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5 Things To Consider Before Starting Your Online Advertising Campaign

Advertising Online

What can’t be measured can’t be improved

Keyword research can make or break the campaign

Look at the bigger picture: aim for conversions instead of click-through rates

Paid Online Advertising can be extremely effective. With the right approach, you can drive hundreds if not thousands of visitors to your site and benefit from highly sophisticated targeting algorithms. But starting a paid advertising campaign is like stepping into dangerous waters because there are too many unknowns and very little control over the costs.

So how much does it cost to advertise on the internet? The answer to that question really depends on you and how well you track your ROI and the quality of leads. Businesses often spend fortunes on paid ads only to find out that leads generated as a result are not good enough for the type of product on sale. You end up with leads that don’t have budgets for your product or leads that are looking to buy products you don’t sell.

Paid advertising is a powerful tool for lead generation, but like any other tool, it needs to be used with a masterful precision and attention to detail. Here are 5 things to consider before launching a paid advertising campaign:

Keywords are not made equal

Paid Ads are created and displayed based on chosen keywords. When the user enters a search query into a search bar he’s presented with an array of advertising messages that correspond to his query. When choosing keywords for your ads you want to target high volume and low competition keywords, that are highly relevant to your product. Only then will you be able to weed out low-quality leads and outpace the competition. Such keywords are very hard to come by.

Moreover, Google Adwords (the main keyword research tool for advertisers) aims to coerce you into betting on the most expensive and broad keywords, simply because that’s how Google makes profit.

Your goal is, however, to pick specific keywords that people use to search for you and your product. One specific keyword might have low search volume but combined with other similar keywords they can form a significant body of volume.

These keywords are called “long-tail keywords”. For example, “digital marketing” is a general keyword that has huge search volumes and high competition, whilst “digital marketing agency in Seattle” is a long tail keyword, that has low volumes and is more specific to your audience and your product.

People who are just starting in PPC and SEO advertising often make a mistake of choosing top keywords offered by Google. The consequences of this mistake are inflated costs and low ROI. In terms of ROI you’re much better off targeting a bunch of low volume long tail keywords, than targeting a few high volume terms.

To find long tail keywords, think about your customer and try to put yourself into customer shoes. You want to nail down exact search phrases that come to mind when a customer is looking for your product.

Another way to find long tail keywords is to use the suggestions that Google features at the bottom of the search page as well as phrases that appear in the drop down menu of the Google search bar.

Understand PPC advertising formats

What are the types of advertising you can use? For advertising campaign to work well you need to understand what mediums exist and how you can leverage them effectively. There are two major types of online advertisements:

Banner Ads

Banner Ads are usually used to attract customers who are not looking for anything specific. The success of banner ads depends on their size, design and colors, and interactive elements. Banner Ads make your message truly stand out in the sea of information because they present information in a visually compelling format.

Banner Ads have a bad reputation mainly because their effectiveness is defined by a weird combination of qualitative and quantitive factors. While quantitative factors can be easily measured, marketers don’t really know how to optimize the creative value of this format of online advertisement. Banners have to be eye catching and personalized, they have to tell the story and have an emotional appeal, which is hard to pull off in design and copywriting considering the small size of a banner.

Text Ads

Text Ads are ads in a text format that are displayed on top of the page along with the rest of search results. Text ads are extremely effective because they can be set to appear in front of customers who have strong intentions to buy the product, however for text ads to work you need to conduct an extensive keyword research and know your target audience really well.

Choose your medium

PPC advertising is not restricted to Google Search only. There are tons of other platforms you can use. Here are some of best places to advertise online:

  • Google Adwords – Google offers both types of ads: banner ads and text ads. Google Adwords is an obvious choice for many marketers since it will display your ads in the most powerful search engine in the world. Yet, if your target audience is based in foreign countries, you might want to consider regional search engines.
  • Bing and Yahoo – since these two platforms have a smaller user base, they’re a perfect choice for start ups with limited budgets. There is less competition and the overall ROI is better.
  • Facebook and LinkedIn. Everyone is on social media these days, and with the ability of social networks to truly engage the users and display information in a highly visual format, social media ads present a great opportunity for marketers. Apart from free website advertising on your company page, you can choose to display text and image based ads and also promote posts.
  • StumbleUpon. It’s a proven fact that the amount of content produced these days greatly exceeds users’ capacity to consume it. For your content to stand out, you need to implement right distribution strategies. StumbleUpon offers unique options for advertising online, that allow you to distribute content to platform users.
  • BuySellAds. If you want to place ads on specific sites or blogs, you can either approach site owners directly or purchase ads through BuySellAds. BuySellAds knows how to sell ads online and offers website advertising opportunities in more than 1200 top tier media companies.

