words you think your potential customers will type into the search bar when they are searching for your services. This could be broad like “Miami kitchen remodeling” or very specific services like “well drilling through rocky soil.” You also want to bid on branded key words. If your business name consists of commonly used words such as Cincinnati Landscaping, you want your business to appear when those words are Googled. However, more common terms will cost more to secure. Even if your business is very specific, bid on that combination of key words to ensure your business is the first result.

Think about the terms your customers use to describe you services or the problems they are looking to solve. Once you determine the key words you want to use, you’ll bid on them through a platform like Google AdWords. These are text only ads that appear at the top of the page in Google results. You can tell which are search engine marketing ads by the word “AD” at the front of the result. Even though they are labeled as ads, they appear the same way any other search results do on the page AND they are the first results. The higher up the page, the more clicks you will get. Buying ads nearly guarantees that people will see your ad when they search for those words.

Typically your ads will be pay per click or PPC. They can be displayed for a large number of searchers, but you only pay for the impressions when someone actually clicks on the link.

In large markets and metro areas, Google Local Services enables you to target the consumers in your immediate area, searching for the specific services you offer. This specialized ad platform enables you to find highly qualified leads that are likely to contact you in the near future. Check to see if your business is eligible and set up a profile that will let those local to you find your business quickly and easily.


When you visit a website, the site is required to give you the option of accepting or rejecting cookies. These are very small pieces of code that track where you have been online, make advertising more individualized and make pages you have visited before load quicker. When visitors accept or acknowledge the cookies from your site, you can use this information to retarget them in the future.

You know that these searchers have visited your site and are familiar with your business name and services. Following their cookies and using retargeting ads means they are reminded of their interest in your company after they have left your site. This is what happens when you visit a site like Amazon or Lowe’s, looking at a patio set. Later that day, when you are on Facebook, you’ll see an ad for the same patio set. The ad has retargeted you.

The Rule of Seven states that a customer will need to be exposed to you business and products seven times prior to making a purchase. Only 2% of customers buy on their first visit to a site. Retargeting is a method to expose potential customers to your brand multiple times to increase the likelihood of an eventual purchase. It’s also a great investment for your advertising dollars. You know these viewers are interested in your services because they have visited your website before.

Ad managers like Google and Facebook have options that allow you to build retargeting ad campaigns.

Mobile ads

These ads are specifically aimed at users of mobile devices. No matter the style of ad you choose to use, recognize that the majority of people who view your ad with be on mobile devices. Make sure your ad is always optimized for both desktop and mobile sized screens.

Interstitial mobile ads take the whole screen and can be viewed between levels of games, in apps and while website pages load. These types of ads are more intensive to design, but they can be effective because users are forced to look at them for a set number of seconds before they can proceed to the page they were intending.

In-app advertising helps you to target a specific audience. You can buy ad space on an app like Realtor or Roomle 3D and know that your ad is seen by homeowners and those who are actively looking to make changes to their homes. Because most people have their phones with them at all time, managers of mobile ads can create very specific behavioral targets. They can show your ad to people who have visited a Home Depot in the last 30 days or have searched for the newest paint color trends.

Audio Ads

A very new form of advertising is a version of the standard radio ad. Now, instead of buying air time on a station and hoping the right people hear it, you can be more selective by advertising on platforms like Pandora, Amazon Music and Spotify. These audio platforms offer music and podcasts. They know the demographic information about their listeners (like their region) and can help you position your ads to receive the best response.

Searches done by voice are becoming more common. People frequently listen to content on devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. These platforms deliver audio ads between music, at the beginning of games, at set time intervals and more. Because of the demographics and behavioral information stored by these businesses, you ad will be targeted to the audience most likely to take action.

Digital advertising can feel confusing and time-intensive. However, taking the time to learn and understand how these systems work efficiently to bring your relevant content to the right people at the right time makes it worth your investment. Digital advertising is much more precise and offers a better return on investment than traditional print, radio and billboard advertising.

Don’t be afraid to start small with digital ads. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can slowly shift your advertising dollar from less effective methods to digital ads over time. It takes time to see results from your online advertising campaigns, so learning one method at a time is a great way to add to your repertoire.

Learn more about how trades.org makes your business visible online while attracting new customers and retaining loyal customers. We’ll help you find your space online for a successful business marketing strategy.