Paid advertising is one of the best ways to bring in new customers, get leads and increase brand awareness, but it's also easy to lose money with paid ads.
Some businesses create an online advertising campaign, spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, but they see little to no return on their investment.
If you’ve been burned by online advertising in the past, or if you aren’t sure where to get started with paid ads, this post is for you. We’ll tell you what to do if you’re unsure about paid advertising and how to get the best results from your ads.
Wondering if paid advertising is worth the time, money and effort?
Online ads can be extremely beneficial for local businesses:
- 46 percent of people can’t identify paid ads in search results
- 41 percent of clicks in search results go to the top three paid ads
- PPC visitors (visitors who click your pay per click ads) are 50 percent more likely to purchase something than an organic visitor
- Search ads can increase brand awareness by 80 percent
What kinds of ads should you use? Here are some of the most popular online ad types:
Search ads are displayed (as the name suggests) in the search results in a user’s browser. You can create search ads for Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines. Your ads will display for a specific set of keywords (as well as other criteria you set when you create your ad campaign).
For local businesses, search ads are a great way to get to the top of the organic and local search results even if you’re having trouble managing your business’s citation information.
Here’s the best part about search ads: Google recently began to allow ads in the local search results.
This means you could show up at the top of the local search results for your industry, even if you are still working on improving your local search ranking. You need to have a Google search ad campaign and link your Google My Business account to your AdWords account with location extensions enabled.
If you do this, your ad could show up in the local finder.
This will give your business’s online presence a boost, even if your competitors rank higher than you in local searches, since the ads are displayed before the local search results.
When local consumers are searching for products or services like yours, search ads can help you meet demand by getting you to the top of the list.
Search ads can also help your business get to new markets. Even if you're showing up locally, creating search ads can help you expand your customer base and show up where you wouldn't be able to show up if you were only using local search marketing with no paid advertising.
Retargeting ads are served (shown) to people who have visited your website without converting (taking an action you want them to take).
So, if you have an e-commerce store and someone visits your website, adds a few items to their cart and then leaves, you can serve them retargeting ads.
Retargeting ads can reach users across platforms. Retargeting display ads will show up when the user visits another website. They can also be shown retargeting ads in searches or on social media. For more information on retargeting, check out our post, What is Retargeting?
Retargeting ads can drive some serious benefits for businesses:
- Conversion rates increase with more retargeting ad impressions, so people are more likely to convert with more retargeting ad views
- One study found that retargeting ads led to a 1046 percent increase in branded search and a 726 percent lift in site visits
Social Media Ads
Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram allow businesses to advertise to users. With advanced targeting options (and the option to retarget users on some social media sites) social media advertising can be extremely beneficial.
Facebook recently announced that it has more than 4 million active advertisers, the majority of which are small businesses. There’s a good chance your competitors are using Facebook to advertise to your customers, so you should too! You can set your Facebook ads to show up on Instagram too, since Facebook owns Instagram, reaching consumers who use both apps.
Users will see your display ads when they visit other websites. If you create ads for the Google Display Network, your ads could be served to users on one of the (more than) 2 million display network websites. Display network websites reach 90 percent of Internet users worldwide.
Display ads can be text or graphic-based, and they allow you to target users either by audience or website.
Targeting by audience allows you to serve ads to users with specific interests, for instance people in the "foodies" category or users in the market for engagement rings.
Targeting by website allows you to target users based on the website they are visiting by showing them ads from a similar website or topic.
Paid Advertising Best Practices
Wondering how to get the most out of your next PPC campaign? We have some advice for optimizing your ads.
Use consistent messaging.
When a consumer clicks your ad, they'll end up at a landing page.
Make sure that landing page’s messaging matches the messaging in the ad. If your ad promises a discount or promotion, don’t send the user to your homepage, where they can’t find the promotion. If you’re advertising a product, make sure the landing page is the product page. Don’t make them work for it.
Make conversions easy.
Along the same lines, make it easy for people to convert. They don’t want to have to work to buy something from you.
And, don’t give the user too many options.
If you want them to register for an event or call you, make sure the landing page gives them only the option to do what you want them to do. Don’t add a link to your other products or your “our team” page. If you give them too many choices, they’ll be distracted and less likely to convert.
A|B test everything.
A|B testing is creating two versions of an ad to see which ad performs better. You could try a new graphic, different ad copy or varying calls-to-action.
Once you’ve A|B tested an ad, either make another version of the ad to continue A|B testing, or optimize and run the better performing ad for a time before refreshing and re-testing. And never settle with your ads. Even if you think an ad is fine, keep testing and optimizing the campaign. Ads can always be better, so keep working to improve ad copy, calls to action, graphics, etc.
Target the right audience.
Do you know your ad’s target demographic? If not, take some time to build a buyer persona. Figure out who you want to see your ads, and target that group for the best results.
And make sure your ad appeals to your target demographic. What are their pain points and goals? How can your ad solve their problems? If you select a specific target audience but your engagement rates are low, refresh your ads or try some A|B testing.
Try something new.
Maybe the type of ad you tried didn’t work for you because you weren’t using the platform where your target audience goes. With all the ads we’ve mentioned in this post, there are so many options for new types of ads to try.
Start out with a small ad budget so you aren’t wasting time or money, but give something new a try!
Get help from paid advertising experts.
Sometimes businesses get burned by paid advertising, spending more money than they see in return from their ads, because they don’t have the time or expertise to manage an online advertising campaign.
If that’s the case with your advertising campaigns, consider talking to a paid advertising expert. Chances are, if it’s their full-time job, they’ll know a couple things you don’t know about optimizing online ads.
This post was created in collaboration with Erica Flinn, RevLocal's Senior Paid Advertising Manager.