It’s worth mentioning, that local businesses can enjoy free online advertising with Google My Business service. All you have to do it set up an account, provide your business information and optimize your business listing and Google + page. If you do everything right, Google will display your business along with other businesses on its Google Maps application and in search results when people are searching for products in your location. Google My Business is a great way to conduct free advertising online.

The key to choosing the best online advertisers is access to hard data, critical thinking and a thorough understanding of your customers and their behavior patterns.

Track everything

Paid internet advertising is a data driven field, where data defines the effectiveness of the campaign in terms of costs and the number of generated leads.

Taking a fresh advertising campaign from plain text based online ads to a money generating machine requires creative, technical, tracking and optimization skills. Each ad needs to be A/B tested and optimized to bring maximum ROI. If you don’t have access to data or do not intend to optimize your web advertising campaign, there is no sense in buying paid ads at all.

To track how your ads perform you can use Google Analytics. Google Analytics can help you create customized URLs for each ad and display performance metrics such as a number of visits and bounce rates. While traffic and click through rates are important, they don’t provide the full picture. Track conversions if you want to assess the quality of ads and whether the displayed sales messages are powerful enough.

Create a landing page

A landing page is a sales page that accepts all incoming traffic from advertising. While it’s possible to advertise the main website, landing page offers many features that are impossible to implement on a homepage:

  • Landing pages are intended to sell. They’re a logical continuation of your sales ads and make it easier for you to move the customer step by step down the sales funnel.
  • Landing pages specify the exact steps you want the customer to take. For example, while your home page presents the full assortment of the store, your landing page may be designed to push a certain product or a type of action such as PDF or Ebook download.
  • Tracking incoming traffic from ads is generally easier than trying to identify paid ads visitors among all the incoming home page traffic.

Remember, that the more specific you’re with your offer and target audience, the higher are your chances to convert visitors.  A landing page allows you to craft a unique sales message that triggers action, while your home page should tell a coherent brand story and invoke an emotional response.

Blocking your landing pages from search engines is an important step towards accurate analytics. When Google sends non-paid visitors to your landing page, you might see them as an indication of campaign’s success. Meanwhile, you will be paying for ads that are not bringing in any visitors. To avoid this trap, always block landing pages from search engines by editing your robots file.

Powerful sales copy and design is what makes a landing page successful. Think about what actions you want visitors to take when they visit your landing page. Do you want them to purchase a product? Or call a customer service representative?

Ideally, your landing page will present the problem and show how your product solves that problem in a clear and concise way. Don’t focus on features and benefits, rather envision the end result that your customer is hoping to get and work backwards from that vision.

Once you launch your landing page, your work needs to be optimized. Websites are never really complete and so are the landing pages. Everything, from the size of the banners to web copy, can be improved based on the feedback you get from users. This continuous improvement process is called A/B Testing and it involves slight changes of the landing page elements based on analytics.

When the user clicks the button, you can see it in analytics. When the user hovers over a phrase or a word, you can see that too. Then you can change the location of the button slightly or rephrase the sentence and watch how the user reacts to this new change.

That’s A/B Testing in a nutshell. There are some elements of science and art in it, but it’s important to make one change at a time so that you can track the results better. A/B Testing is not a quick fix either. You have to test and reiterate and then test again.

Watch your stats

When you make incremental changes it can be tempting to check your stats every day. Imagine the following situation: you go to analytics and see that the last change hasn’t brought any significant results. You might decide to revert back to the old version, but in fact, you don’t have enough data to make that decision yet. Decide on a baseline period for watching the stats and making changes. A week is a good time period, while monthly reviews can provide a more strategic overview.

For a better presentation of data try putting it all into a simple spreadsheet, where each column represents the month and rows are years. You can then track traffic volumes by inputting data into relevant fields and calculating the percentage by which traffic increased compared to the previous period.

Don’t be afraid to get rid of keywords that are not bringing conversions. Your end goal is to sell your product or service, so every keyword that does not add to that goal should be killed. Click through rates do not indicate campaign’s success, but if you’re getting many clicks and no conversions, your landing page design and copy might be the roadblocks. Again, A/B testing will help you refine your landing page while keyword research will bring hot leads in the last stage of a sales funnel.

Prepare for a long journey

These are just some of the basics of how to advertise online. No matter what you do, you won’t see the results instantly. You might gain tons of customers in the beginning of the campaign, but often these leads are random visitors that are hard to convert. If you truly want warm leads and maximum ROI, be ready to dedicate your time and effort to plan your advertising campaign. The best online advertising campaigns are carefully crafted and repeatedly optimized. And always remember, that it’s a marathon, not a sprint and that it’s the small steps that count.

Written by on August 10, 2016