Now that you’ve set up your website, social channels and email marketing software, you might be wondering how you get people to find you online. There are two main strategies I will address that will help you widen your audience to attract prospective clients.

The first strategy is search engine marketing, which includes paid search (Google Ads) and display ads. The second is social media advertising, such as targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Before we even start, it’s important to understand the role of search and social media advertising in the world of a service provider. You’re not trying to make a sale with an ad. Instead, ads have the potential to increase visibility for you and your company, to help you find your people, and to enable your people to find you. Furthermore, I’m not saying you should to any of these things, but if you’ve been thinking about it, this piece is meant to educate you on the most common approaches.

What is Paid Search?

Paid search marketing is known in the marketing and advertising industry by many different names (and abbreviations).

Search engine marketing (SEM, which can include SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), search engine advertising, sponsored listings… the list goes on. And that’s before you start to involve the names of specific advertising programs and ad types, such as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), Google Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping Ads, Google Remarketing and Bing Ads.

digital marketing for service providers

Paid search can be a great complement to organic SEO because it sends more people to your site, which improves your organic rankings and also helps you convert visitors into customers. In real terms, it can help your “people”, your ideal client, find you!

Basically, you are paying Google (or other search engines) to put your ad at the top of the search page when people type in the keywords you are paying for. You only pay when they click on your ad.

Here is a search I did for “small business coaching”. You will recognize paid ads because they say “ad” right in the listing. Sometimes you will see “sponsored” instead.

Display Ads

In addition to these common textual ads, you can also use remarketing display ads, which are visual. These types of ads utilize the cookies that websites use to track visitors and serve them ads on other websites. In the example below, you will see an ad for Amazon I received when I was looking at the New York Times website, displayed to me because I had visited my Amazon account earlier in the day. These ads are meant to show people a special offer so that they click on the ad – in this case a one-month free trial of the Amazon Prime Video service.

digital marketing for service providers

What are Social Ads?

Social ads can mean two things: Boosted Posts and Targeted Ads. For example, you can boost popular Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn posts so that they reach more people than are already following you on those channels. You can target these boosted posts using audience demographics you create based on what you know about your ideal client or customer. The goal of a Boosted Post is to increase awareness and engagement on your page or group, and with your brand.

You can also create Targeted Social Media Ads. These are useful when you have created a very specific product or service offering targeted to very specific audiences. It helps to have a goal for these ads. Do you want people to click on a link that leads to your website or an offer landing page, to engage with your social media channel or just to increase awareness of your offer and your brand? These types of ads let you set these specific goals and then tracks how well your ad performs.

For example, if you create a webinar to talk to people about a specific issue your service addresses, a well-framed social media ad for your webinar could help you attract people outside your current circle of fans.

digital marketing for service providers

This is an example of a Facebook Ad. Notice that there are few words on the image, as Facebook limits text to 20% of the image you are using. This offer is also very simple, with a button CTA (call to action) that encourages you to click to get the free sample.

This is a just quick overview of some practical marketing tools you can use to find and reach “your people” and there is still a lot more to digital marketing than I’ve covered here. If you are interested in an audit of your current strategy or would like to talk about execution or next steps, please reach out and I will be happy to chat.