Understanding advertising strategy for your business and how to accurately and effectively test your advertising results across multiple platforms as algorithms, opportunities, and continually changing trends can be a most daunting task. But, that’s why we’re here, friendos. We got you.
If you’re like many small and mid-sized business owners, much of your time is spent tending to the running of your daily operation, whether that means meeting with clients, managing staff, or overseeing production. Maybe you even find time to post something to your Facebook business page or Instagram account every now and then.
But chances are you don’t have the time to act as your own advertising and marketing department across all the social media and online digital advertising platforms you suspect that your business should be engaged with, let alone find the time to research and keep up with the trends and changes going on around us all the time. Who has that much time, right?
No worries, though: we’ve got you covered! In this blog, we’ll examine some of the most common places you’re most likely to advertise your business and offerings throughout the digital world and some of the common pitfalls that business owners face when trying to test and hone in their advertising results successfully.
Throughout this blog we’ll look at:
- The right testing for your business’ advertising strategy.
- Some of the common mistakes small businesses make when testing ads.
- Where to get help with proper testing and increasing the effectiveness of your advertising.
Where Are You Advertising?
With more options than ever at your disposal to advertise and promote your business’ product or service in the digital world, it’s that much more important to be sure you’re advertising across platforms that make sense the most for your particular business and your business goals. A lot of good money can be spent away by trying to reach the right prospect in the wrong place. *buzzer noise*
For example, if you own a marketing consultancy serving specialty coffee retailers, you’re not likely to be able to specifically target and reach independent coffee shop owners by “boosting” a post on Facebook. If you own a restaurant, on the other hand, advertising on Facebook to reach your ideal local consumer can be an excellent way to increase exposure and get hungry bodies through the door to spend their money.
Where you advertise at matters. And just as important as where you spend your advertising dollar is “how” you’re advertising on any given ad platform. Whether it’s a local billboard above a busy commuter-way in your city or advertising your delicatessen on Yelp, knowing who your target consumer is and where they can be reached online is going to be crucial to your advertising success.
Old School: Passive Display Ads vs. Direct Response Ads
We’ve all seen them and we’ve also been inundated with them. Passive ads on television, in print or on the web that flash a company’s name and logo and maybe even try their best to throw in some humor, all in the hope of staying “Top Of Mind.” Large businesses and corporations have the massive advertising budgets to try and remain foremost in the front and center in your mind in hopes that you will choose to do business with them when shopping for the type of product or service that they happen to sell.
Think about it for a moment. When you’re looking for a drive through food establishment to grab a quick bite, and that hunger is gnawing at your stomach, what comes to mind? McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or another one of your favorite fast-food restaurants? Even when you opt to jump out of the car and grab a handful of carrots from your local natural foods store, I bet that one or more of the larger fast food chains at least crossed your mind first.
For most of us with small to medium-sized businesses though, we may never have the budget to continually throw massive amounts of advertising out in front of the world. Who has that kinda money, right?
Unfortunately, when a smaller, independent business decides to run a display ad that offers little more than your business name, logo, a list of what you offer, your location and maybe a cute catchphrase, it can be difficult, if not impossible to accurately determine the actual response in customer visits or dollars earned for your business as a direct result of that particular ad. At best, you may see a bump in traffic or sales around the general time frame that you ran the ad and you might assume it is directly related. And you may or may not be correct. (Bummer, right?) At worst, you may have noticed what seems to be an increase in business that you assume correlates to the ad you just ran, but then a manager or other employee tells you they have noticed “about the same” or even a little less business. So you’re left to guess without any real way of measuring the success of your advertising.
Take Action Now: Call to Action(s)
In stark contrast to passive display advertising, direct-response ads incorporate a specific call to action (CTA) which allows a business to more accurately track and record the particular number of responses the ad garners for your business. For example, you can place a coupon ad in your local newspaper that calls for the reader/potential customer to clip the coupon and physically redeem it in order to enjoy a specific product, service or other deal. By going direct-response with your ads, you can track and record exactly how many coupons (responses) you got from the ad and how much revenue it brought in. Another upside in this example is that you’ll likely only have to pay the newspaper for the number of coupons that were redeemed (If that’s the specific deal you worked with them).
New School: Enter the Digital Age
So what’s the modern-day equivalent to printing a newspaper coupon? Riding the new wave of digital content and online advertising across the World Wide Web has us awash in new opportunities for finding, engaging and interacting with our target market. Not the least of which is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on the web. If you haven’t dipped your toes in the waters of PPC advertising, you likely will soon.
