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Small, medium-sized businesses can find free help

Small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from free help.

It’s easy to be skeptical of free help. However, if you can benefit from learning something new from successful experts such as Google, why not?

Recently, Google announced that it is offering new ways to help businesses. These offerings include a free website analysis and a free — or almost free — service for creating YouTube video ads. With more consumers turning to the web for their research and marketing decisions, in addition to ever-evolving technology, it’s critical for your business to be current.

 

Google website help

Google’s “Test My Site” tool offers a free analysis that scores your website based on mobile speed, mobile-friendliness and desktop speed. These three metrics are important because Google research shows that nine out of 10 people leave a mobile website if it doesn’t perform according to their standards, which is why your website must load quickly and provide the user with a quality experience.

With trends showing increased usage of mobile phones for searches (more than half coming from mobile devices), if your site loads slowly and isn’t easy to use, you could be losing potential customers. In offering Test My Site, Google seeks to deliver what can be technical information in recommendations that you can easily understand and implement to improve your website.

 

YouTube video ads

Traditionally, larger companies have capitalized on Google’s YouTube Video. YouTube now offers a DIY (Do It Yourself) opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses in the hopes that they will advertise with them. Since YouTube now reaches more people ages 18 to 49 on mobile devices than any TV network and since its watch time is up more than 50 percent, it’s hard for a business to resist this advertising option.

Aside from a limited advertising budget, one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses is the lack of quality videos. Google’s YouTube Director is a new, free app that helps businesses with scant marketing budgets create commercials. This new app includes templates such as music and editing tools that are helpful across business sectors.

For example, The Barber Shop Club in Los Angeles used the app for a spot that would coincide with its AdWords campaign. As a result of the YouTube video, Google’s data shows that The Barber Shop had a 73 percent increase in ad recall and nearly 60 percent lift in brand awareness.

In addition to its new app, YouTube offers other services for businesses that don’t have the time or interest to make their own videos. One of these services, for example, uses the company’s logo or screen shots to create videos for that business.

Remember that regardless of your budget, you must have good creative. This is especially important if your ad will have a longer run because you do not want to turn people away due to poor content.

 

Instagram Business Dashboard

Google isn’t the only company trying to help businesses. Instagram’s new and free business dashboard enables advertisers to see impressions, reach and engagement. Built into the mobile app, the dashboard lets you know when users saw posts and allows you to compare those statistics to previous periods.

Instagram has revealed that more than 200,000 businesses use its platform to promote products and services. In addition, the company says about 60 percent of its users learn about products on its platform while roughly 50 percent follow a business.

 

Going forward

For any advertising and marketing campaign to be effective, remember the basics. Have a budget and clearly defined goals. Know your target audience and what content and creative are best suited for them.

Then you can select the most effective advertising and marketing channels that you can measure to ensure you are getting a return on your investment.

 

This column was compiled by Karen Robertson, director of Public Relations and Client Development at Robertson & Markowitz Advertising & Public Relations Inc. She can be reached at karen@robmark.com or 912-921-1040.

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