There are major marketing fails like the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad or the aforementioned Burger King UK tweet, but for the sake of our small business-friendly guide, we’re going to share some smaller ones that you can learn from.
google ads countdown timer
youtube live example
Angela Blakenship from earlier called her experiments with Amazon DSP a “significant failure.” The ad linked back to her company’s website—not Amazon. And so it yielded “quite a number of clicks,” but not conversions.

The best of small business PPC

Many of the ad, email, and social media strategies in this post could fall under this category, but we’ve reserved it for two content types: webinars and blog posts.

1. Countdown ads

Different PPC channels often call for different ad copy or even different KPIs
We often get so familiar with the campaigns we’re building that we forget to test them out from the shoes of our audience. In Angela’s case, running the ad was the test—so we wouldn’t call this a failure altogether. But if you’re going to try out a new ad network, poke around on that network to get a feel for what the ad experience is like there so you can align with expectations.

How to apply it

So we sought out to come up with a more practical best-and-worst round-up for small businesses. No, you won’t see any new ice cream flavors in here, but you will find plenty of simple tactics that yielded very gratifying results—plus how you can apply them yourself.

  • Super-specific CTAs
  • Risk-averse payment language
  • Pre-suasion

2. Target CPA + location targeting

Jeff Moriarty, creative manager at jewelry retailer Moriarty’s Gem Art, said the brand tried out a live show on YouTube this year, which resulted in more than 1,500 viewers and ,000 in sales. Now, the retailer hosts live streams once a month. Its Black Friday stream resulted in ,000 in sales. They plan to continue this strategy in 2022.
“I was aware that cold, impersonal emails would just be ineffective. Therefore, we made an attractive, trendy template and personalized each email for every customer segment,” she said. “Not only was it attractive in our eyes, but our sales also increased substantially after cold emailing.”
These roundups are entertaining and have their takeaways, but from a small business standpoint, they’re not very useful.

How to apply it

Ahlgren said the moral of the story is “as long as you love what you do, you’ll build communities around your work and it will always be fruitful.”

  • First, a local strategy is key to any business, even those with global reach, so make sure you know the ins and outs of Google Ads location targeting.
  • Notice that Thorsch measured offline sales. In our recent Google Ads updates roundup, we cover Google’s new OCI helper tool (offline conversion import). Check it out!

To help you out in this area, here are some resources:

3. Promotion extensions

The brand actually had better success on Facebook, which allows advertisers to target more specific audiences and refine even further later. That being said, Peterson noted an early Facebook campaign focused on web design, which is an easily understandable topic for even consumers who aren’t tech-savvy, did not generate any real leads. A second campaign on Atiba’s larger offerings with more broad messaging had better results.
Kyle McCorkel, owner of Safe Home Offer, a marketing company specializing in finding off-market real estate deals, said the strategy with the best ROI has been direct mail, even if it seems “a little old school.”

How to apply it

geico's scoop there it is ice cream
Darshan Somashekar, CEO of game site I’m a Puzzle, said he uses online tools to identify potential influencers who can create user-generated content (UGC). The brand gives away products in exchange for video reviews and testimonials. It also has a collaboration program in which influencers give access to their Facebook and/or Instagram pages to advertise their content.
You can use LOCALiQ’s Free Online Presence Grader to get a read on your web, social, and ad presence as well as how you compare to competitors. LOCALiQ free online presence grader screenshot

The best of small business video marketing

facebook ads for events

4. YouTube live

The blog post is now ranked #2 in Google search and is read by 200 to 500 visitors each month.
influencer finder tool example
Vitamin and supplement retailer My Supplement Store wanted to increase its SMS subscribers before the holidays, so it created a campaign that taps into the popularity of Squid Game, which was streamed for nearly 1.7 billion hours in its first 28 days. In each order placed by a customer who was not already an SMS subscriber, the brand included a business card that looked like the cards used in the Netflix show with a number to text.

How to apply it

instagram giveaway example

5. Video targeting tools + influencers

Running a giveaway on Instagram is easier than you think. You can try contest types like tag a friend, like to win, post and tag, and repost and tag. We also have a comprehensive guide on how to run an Instagram giveaway to help ensure your success.
The brand used the journalism resource site Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to find more than 100 experts to interview. Questions included how to share and deal with negative feedback.

