Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

When Twitter Ads first appeared they were well out of reach for most SMEs and not-for-profit organisations. It was a managed service and the minimum spend was roughly £5,000 per month. However, this all changed when Twitter ads were rolled out as a self-service platform towards the end of 2013 and, since then, SMEs have started to reap the benefits.

Today, there is no minimum spend and with a budget of only a few pounds per day it’s possible to reach your target audience, start building relationships with potential customers and further develop your relationships with existing customers. To help you make the most of this opportunity, we’ve put together these 4 tips to get you started.

1.  Set a goal

The first step is always to consider what you want to achieve. Are you looking to build your community of followers, drive traffic to your website or a specific piece of content, generate leads or engage your customers?

There are specific options set out for each of these so you can really focus your efforts accordingly.

2.  Target the right audience

Engaging users on Twitter will only impact your organisation if they’re the right users. For instance, if you’re a local business based in Manchester then there’s not much benefit to advertising your product to Twitter users in Brighton. Likewise, if most of your customers are women, why would you want to pay to advertise to men?

Twitter lets you pinpoint exactly who sees your adverts based on location, gender, their interests, people they follow and keywords they use. So if you’re target customer is Mums, it might be a good idea to show your ads to users that are following @MumsNetTowers or @WorkingMums.

If you want to take things to the next level, it’s also possible to target your existing email database or visitors to your website, but we’ll leave that for another day.

3.  Choose the right content

The content of your tweets will vary quite considerably depending on your goals. If you’re looking for new followers then you’ve got 140 characters to tell them (or show them) why they should follow you, so make sure you’re offering them something valuable. Likewise, if you’re trying to generate retweets or replies then try including a compelling image.

Tip: If you’re running a ‘promoted account’ campaign to gain more followers, don’t include images or hashtags in your promoted tweets. They distract users away from the all-important ‘follow’ button.

4.  Measure the results and adapt

When you start a new Twitter advertising campaign, it’s best to select 4 or 5 different tweets and run them simultaneously. After a few days, you’ll be able to see which tweets are performing the most effectively. You can then improve your campaign by turning off the least effective adverts and creating some new ones to replace them. Over time, your ads should become more and more effective.

Similarly, you can also analyse and optimise your targeting. Your campaign results will show you loads of actionable data, such as whether your adverts have been more successful with men or women. If you’re targeting users that follow other accounts then it will also show you which accounts are delivering the best results. To return to our earlier example, it may be that it costs you £1 per follow when targeting the followers of @MumsNetTowers, but only £0.40 when targeting the followers of @WorkingMums. In that instance, perhaps it would be more cost-effective to remove @WorkingMums from your targeting.

Final thoughts

The fact that there is no minimum spend means that this is well worth a try. There’s a big opportunity for SMEs and not-for-profits to reach their target audience and build genuine relationships with them.

Have you had success with Twitter advertising? Can we help? Let us know in the comments or reach out to us on Twitter – @CTCTUK