Guide

Advertising: the basics

Online advertising

Advertising on the internet can be cost-effective and gives national and international coverage that you may otherwise be unable to afford. It will also allow you to compete with larger businesses in your industry on a level playing field. 

Your own website

Your own website can be used to advertise your business:

  • Ensure you design and position your website carefully for maximum effect. Take time over it, it's important. It can be your shop window, an information provider, a sales person and an order form all in one.
  • Consider the user - your potential customer - at every stage. Make it easy for them to find their way around your website, and to order from or contact you. See characteristics of a user-friendly website.
  • Keep your website updated and relevant, and check that all pages, images, links, etc open correctly.
  • Ensure your website is geared towards increasing sales. Making your site interactive and interesting to browse will help to increase user dwell time and allow you to expand your sales pitch.
  • Find out how to exploit search engines, eg Bing or Google. Appearing near the top of a search engine results page can make a big difference.

Using online content to develop relationships with customers is known as content marketing

For more information, see set up a small business website and search engine optimisation (SEO).

Types of online advertising

There are a range of online advertising options that might suit your business:

  • Display advertising ­– banner ads and other kinds of display advertising allow you to place a visual ad on another website that links to yours. Using a display network service can help you reach targeted audiences through a range of selected websites. See what is display advertising
  • Search engine advertising pay per click and paid search advertising helps customers searching for your products and services find you. It is highly targeted and can offer a good return on investment.
  • Social media advertising ­– most social networks offer advertising opportunities allowing businesses to reach a targeted audience. Browse social media.
  • Video on-demand – online streaming and TV catch up services can offer video advertising opportunities to a targeted, engaged audience.