For over 25 years, online advertising has been a staple of digital marketing. Since the first banner ad went live on October 27, 1994, the world of online advertising has grown into an industry unto itself, with experts and specialists building their entire businesses and careers around getting messages in front of a digital audience.
Today, the landscape has evolved to become barely recognizable to the early days of online advertising. Through ad targeting, keyword ranking, and heaps of analytical data, digital marketing professionals are able to pinpoint and deliver messages to their target audiences with precision never seen before.
For those new to the world of online advertising, this can all seem a little intimidating. With the amount of buzzwords thrown around and data to be analyzed, it’s tough to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve put together this quick-start guide to help get you started in the world of online advertising. With the techniques and tactics outlined below, you’ll be able to leverage Google Ads best practices to generate more business and foster growth in your organization.
Why Online Advertising (Still) Matters
Although over 615 million devices use some form of adblocking today, online advertising remains one of the most effective ways to immediately reach your audience. Whether it’s Google Ads or traditional display and banner ads, there are still numerous options available to marketing professionals.
Many experts have rightfully noted that organic content (websites, blogs, and non-paid social media content) is quickly emerging as an effective alternative to traditional online advertising. However, non-paid content has numerous drawbacks that do not affect online advertising.
First and foremost, all organic content is subject to algorithms, regardless of the platform on which it is posted. Whether it’s Google, Facebook, or another platform, non-paid content is ranked and sorted by algorithms beyond the control of marketers. An algorithm change can dramatically affect organic content’s performance; a seemingly minor Google update could dramatically change your blog’s search engine ranking (and how many potential customers will see your content).
In contrast, paid advertising is not affected by algorithms in the same way. Simply put, you’ve already paid for your content’s spot; you can rest assured that your content will be displayed where you want it, regardless of changes to the platform.
Second, organic marketing methods require more time to see significant ROI. Because organic content needs to be ranked and sorted by the platform’s algorithms, it can take a long time for your marketing efforts to produce results. With paid advertising, results are nearly instantaneous; once you’ve submitted your content, it will immediately be placed in front of your audience.
What Online Ads Can Do For Your Marketing Mix
A thoughtful, well-executed online advertising program will help you build awareness and drive traffic to your website quickly. Out of all digital marketing tactics, paid ads can generate some of the fastest returns on investment while giving you near-immediate feedback on your messaging and overall marketing approach.
The momentum and feedback created by an online advertising program can positively impact other parts of your digital marketing mix. These insights can inform your organization’s approach to search marketing, social media marketing, and other long-term strategies.
4 Steps to Online Advertising Success
1 – Develop an Audience Persona
Like all digital marketing practices, online advertising begins with your audience. Think about the customer you’re trying to reach: who are they? What demographics (age, income, profession, etc.) do they fall into? What challenges do they have that your business can solve? What will they type in Google when they’re looking for the solutions you offer?
By answering these questions, you are developing an “audience persona.” This is a handy tool that can guide all of your digital marketing practices. Use as much information as you can to make your persona as detailed as possible. The better you understand your audience, the easier it will be to choose the best method to reach them.
Many businesses have more than one type of client; don’t be afraid to build more than one audience persona. However, avoid trying to reach too many different kinds of customers at the same time. The last thing you want is to dilute your messaging and make your strategy less effective. Establishing your priority customers early will ensure your marketing efforts target audiences who will allow you to grow your business.
2 – Select Your Ad Network(s)
Through building your audience persona(s), it may have become clear where your audience will look for the solutions your business offers. When selecting an ad channel or ad network for your online advertising, aim to meet your audience where they are, utilizing channels and strategies that will grab their attention.
Typical online ad formats will dictate which networks are best to use for that specific format. Common ad formats include; PPC Search Ads, Display Ads, Remarketing Ads, Video Ads, and Social Ads.
Google offers all of these Ad formats on their Google Ads network. Google Search Ads, for example, are a highly effective platform to reach a wide variety of customer types. By buying ads on strategic google search keywords in your industry, you can gain exposure to highly-motivated potential customers already looking for the solutions your organization provides.
To learn more about ad formats please visit Google Ads Advanced Advertising Strategies page.
3 – Determine Your Keywords & Targeting Parameters
With the Ad format and Network now selected, it is time to configure and target each campaign or ad. Each ad network may have its own targeting and configuration methods and options available, but you should be able to match your Persona to each needed targeting metric. Display ads largely rely on either demographic, or psychographic characteristics of your Persona and their online behaviors. Ads will commonly be targeted to geographic regions, interests, intent, topics or demographics. Search ads also require keyword research.
Tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer and Google’s Keyword Planner are invaluable in generating keyword ideas, discovering what your potential customers are searching, and what you will build your online advertising efforts around.
4 – Set Up Tracking
Monitoring your online advertising is critical to your program’s success. There’s almost no point in running online ads if you can’t measure their performance and tie them back to positive results for your business.
Thankfully, one of the most robust and free tools (Google Analytics) offers a host of features to monitor your online advertising programs. In addition to monitoring clicks, conversions, and the like, Google Analytics also offers performance metrics that make it easy to calculate your online advertising ROI.
Quick tip: Once you’re set up, try creating a customized URL for each of your ads using Google Analytics Custom Campaigns. This will allow you to see the performance of all your ads in a single dashboard, allowing for easy comparisons and decision-making.
5 – Continually Evaluate Results
As with any digital marketing strategy, online advertising efforts are most effective when their results are continually tracked and improved. Tools like Google Analytics will allow you to monitor your advertising, see what’s resonating with your customers, and will enable you to refine your strategy to achieve consistent results.
While it’s tempting to check results daily, it is usually wise to let your analytics accumulate accurate trends and information over a more extended period of time. Monthly checks are sufficient for picking up broad shifts, while weekly checking can be useful for time-sensitive ads.
Be ready to kill keywords that aren’t helping your conversion over time, or landing page behaviour that isn’t converting to leads. While clicks are nice, conversion rates are the critical statistic for your online advertising. A click without a conversion is simply money spent, frequently without a purpose or a deliverable for your business. Identifying and removing these keywords from your ad spend will allow you to reallocate that money to other keywords, or even other digital marketing efforts.
Although online advertising can generate quick results for your business, it requires diligent long-term monitoring to reach its full potential, allowing you to maximize your return on investment. With careful planning, comprehensive research, and continual performance monitoring, online advertising can become one of the strongest elements of your organization’s marketing mix.
Marketing professionals know that ad creation and monitoring can be a time-consuming process. Especially if data analysis isn’t your thing, consistent monitoring and improvement can be a challenging and time-consuming process that takes away from other areas of your business. Consider using a digital marketing agency with dedicated online advertising systems and solutions to ensure you achieve consistent results.
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