Whoever said “the best things in life are free”, obviously wasn’t a digital marketer! While you can enjoy significant success through organic marketing (at the Digital Marketing Institute, for example, the largest percentage of traffic to our masterfully written blog can be attributed to organic search!), if you complement these activities with a comprehensive paid advertising strategy, you will be in a position to drive more traffic, achieve more brand visibility, and make more sales.
The rate at which marketers are investing in paid advertising speaks volumes about its potential to maximize ROI;
Last year, global digital ad spend was 159.8 billion US dollars. By the end of 2016, it is projected to hit $181.3 billion.Tweet This
Start by defining your overall digital marketing objectives and confirming your budget (obviously the more flexibility you have the better, but you can still achieve valuable, measurable results with a small amount of money), and then decide which of the paid advertising options I’ve outlined below will help you to achieve your goals!
Search (And Destroy The Competition!)
Paid search advertising serves as a valuable and malleable channel to generate leads and target customers. If used discerningly, a paid search strategy has the power to complement and enhance your organic search performance, boost your ranking and maximize your visibility to your target audience.
For the purposes of this section, I’ll be focusing on Pay-Per-Click (PPC); it’s an effective advertising model because it can be adapted to suit any budget size and can still deliver results. If you research and execute a considered keyword strategy, and take advantage of PPC’s exceptional measurability to figure out what works and doesn’t work, you can easily optimize your paid search campaign.
You can leverage paid search to drive more traffic to your site and ultimately acquire more customers in a few simple steps:
A Strong Keyword Strategy
The very obvious first step of any keyword strategy (unless you’re some sort of PPC maverick) is thorough research. Using Google as an example, you can use the Keyword Planner, and the Search Terms report available in AdWords to gain an insight into the performance of particular keywords, search volume data and generate ideas for new keywords.
When it comes to choosing keywords, there’s often a strong temptation to set keywords to exact match to target a specific audience, with the belief that they will be more receptive to advertising and consequently more likely to convert. Instead, opt for a combination of broad and phrase match to drive traffic and use exact match for well converting keywords as sparingly as possible.
Finally, make sure you favour quality over quantity! Start with a small selection of keywords, monitor their performance and build your keyword set slowly and steadily, based on what converts, and what enjoys a high CTR (your metric of the moment!).
Set Your Budget
For each search campaign you build, you can decide how much money Google can spend to display your ads. Utilize the Keyword Planner to help you plan your budget and get detailed click and cost performance forecasts based on your desired keywords and targeting options; it’s a great way to gain a high-level understanding of the potential cost of driving traffic to your website.
You can set a daily budget and cap it, in order to manage your spend wisely until you have a more detailed insight into your campaign performance. Once you do, you can start to adjust your allocation, based on more than just the Keyword Planner estimates. If your keywords have a high CTR and convert, and if your leads are high quality, then you can begin to invest more budget (if available) into your campaign. If not, you can continue to drip-feed your funds to AdWords and experiment with your targeting options and keywords, be they branded search terms and highly targeted keywords (for leads who are ready to purchase), or broader keywords that will cost less and raise awareness. It might take some time, but with a little analysis and perseverance, you will find your winning formula!
When it comes to text ads for PPC, you have a limited number of characters with which to convince your customers to click, so in this instance, first impressions are everything! To ensure those customers convert, you need to achieve maximum impact with minimum copy. When you’re creating your text ads, never forget that they need to be highly targeted, with a persuasive and relevant message.
A text ad is generally composed of:
- A title (25 characters), which is highlighted in blue on the first line of the ad
- A display URL (37 characters)
- 2 description lines (35 characters each)
Google can combine the title, URL and one description line into a text banner, but either way, it can be a challenge to convey yourself effectively with this character constraint. To maximize the effectiveness of your text ads, a good rule of thumb is to include relevant keywords (avoid stuffing!), an enticing Unique Selling Point (what can you offer your target audience that would make them want to click?), and at least two explicit Calls-To-Action (do you want them to call? Email? Visit your website?)
Take full advantage of your AdWords account structure to create focused campaigns within which you can drill down into ad groups and again into individual ads, where you can be as specific as possible with your copy.
Don’t forget to monitor the performance of your ads, so you can tweak your titles and CTA’s over time to guarantee the best results for your campaign!
Put Yourself On Display
Poor display advertising. Its reputation has suffered over the years, thanks to negative connotations brought about by interruptive, “spammy” banner ads that lacked any real context or value for their target audience. Users reacted with “banner blindness”, and as a result, the average CTR of display ads across all formats and placements is an underwhelming 0.06%.
That may sound like a damning statistic, but it doesn’t mean you should disregard digital display entirely. If implemented appropriately, display ads are an excellent platform for showcasing your products and brand across the internet; it’s somewhat revealing that in the US this year, digital display ad spending is set to eclipse search ad spending for the first time! Display advertising is perfect for creating awareness, building brand awareness, and consequently, trust. Depending on your overarching goals, you can decide how much budget you’d like to allocate to display.
In this section, I’ll be concentrating on how you can use the Google Display Network (it’s the biggest digital ad network in the world!) to your advantage, but you can leverage these tips for AOL (who carry Bing’s listings and ads), Yahoo, and across your display advertising activities in general.
