(This post originally appeared on Inc.)
This week both Google and Facebook each introduced two new tools and features to help small advertisers succeed on their platforms.
Google’s features are targeting affinity and seasonal audiences.
Affinity audiences are those consumers who have previously shown a strong interest in the products that a company sells and its new approach aims to increase awareness and drive more business from those people. “For instance,” the company writes . “let’s say you sell camping gear. To reach avid campers, you can pair an affinity audience like “Outdoor Enthusiast” with generic camping keywords. By adding this additional audience layer, you can reach people who are not only searching for camping products, but are also passionate about the great outdoors.” Google says that car-maker Volkswagen used this very approach to achieve a 250 percent increase in its conversion rate when compared to its non-audience traffic.
Google is also going after seasonal customers by adding new features that focus on timely product offerings so that businesses can better reach those people shopping for things like Christmas or Valentine’s Day gifts. The company said that another car-maker, Toyota, leveraged similar features on Black Friday and Christmas to target shoppers who were looking for new cars so that they could target specialized ads to them.
Not to be outdone, Facebook this week has introduced two new tools for their small advertisers and the company is hosting more than 200 training events around the world to help teach how to use them.
The first is a tool to help its more than 140 million business users around the world better customize their stories with more full-screen templates on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. The idea is to allow small business owners do more of this work on their own without having to hire outside consultants.
The company has also enhanced its Instagram Messaging for Businesses so that its smaller business users can leverage artificial intelligence to more easily send instant replies during their busiest times and better organize their messages. This way businesses can “give people more information about their business or let them know their typical response time” and also “set up an away message for when their business is closed or on vacation and create saved replies to answer commonly asked questions.”
Advertising on Google and Facebook can be a daunting task for many small businesses. The algorithms are complex and the competition for eyeballs is pretty fierce. Both companies are trying to figure out ways to make it easier for these customers to succeed on their platforms so that they don’t get discouraged and spend their advertising dollars elsewhere. Hopefully more helpful new features like these will be coming in the not-so-distant future.