The internet has made it possible for just about any company to run an ad campaign, target its customers, and determine where advertising efforts are most successful. The advertising platforms available on the internet include social media, search engine, and website sponsorships ads. Business owners should research their target customer and determine where that customer is online to maximize advertising returns on investment.
Targeting Desired Consumers
Online advertising can put ads where a business owner’s target market spends its time. Search engine ads target specific types of websites where consumers might be. For example, a dog sitter who places a search engine ad could find their ad on pet supply and pet food websites or pet rescue websites. Facebook has created a platform that helps a business hypertarget an ad to include geographic area, age, marital status, income and hobbies of potential customers.
Advertising for Any Budget
Many small-business owners can’t afford huge magazine layouts that function as a shotgun approach to advertising. When every dollar counts, online advertising allows business owners to set a specific budget over time. Some platforms allow advertisers to spend as little as $5 per day to test a campaign.
It is important to note that larger budgets often receive preferential listings and see consumer action quicker than smaller budgets, but the concept of being able to target an audience for a small amount of money and track the success is unbeatable.
Tracking and Analytics
Traditional advertising methods such as television commercials and magazine ads have no way to track the success of your ad. This is not an efficient model for business owners. Internet ads allow tracking from start to finish. Analytics tell business owners how many times the ad was placed and the number of people who saw it. It gives business owners a click-through rate (CTR) that tells them how many times the ad was opened. From there, website analytics can tell you how long a person stayed on the website and track the number of sales.
Business owners can consider both the CTR and the sales conversions to fine-tune advertising. If a lot of people click the ad but don’t buy, there is a problem with the website language, look or pricing. If there aren’t a lot of clicks on the ad but everyone who clicks buys, then the business owner wants to consider testing other ads to see if they can drive more traffic that results in sales.
Cost-Effective Split Testing Campaigns
Split testing takes two different ad strategies and compares the results. This process is also called an A/B test where you compare results from ad A to ad B. The difference in the two ads might be a simple style version of the ad to see which one gets more attention. The test could also look at the slightly different demographic information or slightly narrowed or expanded target consumer information.
For example, one ad might target married couples between the ages of 35 and 45. This ad could be tested against a target audience of married couples ages 35 to 50. The differences are usually subtle, but when advertisers follow analytics, they can see where they can maximize their ad dollars
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Advertising on the Internet
More than 4 billion people use the internet. If you want to build your business brand, reach prospective customers, and make more sales, you can no longer ignore digital advertising. But beware: There are ineffective strategies that can eat your ad dollars in record time, leaving you with little to show for your advertising efforts. However, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Advantage: Your Customers Are on the Internet
Do you know anyone who doesn’t use the internet? The fact that it is so ubiquitous is probably the most compelling reason to get on board. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn give you ample opportunities to put your products or services in front of potential customers. The Google Display Network is a true advertising behemoth with more than 2 million publisher sites on which you can advertise.
Advantage: You Can Target Effectively
Imagine you could take a snapshot of your best customer and duplicate him a hundred times. With look-alike audiences on social media platforms, you almost can. Facebook and similar networking channels have troves of demographics they share with advertisers, so you can hone in on users who are most likely to purchase your products. Target prospective customers or clients by job title on LinkedIn, connections on Facebook, or interests and behaviors on Instagram. Unlike the wide net approach of traditional television and radio advertising, internet advertising lets you find the right prospects at the right time and show them an ad they may care about.
Advantage: You Can Closely Monitor Spending
You can spend thousands of dollars on a 30-second television ad that might reach someone who might be interested in what you have to sell someday. You can also spend thousands of dollars on internet ads, and only pay when people who are interested in your products click on your ad. With digital ads, you can set a spending cap and limit the number of times a prospective customer sees an ad in a given period.
Advantage: You Can Track Your Results
Digital advertising allows you to monitor and track the results of all your campaigns. You can find out when a lead converted into a sale, note the platform where it happened, and determine what kinds of ads are working best for your particular demographic. The internet with all its minute tracking abilities allows you to measure the return on investment of your marketing dollars.
Disadvantage: It’s Complicated
There are lots of choices when it comes to advertising on the internet. You can choose search advertising, so your ads show up when a target audience is looking for just what you offer or display ads that appear where your most likely prospects roam on the internet. There are even native ads that show up on publisher sites and blend in so well that they appear not to be ads at all. Then there are remarketing ads that target someone who’s visited your website with a customized message that appears in front of them somewhere else on the internet. Add to those choices the way you pay. With pay-per-click ads, you pay when someone clicks, but how much are you willing to pay? For those search ads, you’ll need to identify key search terms and decide how much to bid on each word. There are lots of levers to pull.
Disadvantage: Mistakes Can Be Costly
Because digital advertising is complicated, it’s not uncommon for businesses to make mistakes. Choose the wrong keywords, neglect a bidding cap, target ineffectively, or leave a campaign running when you thought it was off, and you can spend a fortune without turning a single lead into a sale. For example, if you run a campaign on Facebook but your customers are more likely to be LinkedIn users, you’re unlikely to convert a lead. If you don’t cap your bids, you could blow through the money you thought would last months in a matter of days.
Disadvantage: Competition Is Fierce
It depends on your products and market, but internet advertising competition can make ads prohibitively expensive. Those keyword bids? If you can only afford 10 cents a word, but your competitor can pay $10, you don’t stand much of a chance. For some businesses, it makes sense to build a good website and then rely on traditional advertising methods that have always worked in the past.
Disadvantage: Ad Fatigue Is Common
Have you ever been on a site and seen an ad for a product on which you recently ran a search? That’s internet advertising at its most typical, but have you also noticed that after a while, those ads don’t even register on your radar? It’s like they’re invisible. It’s a common and pervasive problem with running ads on the internet. If the campaigns aren’t run correctly, your brand and its products suffer from ad fatigue.
You have lots of marketing choices, and the internet should probably be one of them. Do your research to ensure that you reap all the benefits and avoid the pitfalls.