Consider Your Targeting Options
One important thing to remember about display ads; they’re being served to an audience that is simply browsing the internet and hasn’t taken any steps whatsoever to seek out our products or brand. That’s why, as I’ve already said, display advertising can often be considered interruptive and irritating. The best way to alleviate any of this potential irritation is to consider your targeting options, so you can make sure your ads have the best chance of getting in front of people who actually want to see them.
Contextual Targeting: Otherwise known as keyword targeting, this option matches ads to sites on the Display Network using your selected keywords and topics. This means your ad will be shown on a website whose theme or concept is contextually relevant, to users whose activity on that site would indicate they’re likely to become a customer.
Placement Targeting: This option allows you to advertise on specific publisher sites; so you can decide exactly where you’d like your ads to appear. As with contextual targeting, this is a very focused targeting method, so you might want to start small with your budget to gauge your effectiveness before further investing.
Retargeting: Retargeting ads are served to users who have already visited your website after they have left your website. Retargeting is highly relevant as you are directing your ads at users who are more inclined to convert, though you will be targeting a lower volume of people.
Top tip: you can again take advantage of your account structure and use various ad groups to try out a mix of the above targeting options in combination with broader methods such as topic and interest targeting. Don’t forget to exclude irrelevant keywords, websites and topic either! The more you experiment, the more likely you are to find what works best for you, so you can make the most of your budget.
Optimize and Scale Your Success
Monitoring the performance of your display ads is a fundamental part of understanding which ad formats and placements you should adopt; but beyond this analysis, there are other actions you can take to maximize the effectiveness of your paid advertising strategy, particularly from a conversion perspective.
It’s helpful to note that Google recommends using conversion tracking data and your Cost Per Acquisition (rather than CTR) to gauge overall performance on the Display Network.
You can use the AdWords Conversion Optimizer to acquire the most conversions based on a set target CPA, so you don’t have to manually adjust bids. An alternative, if you’d rather not use CPA, is Enhanced CPC (ECPC), which can help you get more value from your ad budget by automatically raising your bid when it seems more likely to lead to a sale or conversion.
Finally, Real Time Bidding (RTB) is an efficient, scalable way to buy display ads. RTB works on the principle of auctioning an ad impression off individually to the highest bidder, so you can target your ads to a variety of websites, increase your reach and make better use of your budget!
As organic posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms compete to be displayed in user newsfeeds, paid promotion has rapidly become an essential component of any successful social media strategy, in order to gain valuable visibility in front of potential customers.
According to a whitepaper by Sprinklr, social advertising is an undervalued and underinvested area; social paid spend lags behind customer attention by 50%, or $5 billion.
This means that there exists a largely untapped opportunity to engage and attract customers via social media.
As with all paid advertising, you will need to experiment, test and tweak to obtain the best results. Focus on the social media platforms your target audience leans towards most, start small in terms of budget, and slowly scale when you’ve discovered your winning formula. There are countless platforms on which you can advertise, but I’ve outlined the features of three key players below:
Facebook: Depending on your objective, be it website conversions, Facebook page likes or lead generation, Facebook’s ad platform has an ad type that can help you to achieve it. You can promote existing Page posts or create entirely new ads using the Ads Manager/Power Editor. The Facebook ad account structure replicates that of AdWords, as you can create separate campaigns, ad sets and ads within those campaigns. You can avail of targeting options such as location, age, gender, language and interests, and, like AdWords, set a daily budget, a bid amount, and decide when you want your ad to run.
You can also use Custom Audiences to help you find your existing customers who are on Facebook, and Lookalike Audiences to find people who are similar to your best customers and more likely to convert as a result.
Twitter: Like Facebook, the first step in creating a Twitter ad campaign is to selecting your objectives. Do you want leads, followers, Tweet engagements? This will define whether you use a Twitter Card (to capture contact details for lead gen) or a Promoted Tweet. From there, you can target based on the usual options, as well as specific keywords and followers (you can reach users with interests similar to them). You can even target users based on the TV they watch, and the events they’re interested in. There are more similarities with Facebook as you can also create Tailored Audiences, to target individuals who have already expressed an interest in your brand.
LinkedIn: This platform is best suited to targeting professionals and a B2B audience. You can choose from either Sponsored Updates (ideal for content marketing if you’ve shared a blog post, for example) or text ads, with a headline, description (don’t forget the ad copy tips I’ve already mentioned above!) and image. LinkedIn’s targeting options are equally advanced as its social platform peers, so whichever medium you use, you can utilize paid social advertising in the most precise manner possible.
Our online Professional Diploma in Search Marketing teaches you the best practices for marketing various channels. It includes 30 hours of in-depth lectures taught by industry experts and will equip you with all the skills and knowledge you need to plan, build and measure effective paid media strategies. Find out more here.
About Sophie Elizabeth Smith
Sophie is a content marketer for the Digital Marketing Institute. Sophie enjoys creating content that connects with readers and helps them to better understand and practice all things digital. Sophie also enjoys guacamole and all films starring Nicolas Cage (but mainly Con Air).