How to apply it

Nick Thorsch, founder of, a platform that encourages entrepreneurs to think sustainably, said he helped scale revenue for a storage container brand from million to million with a campaign that set out to push higher-margin metal containers and refrigerated containers via Google Shopping ads.
And of course, personalization is now a standard in marketing, but the ways to do it are always evolving. We have a few helpful resources for personalizing your emails:

  • Know your audience! Pixelstorm was successful because it had its personas nailed down and knew which influencers were relevant to its audience.

The best of small business SMS marketing

And of course, personalization is now a standard in marketing, but the ways to do it are always evolving. We have a few helpful resources for personalizing your emails:
And of course, personalization is now a standard in marketing, but the ways to do it are always evolving. We have a few helpful resources for personalizing your emails:

How to apply it

And of course, personalization is now a standard in marketing, but the ways to do it are always evolving. We have a few helpful resources for personalizing your emails:
Tap into the power of event marketing. We have a list of creative, brand-building event marketing ideas to give you some inspiration. Whatever you choose, consider boosting attendance with Facebook ads.
Whether you use a list of addresses you’ve collected in your marketing efforts or a third-party tool, you can create professional, eye-catching postcards super easily in Canva. Choose from hundreds of customizable templates and get started.

How to apply it

Amy Wampler, marketing manager of HVAC service provider Spartan Mechanical, conceded the company faced some financial constraints due to a dip in sales during the pandemic. That’s in part why they opted to try an email campaign.

The “worst” in small business marketing

He attributes this success to name recognition when consumers he has mailed see his brand and “remember it when they’re googling to find a solution to their home-selling problem.”

17. A social media ad mishap

Melanie Bedwell, ecommerce manager for DTC soda brand Olipop, said the brand launched a giveaway on Instagram in partnership with reusable bag brand Stasher. Each offered 0 in prizes to followers of the brands who tagged friends in the post.
Thorsch asked sales reps to report the click ID back to Google to measure offline sales. He then expanded to Bing with a similar strategy.

How to avoid it

The result was a 20% increase in SMS subscribers. Anderson noted customers loved the creativity, “emailing us how much they enjoyed it.”
Canva postcard templates. Do it.

18. An Amazon ad oversight

We show you how to use countdown customizers in Google Ads here. On a broader note, urgency is the tried-and-true element of any good marketing campaign. Check out our 13 urgency-inducing tricks to drive sales, which include:
“We believe this happened because viewers were expecting to be led to Amazon and not our website,” she added.

How to avoid it

“The results were better than what I could have even imagined in my wildest dreams,” Foley said. “Because of these tremendous results, it is still running to this day.”
Facebook groups are an age-old feature of the platform, but still an effective social media marketing tactic to this day. In fact, in LOCALiQ’s roundup of social media marketing trends for 2021, Facebook groups is #2. Check out the post to learn how to build a community that has a positive impact while also driving your marketing goals.

19. LinkedIn adsfor B2B (what?!)

Offline marketing is considered “traditional” marketing but it is no less important than digital marketing.
Image source

How to avoid this mistake

“We are positively obsessed with small businesses and we do go out of our way on our website to help people learn how they can brew their coffee, so our marketing officer suggested this as a content marketing and engagement strategy,” said Founder Mathias Ahlgren.
“It may seem counterintuitive to give out your knowledge when what you want is for them to come to you instead,” Sells said. “However, helping and providing value helps build trust and converts mere audiences into loyal customers.”
practical social media post ideas
entrepreneur hustle facebook group

20. Automation backfiring

Daniel Foley, marketing specialist at vaping site 88Vape, tried out promotion extensions on Google to grab visitors’ attention by highlighting exclusive deals under 88Vape’s ads. And while he wasn’t expecting much, within a few weeks, sales of promoted items increased as much as 60%.
 Image source

How to avoid this mistake

Different prospecting strategies work for different businesses. Brett had a very specific opportunity here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your own. There are a number of tools out there for competitive analysis that can help with this. Either way, the key is to monitor your competitors’ websites, social media profiles, and ads and be on the lookout for details.
No, the answer is not to stop advertising on LinkedIn. But the takeaway is that when you have a cross-channel advertising strategy, you need to do your testing to see which types of offers work best on each channel. Perhaps Atiba’s broader ad worked better on Facebook not just because of the targeting abilities, but because it was more top-of-funnel.

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