For many businesses, online advertising has become the advertising platform of choice. A recent study by Pew Research Center estimates that revenue from online advertising will have increased by as much as 40% from 2011. With increasing competition online, it’s becoming an unfortunate truth that many small businesses are getting overlooked.

It’s important to remember that online marketing is only one element in the first step of a marketing funnel strategy. Whether you are using, or thinking about using, search engine marketing (such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads) or social media marketing, you need to make sure you are using their diverse features to get the most out of your budget.

Below are a few tips to help you get the most out of your online advertising campaigns.

Use Google AdWords Features

Google AdWords is a very robust platform with a number of different useful features, and with all the recent updates, there may be a few that you are unaware of.

Site Links

One of the most beneficial features is one called “site links.” These let you include up to four additional links to your website at the bottom of your ad. These links can add value to each ad by giving a user direct links to specific pages. Some examples could include, “Sign Up,” “Contact Us,” or “Services.”

Typically, when you add site links to your ads, you will see a boost in your click-through-rates (CTR) because implementing these features increases the size of your ads, giving them a better chance of catching a user’s eye.

Create Your Negative Keyword List

This may be a new term for some people reading this. Negative keywords are predetermined by you as a business owner to prevent these search engine ads from showing for a completely irrelevant search. For example, if you do not offer something free (such as a free sample or a free consultation), then the last thing you want is for people to click on your ad and go to your website, expecting something free. If a user clicks on your ad, that click costs you money for what will most likely be an immediate exit from the website (also called a “bounce”) and a zero return. That is why the term “free” should be included as one of your negative keywords.

Google provides various tools to help you determine negative keywords. You can look through your Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, or the Negative Keyword Tool from Wordstream, all of which are free.

Keyword Matching Types

There are 4 different types of keyword matching options, each of which help you control which searches can trigger your add to show for a user.

Broad Match – Your ad may show if a search term contains your keyword terms in any order, and possibly along with other terms. Your ads can also show for synonyms, misspellings and close variations of your keywords.

Broad Match Modifier – You can add a modifier, the plus sign (+), to any of the terms that are part of your broad match keyword phrase. By adding a modifier, your ads can only show when someone’s search contains those modified terms, or close variations of the modified terms, in any order.

Phrase Match – With phrase match, your ad can show when someone searches for your exact keyword, or your exact keyword with additional words before or after it. Google will also show your ad when someone searches for close variations of that exact keyword, or with additional words before or after it.

Exact Match – With exact match, your ads can appear only when someone searches for your exact keyword, without any other terms in the search. Google will also show your ad when someone searches for close variations of that specific keyword.

Auction Insights

Auction InsightsThis feature allows you to see value metrics such as who is bidding on the same keywords that you are, as well as their performance compared to you. You can select all of your keywords, or choose to view how specific keywords are doing, then click on details in the navigation bar and under “Auction Insights,” click all (as illustrated to the right).

After you click “all” you will be presented with useful data, including the average position of your ad, but pay close attention to all of the metrics this screen presents because they are clear indicators of how you are doing.

Those are just a few of the many features you can explore, and most of these useful features are free to use and easy to set up.

Take Advantage of Remarketing

Remarketing is a feature that lets you reach people who have previously visited your website and remind them of your business when they visit other websites. With this feature, when a user visits your website, they will be added to your Google AdWords account remarketing list. Once they leave your website for another (the website they go to must be on Google’s Display Network), then your business’s ads will appear on those other sites. While in a marketing funnel strategy, this would actually be listed in the third step of ongoing communication, it’s an important tactic to point out as these ads are extremely effective in bringing people back to your website.

Define Your Facebook Ad Targets

When creating ads on Facebook, make sure you are taking advantage of the extremely in-depth targeting Facebook offers. The more targeted your ads are, the better the chances are they will be successful. The platform allows you to choose targeting options that dive in far deeper than just age and gender.

Demographic Targeting

Facebook allows you to target people based on a number of demographics, and some marketers refer to this as “broad targeting.” You can target people based on their relationship status, education level, job titles, income and net worth, ethnic affinity, and political views, to name a few. This allows you to establish the base for your target audience.

Interest Targeting

With interest targeting, you can go even further into who you want to see your ads. Facebook has many predetermined categories you can choose from that define your audience, like people who have an interest in football.

Attach Images to Your Facebook Calls-to-Action

One of the best ways to attract a user’s eye is with images. When you need to get people to follow through on a call-to-action, add an image to it. It’s always a best practice to experiment with different factors, such as the call-to-action itself, type of image, time of day if it’s a post to your business page, or different copy for your ads. According to Pew, images that include a person perform better than simply a company’s logo.

Determining what your overall goals will be for an online marketing campaign is essential. These goals will be different based on each business. Most likely, when you sit down and set goals, you will probably find that you have established multiple goals. Make sure you keep track of what they are so you can measure your success. Most importantly, however, when you reach these initial goals, set new ones so your business can continue to improve and grow.