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10 ways to grow your small business online and how much should you spend on online marketing?

From affiliate marketing to online classifieds, there are many ways to build your business online. Here’s a look at ten popular online marketing options.

Local listing and classifieds
Create your business listings on listings sites such as Google Maps and other local business directories to ensure that consumers searching for nearby businesses find yours. Some listings allow you to promote offers such as sales and new products. Customers review sites are basically local directories like Yelp that allow users to express their opinion about business.

Search advertising
Search advertising is a method of placing online ads on search engine results pages. With AdWords and/or adCenter you could deliver a targeted message at the right moment (when someone searches for a product or services you offer). Choose keywords that relate as closely as possible to your offering so you receive the likely prospects. For CPC ads, you pay only when someone clicks on your ad.

Contextual ads
Contextual advertising takes display ads to the next level, by placing your ads on sites related to your offerings; for example if you sell green products, your ads may perform better on health and dieting sites.

Display ads
Great ad campaigns start with great ads. And with the Google Display Network, you can advertise in a variety of formats and sizes with text ads, static and animated image ads, rich media and video ads. If you don’t have the budget or creativity to design you own ads, you could use Google AdWords display ad builder. You can also distribute your display ad via networks and ad management systems.

Geo-targeting
Geo-targeting simple means advertising to prospects in a specific location, which could be very useful, for an example if you have a pizza store and you only deliver within your neighbourhood or city.

Group buying
Connect with new customers through programs that offer multiple buyers collective purchasing deals. There are many popular group buying sites such as Groupon, livingsocial and much more

Mobile marketing
Many Smartphone and mobile devices provide web browsing, GPS, cameras and video capabilities. This means you can develop creative promotions with text messages and location-based social networks.

Social networking sites
Cultivate new business through social networking sites where members share stories and recommend products and services.

Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing lets you get other businesses to drive prospects to your website. Some affiliate may allow you to set up a store on their domains, such as comparison shopping sites.

Online videos
Reach new audiences by posting videos on video sharing sites. The best videos tend to be short (less than 3 minutes) and have an offer, such as product discount to motivate viewers to take action.

How much should you spend on online marketing?

The amount varies by industry, business size and how much you want to grow your business. The Small Business Administration and SCORE put it between 2% and 10% of sales.

Depending on your business model, you could spend half of your marketing budget on offline (print ads, brochures, telemarketing ) and half on online (search engine marketing, display ads, mobile). The more online oriented your business is, the more you should consider increasing your online spending. Your return on investment (ROI) will depend on your offer and who you reach out to current customers or prospects.

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