Ad personalization enables you to reach audiences based on their interests. This means you can both communicate and spend marketing dollars more effectively. You can show ads to your audience based on their online activity, such as the websites they visit, the products they view, and the apps they install. 

This kind of efficiency is a boon to small businesses. 87% of small businesses rely on advertising to maintain their current level of success and grow. Successful marketing requires your audience seeing your product in different places at different times to become top of mind. This reinforces not only the existence of your brand but also its desirability. 

Small businesses prefer digital advertising and the stats don’t lie: 

  • 64% advertise on social media 
  • 49% advertise online 
  • 36% use print advertising
  • 22% advertise on TV

The ad personalization possible with digital advertising enables small businesses to: 

  • Use increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to maintain a personal touch and still be able to scale
  • Reach targeted audiences already interested in their products
  • Spend where it counts and increase their ROI
  • Reach local audiences and drive them to a local store or event

How Ad Personalization Drives Small D2C Businesses

Ad personalization is a must-use tool for direct-to-consumer (D2C) small businesses. D2C businesses are more focused on the overall customer experience than traditional retailers. Ad personalization is important in reaching their customers and keeping them coming back. A recent survey found that U.S. Internet users were most likely to hear about the first D2C brand they purchased via social media ads (34.6%). The next most popular channel was online search at 24.8%. Almost six out of ten Internet users converted to buyers after first encountering a D2C brand on these channels.

Social Media Sharing

Social media ad personalization can give high returns for B2C and D2C businesses. Not only can you reach customers who are interested in your product, but they can share your ads with family and friends, becoming your unofficial brand ambassadors. Social media sharing extends your reach with no additional cost to you.

Social media can be a real boon to small, local businesses. Through ad personalization, businesses can reach out to their local communities on Facebook and other social media with event invitations, comments on local news, and special offers. The most popular social media channels that small businesses use to advertise are

  • Facebook: 86%
  • YouTube: 51% 
  • Instagram: 47%
  • Twitter 41%

Search Ads to Reach Those Actively Searching for Products

Google search ads (and other search ads to a lesser extent) are a favorite of online advertisers because your audience sees your ad when they’re actively looking for your products or products similar to yours. In fact, Google search is the preferred advertising channel for small businesses. 53% of small businesses advertising online are using Google search ads. This makes sense because consumers are searching on Google when they are researching a product or ready to buy. Google search ads are also straightforward to track, which helps small businesses budget for the kinds of ads that work best for them.

Display and Video Ads

In addition to search ads, businesses also use display ads and video ads to target their customers.

  • Banner ads: 37% 
  • Video ads: 30% 
  • Retargeted ads: 28% 
  • Influencer ads: 24% 
  • Native ads: 24%

Personalized Email

Personalized email is hardly new, but it’s still a critical marketing channel for small businesses. Of course, it gets harder and harder every year to get people to open your email, much less act on it. A personal email with engaging content is going to be a lot more useful than a generic email. Also, your customers are much more likely to open your email if they remember who you are, and one way to remind them is through ad personalization. Once you have someone’s email, perhaps through signing up for a download on your site, you can target them with personalized email campaigns in combination with personalized ad campaigns. 

Ad Retargeting

Retargeting enables you to remind your customers of your products and services even if they leave your website without buying. It’s a strong use of ad personalization. With dynamic retargeting, you can even show prospects ads that feature the very products they viewed on your website.  Retargeting works with in-app advertising and search advertising as well as website banner advertising and video advertising.

Small businesses shouldn’t waste money advertising to people who aren’t interested in products like theirs and are unlikely to be interested in the future. Today’s ad tech is making it easier and more cost-effective for small businesses to compete with larger ones by reaching their target audiences with personalized, relevant messaging. People are getting used to seeing ads that are relevant to them, and generic ads are unlikely to be very effective.

Optimizing Creative with Automated Testing and Machine Learning

Machine learning has recently made great strides in helping businesses send the best possible creative to their audiences. 

Google Responsive Search Ads

Google introduced Responsive Search Ads in 2018, and they’re a game-changer in ad personalization that takes the final leap in doing away with tedious, time-consuming, and expensive manual A/B testing. It used to be that you had to write an ad with a headline and description in one static ad text. If you wanted to test combinations, you had to create and run new ads. Now, with Responsive Search Ads, you can create up to fifteen different headlines and up to four different descriptions. 

Google will automatically test these headlines and descriptions in various combinations and learn which combinations perform best. Artificial intelligence technology tests which messages, features, and benefits catch the attention of different audiences and move them to convert. As Responsive Search Ads gather more data, the server sends the best combinations to your audience depending on their individual proclivities such as the searches they made, the devices they are using, and their browsing history. Responsive Search Ads enable even small businesses to test thousands of combinations to optimize their message to each individual according to their marketing goal. 

Facebook’s Multiple Text Optimization

In October 2019, Facebook introduced Multiple Text Optimization. It enables you to create many versions of headlines, ad copy and descriptions for single-media ads. Then, like Google’s Responsive Search Ads, it sends the best combination to your audience. You can test many kinds of ads very quickly. The benefits and downside are similar to those of using Google’s Responsive Search Ads.

Small Businesses Are in It to Win It

The strides that have been made in ad personalization in recent years enable small businesses to compete with larger companies and grow because artificial intelligence removes a lot of the guesswork and reduces the hours spent manually testing and retesting creative. Yet, at the same time automation increases, so does personalization. We can only expect artificial intelligence and machine learning to play an increasing role in enabling small businesses to better communicate on a personal level with their customers. 

Angie Tran
Author

Angie is the Senior Copywriter at AdRoll. Prior to AdRoll, she was a Content Writer at various digital marketing agencies. A writer by day and a reader by night, Angie’s other hobbies include cooking and learning useless movie trivia.