Online advertising opportunities are limitless – social media, search engines and email lists are just a few of the options through which you can promote your business. Even better, unlike traditional advertising, every option makes it possible to collect actual data on just how well your ads perform.
Getting your audience to click on your ads is only the beginning. According to WordStream, a developer of online marketing software, what you’re really looking for is “the highest possible percentage of visitors to your site to convert, or complete your desired action.” Believe it or not, converting your visitors is something that you have a high level of control over.
8 things you need to know about online advertising:
- Pick channels by demographics. First, you’ve got to have a crystal-clear understanding of your target audience. “The value of the Internet is not that you can reach the entire world, but more that you can reach niche communities,” states Doug Lacombe, president and founder of Communicatto. “Follow your audience, not the audience.”
- Always use a landing page, not your home page. By designing a landing page – a page that viewers will “land” on after clicking your ad – that’s separate from your home page, you will streamline the process of achieving your conversion goal. Landing pages are solely designed to promote your businesses objectives; home pages include distractions that may prevent viewers from reaching those objectives.
Of course, the content is all-important. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB), if your audience finds that the content on your landing page isn’t relevant “to what they were looking for or expecting to find, they will return to their search and you will lose that lead.”
- Boldly promote conversion points (calls to action) on your landing page. Tons of planning goes into landing pages. From colour schemes to layout, there’s a purpose behind every detail. “Do not be ambiguous on the call to action. Ask for exactly what you want people to do,” Lacombe recommends. From there, controlled tests can be used to measure the effectiveness of your landing page; eventually, tweaks can be made to enhance the page based on the test results.
- Try A/B testing to gain performance intelligence. When it comes to creating effective ads, it’s results that matter, not opinions. By creating several versions of your ads, you’ll be able to see which ones are actually most effective and appealing. “Doing this continuously so as to optimize the ratio of actions taken to page visits is the process known as conversion rate optimization,” adds Lacombe.
- Install measurement code at every stage of the process. Simply generating traffic is no longer enough – you need to make sure that your audience actually does something when they click on your ads, such as watch a video, subscribe to an email newsletter or share your content. Upon arriving at your landing page, audience members are either going to stick around or go running for the hills.
“60.66% of ad clicks that make it to a landing page don’t make it any further than the landing page,” IAB reports. By using tools such as advertising apps and marketing platforms, you’ll be able to track whether or not the clicks you generate lead to meaningful action.
- Evaluate click-through behaviour – do they bounce? “Ultimately, you can only manage what you measure,” Lacombe points out. “Each individual advertising platform will report on a variety of things such as clicks, impressions, click through rate, cost per click, and even grade the quality of your ad creative.”
Is your audience answering your call to action? Thanks to the abundance of online resources, it’s never been easier to find an informed answer to this question.
- Optimize the campaign in real time, on the fly. “You must actively participate in evaluating all the performance metrics, scores, progress towards goals, and so on,” Lacombe advises. By giving your landing page time to make an impression on viewers, you’ll collect enough stats to make the necessary adjustments. “You want to optimize based on patterns, not on chance happenings,” Lacombe cautions.
- Debrief and improve. There are many factors to consider when deciding how well your campaign has performed. How many clicks did you generate, and how much did each click cost you? Did you convert your audience members? How well did your ads perform in comparison to industry benchmarks? How does this campaign stack up to your last one?
The answers to these questions will determine what you need to do to improve your campaign and ultimately up your conversion rate at the lowest cost per click.
“Hardly anyone is in the business of ‘getting clicks’. They are more likely to be in the business of achieving outcomes or driving some form of action,” Lacombe notes. “Online advertising measurement is so much more sophisticated than traditional advertising.”
Ultimately, by using today’s technology to monitor and optimize your online advertising practices, you can bring unprecedented levels of marketing success to your business.