Online advertising takes many shapes and forms. Sometimes people refer to it as “Pay-per-Click” campaigns (PPC), but that’s one specific type of advertising, most often referring to Google Ads search campaigns. Advertising on Facebook is incredibly popular but there are a variety of ad products for businesses to access, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Instagram leverages the same business manager platform as Facebook, offering similar products and capabilities, but targeting a different audience. LinkedIn has a broad social network of professionals good to be tapped into for business-to-business (B2B) strategies. Then there are sites with more niche audiences like Pinterest, Houzz and Zillow. And none of those account for Programmatic online advertising, which is a buzzword that encapsulates an assortment of advertising opportunities, but at the more expensive end of the spectrum.
With all of these options, it is challenging for businesses new to this space to both select the right tactic and choose the right partner to help them execute a successful campaign. The steps that follow will help you on your journey to build strong digital marketing paid campaigns that provide a return on your investment.
Define Your Goals
Defining the goals of your paid campaigns is not as straightforward as some might think. Not all PPC or Facebook campaigns are designed to accomplish the same goals. Below is a small subset of potential goals for paid digital marketing campaigns:
- Generate Business-to-Business Leads
- Drive new customers to an ecommerce website for revenue generation
- Increase website traffic around a new product launch to increase awareness
- Increase social media audience sizes to expand the reach of organic social media messaging
- Nurture existing prospects in the pipeline
The first step in choosing the right campaign structure is clearly defining your goals. And in defining your goals, make clear what success would be and over what time horizon. If your average customer lifecycle is six months, you shouldn’t expect to see revenue until month seven of the campaign. Understand what early indicators will be signs of success or failure so the reporting and analysis of the early campaign can guide your decision-making process.
Define Your Audience
After defining the goal(s) for your paid campaigns, clearly define the audience. The more precise you are in defining the audience, the more effective your digital campaigns will be because the population receiving your ads will be more likely to convert. Some things to consider in defining your audience:
- Business-to-Business (B2B)
- Company Size (employee count)
- Annual Revenue
- Internal Buyer Persona (job title) – Owner/Chief Financial Officer/HR Manager
- Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
Define Your Budget
Your budget will play an important role in the design for your Search Engine Marketing campaigns. Often, our clients will want to spread their budget around different tactics and platforms to test the different success rates. And while we completely endorse a strategy that incorporates A/B testing and then optimization by reallocating resources, certain tactics require a minimal commitment of resources to provide a large enough sample size to analyze. Clearly establish the investment you’re committing to and over what timeframe. Campaigns need to be optimized and be honest with yourself about expected return on investment.
Select Your Platform
With your goals stated, audience defined and budget set, you can proceed with confidence in choosing which advertising platform to use. Below are brief descriptions of which platform to use and when, for various pay-per-click, search engine marketing and paid social media campaigns.
Google is the most popular platform for online advertising and for good reason. Depending upon the device, Google accounts for between 62% and 84% of all U.S. search volume. The Google ad platform allows you to define the search terms you want, set negative keywords to further narrow your audience, set a precise daily budget and monitor your campaign’s performance in real team. The Google Ads reporting platform has the best user interface, provides the most detailed campaign performance statistics and ties directly into Google Analytics providing accurate lead attribution. Google Ads is the best-in-class online advertising platform and does not have a close second.
Facebook and Instagram both operate using the same business management platform, so operationally, access to either provides access to both. Facebook and Instagram are often a great match for business-to-consumer (B2C) advertising. The main advantage of operating in this space is the ability to truly micro-target your audience, defining their demographics, income, geography, interests, psychographics and more. Although there is no clear red line generationally when it comes to adoption of the two services, for audiences over 45 Facebook is more prominent, where younger audiences trend to Instagram. There are many advertising options including lead ads, boosted content, stories, product ads and video ads. Facebook and Instagram are also the most budget friendly of all the platforms, so if your budget is under $1,000/month, it is likely best to be served advertising directly to your audience here.
LinkedIn is a good option for business-to-business (B2B) advertising. Typically more expensive than Google and Facebook/Instagram, the targeting abilities on LinkedIn are strong, so building an accurate buyer persona will facilitate success. Direct lead generation on the platform can be challenging but using the audiences for nurture campaigns on long sales cycle products is effective.
Programmatic is a word that is tossed around a lot these days and can mean a variety of things, depending on who is using the term. In general, a programmatic advertising campaign does the following things:
- Creates a large custom audience based on a common theme: search history, content engagement, credit scores, etc.
- Targets the audience based on the understanding of their search and browsing habits
- Delivers a call-to-action specific to the specific user experience it has constructed
- Uses artificial intelligence to increase its efficiency by finding trends in its successful conversions
- Programmatic advertisers often have high minimums, often in the range of $5,000 to $10,000
The landscape of digital advertising provides nearly countless options that can seem daunting to the novice. If you’re looking to invest in your business by advertising on the internet but feel unsure about the success and the ability to measure ROI, that is normal. Reach out and we can help you decide if you’re ready and the best strategy to proceed.