Google AdWords or Google Ads as it’s also known, is one of the more popular go-to online advertising strategies for businesses of all sizes. So much so that Google Ads is now Google’s new “cash cow,” contributing to the company’s $95.4 billion in annual revenue in 2017. And with good reason. It works better than the older style of passive display ads that large companies shell out big bucks for.
With direct-response advertising like PPC, we can now begin testing and recording our advertising’s effectiveness and the dollar value they bring to our business.
Now that we’ve scratched the surface of digital content advertising to test and improve upon, we’re ready to delve into the nuances of testing for “keywords” that can make all the difference between struggling to get your business found and enjoying success with your online advertising strategy.
While we could probably write an entire book on all of the elements of your advertising strategy that you could possibly test, we’re going to focus mainly on a few here in this blog. Depending on what type of business you are advertising for, the number of different platforms for reaching your target audience alone can be a bit overwhelming. Here are just a few of the more popular social media and web-based platforms for advertising:
- Landing Page
- Google AdWords (Google Ads)
- Search Engines
Since this blog asks the question, “Are you testing your ad strategies correctly?” we won’t take the time to get too deep into how to advertise on the various platforms outlined above, but instead, we’ll give you some of the most useful resources on the web for successful ad testing in some of the more popular areas that we just listed. These resources can give you the tools you need to avoid many of the pitfalls that the newbies to the digital advertising world, reading this blog, will want to avoid.
Here’s an excerpt from an article on Inc Magazine’s website, inc.com that’s germane to our topic, “Maybe the ads are fine. It might be your approach to the different advertising platforms that’s the problem.” So let’s assume that you have a solid advertising strategy in place, either through your company’s gifted marketing manager or from a kick-butt professional digital marketing agency. Knowing how to test advertisements on these different digital platforms, knowing if you’re getting complete and accurate data recorded from your tests and knowing how to determine if your test results are statistically significant are all crucial elements to a successful campaign that you can continue to build on.
- ads.google.com is an excellent place to start for those needing to gain an understanding of measuring the performance of your google ads. Here you’ll find links to Google’s guide on: Google Ads Metrics Definition Guide, including About Return on Investment (ROI), Measure Traffic to Your Website and Measuring Brand Awareness. Score, right?
- Google Analytics is the go-to analytics tool to start you on your way to accurate and useful ad testing with Google AdWords.
- Facebook has excellent information to help guide you through measuring, tracking and optimizing ad performance for businesses. Facebook’s “People-Based Measurement” will even help businesses to understand the steps people take through the buying process up through conversion. Hell yes, Facebook!
- Measure Facebook ad performance with their Ads Manager tool which you can access here.
- Blogging is an inbound marketing tool and a great way to climb the mountain of Search Engine Optimization, grain credibility within your marketplace, advertise your business, and drive customers to your website or storefront. While there are many factors that you can test and tweak with your blogs; Headlines, layout or formatting, quality of content and style of writing, the use of keywords and your call to action (CTA), etc., the metrics you use to see how well your blog is doing includes number of views your blog gets, number of clicks, conversion rate and, of course, how well they help your site to rank higher in search engines.
- SERPBook is a powerful tool for tracking keyword rankings in web search. One blog says, “It is one of THE best ranking trackers available on the market.”
To learn more about testing and metrics for other social media and web advertising, check out this short blog from dummies.com, the people that produce Web Marketing for Dummies and other “for Dummies” instructional books. The tools and the help to accurately test, track and improve upon your digital advertising efforts are out there if you have the time to search, mine and then test it out. And like one of my favorite Tom Selleck characters is fond of saying, “The information is out there, you just gotta know where to find it.”
Tips For Testing
Here are a few quick ad testing tips to get you out the door and running right now.
- Start simple. Begin with your best performing online advertising platform whether it’s Facebook ads, AdWords, Pinterest ads or marketing emails and start with a simple A/B split test. Move up to an A/B/C split test or Page Level Design test.
- Test your ads on each of the platforms that you currently advertise on to hone your response rates and get the most for your ad dollars.
- Be consistent. Dropping your guard and failing to check your advertising metrics for extended periods of time can cause you to fall off track and cost you unnecessarily in the long run.
- Make sure you’re data is sound and is significant enough to, indeed, give you the information you need to continue towards your advertising goals.
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