Pay-per-click options like Yelp and Google Adwords may seem cheap up front, but it’s best to understand what you’re getting into before you hand over your credit card information to buy ad views. Read how much affordable advertising really costs and how to maximise your marketing budget.

Pay-per-click options like Yelp and Google Adwords may seem cheap up front, but it’s best to understand what you’re getting into before you hand over your credit card information to buy ad views. Read how much affordable advertising really costs and how to maximise your marketing budget.

 

How Much Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Actually Costs

How does PPC work? You create an ad online and pay a small amount each time someone clicks on it. Depending on how large of an audience you want to reach and how popular your business’ category is, you could pay more or less for each click. Other companies bid on this ad space, so set bid limits on your ads and resist the urge to keep increasing your limit because a competitor bumped your ad.

Paying for clicks through services like Google Adwords or Yelp is actually complicated to determine your return on investment (ROI). You can pour hundreds of dollars into an ad campaign – paying for dozens of visits to your website – and only convert a handful of sales. Unless you have a stellar website and attractive products, you might be disappointed to find that PPC ads aren’t very effective for your business. And even if you do, some sites like Yelp make it especially difficult to track the ROI of your Yelp ads.

This method can be even less effective for small businesses that aren’t ecommerce-based. It is nearly impossible to track how many customers eat at your restaurant because they saw your ad. You’ll need to get creative. For example, many restaurants offer free products or a coupon for checking in on Yelp.

More Advertising Alternatives

Whether you’re ready to invest the money and test PPC ads or you’ve decided it isn’t the best option for your small business, here are some alternatives to popular PPC ad campaigns. See which options are manageable for you, try them out, and analyze the most effective advertising strategy for your unique business.

  • Local community boards: Tacking up flyers in local coffee shops, cafes, and libraries are an easy way to advertise your business for little to no money. Use this space to promote events, contests, sales, and coupons your small business is offering.
  • Micro influencers: We’ve written before about how you can utilize social influencers to promote your small business, and this method is only getting more popular. Read our blog post for more information, but the main idea is that you can pay people who have influence over others to promote your business for a small fee or free products.
  • Business Directories: While not strictly considered ads, getting your business listed in online and local directories is an effective way to increase brand awareness and attract customers. Popular sites such as Yelp are good places to start, and consider looking into chambers of commerce and local business directories.
  • Guerilla marketing: Using covert methods of advertising is gaining in popularity and notoriety. While we do not recommend following big brands’ in illegal and ethically ambiguous stunts, there are still effective and inexpensive ways your business can use guerilla marketing. Try sidewalk chalk, wall murals (with permission from the property owner),  creative decals, paying for someone’s coffee and handing them a business card, etc. Always consult your legal advisor before executing any guerilla marketing campaigns.

 

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org.  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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