Powering up SMEs in the world of digital advertising

By Tina Aird, below, Advertising SMB Lead, UK and Nordics, Microsoft Advertising 

As the world continues to progress to a digital-first economy, many SMBs have been pushed to develop an online strategy. As we now move forward in a landscape where hybrid work is here to stay, consumers have grown to expect a seamless hybrid shopping experience. SMBs must continue to invest in their digital presence to ensure they are well-positioned in the battleground for limited consumer attention.

Consumers are spending more time online and recent research shows that a whopping 63% would regularly make purchase decisions during the workday. The Workday Consumer unapologetically switches between employee and online consumer modes. Having a digital advertising strategy is no longer an advantage but a necessity for SMBs to navigate the fierce competition businesses are facing and, ultimately, drive up sales. Despite this real need for a digital-first strategy, 40% of SMB owners are still struggling to get support on how to make the most out of their digital channels. With the looming recession ahead, there is even more pressure on small business owners to maximise their return on ad spend (ROAS). Urgent support is needed to help SMBs navigate the digital landscape to fully embrace recovery and growth opportunities.

Result-driven advertising for any budget 

When it comes to advertising, its association with high-cost and nationwide TV campaigns still leaves many SMBs battling with the stigma that all advertising solutions are beyond their budget and would yield a lower conversion rate for their demographic.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is one of the most common digital advertising solutions that can help SMBs break into the advertising landscape. Paying only when each time a user clicks on an ad, PPC solutions offer businesses a result-driven alternative that prioritises conversion rate and cost-efficiency. Through strategically refining keywords, geographic location, and device, small businesses can optimise their marketing budget by only targeting the customers who are most likely to make a purchase. Many PPC providers offer solutions tailored to SMBs, with no mandatory spending threshold – making advertising truly accessible for businesses of any size and budget.

To further reduce cost and maximise the conversion from click to purchase, businesses can also utilise multimedia ads to include product details such as images and pricing to communicate key information. This encourages customers to make more informed decisions before clicking through an ad, further maximising the return on ad spend per click.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Fine-tuning conversion funnels through data-driven insights 

Adopting digital advertising not only lowers the cost of entry for small businesses, but also empowers them with insights into their customers – vital for long-term growth and success.

For those without a team of IT specialists or data scientists at hand, digital advertising platforms can make it easier for small businesses to make use of their campaign data. With performance metrics readily available, businesses can spot new customer segmentation and purchase trends specific to their own demographic. Many digital advertising campaign management platforms are also enhanced by AI-enabled analytics, which in turn can allow small business owners to gain clarity on their business data, make informed decisions and optimise conversion funnels accordingly.

Do more with less amidst economic slow-down  

As the cost-of-living starts to bite, businesses need to ensure their advertising and online approaches are flexible enough to adapt to the climate. Investing in smart campaigns could be a great place to start for SMBs navigating the current economic slow-down – helping them to achieve more with less.

Powered by advanced AI algorithms, smart campaigns are designed to be accessible and easy to set up. Simply by inputting your budget and advertising goals, the platform can take care of your campaign in the background. Responding to the real-time ad traffic and how customers are engaging with your ads, smart campaigns use real time data to optimise and refine key words. By automating the management process, SMBs can ensure their campaign strategy is truly responsive without needing a whole team of digital advertising experts.

As businesses continue to face economic headwinds, digital advertising provides the much-needed flexibility and customisability. In turn, allowing businesses of any scale to embrace advertising and reap the benefits in their sales and marketing. Embracing digital advertising solutions tailored to each business’s unique budget and needs can better position SMBs to compete with larger players.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024