Digital advertising is an important element of every business strategy, whether you’re an up-and-coming SaaS provider with dreams of global domination or a local plumbing company who just wants to keep the phones ringing. That’s because the internet has become the first place people turn to when they’re looking for services of almost any kind. And since more than eight-in-ten US adults are going online at least once a day, digital advertising is one of the most effective ways of reaching these potential customers.
Of course, with so many companies running digital ads, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd and convince people to click on your ad instead of a competitor’s. But you’re not just competing with other businesses; you also have to make sure your content is attractive to the algorithms search engines and social media platforms use to determine which ads are shown in the first place.
5 Ways to Make Your Ads Stand Out
Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind as you’re thinking about your digital advertising strategy.
1. Set Your Goals
If you don’t identify goals for your ad campaign and determine what success looks like up front, you’re going to have a hard time crafting an effective strategy. Sure, you could simply throw together a few quick ads for social media or Google, but if you don’t know whether you’re trying to increase brand awareness, acquire new leads, or book product demos, the campaign is probably going to end up being a jumbled mess that wastes time and resources.
Defining what you’re hoping to accomplish with an ad determines what the ad itself will look like and what campaign elements will be needed to support it. An ad promoting a restaurant might link directly to the reservation system or a menu, while a campaign seeking to gather prospect emails will probably go to a custom landing page that could be linked to multiple ads across several channels. From a budgeting standpoint, your goals will often dictate how much you’re willing to spend on placing the ad.
Setting goals for a campaign is also critically important for evaluating its performance over time. While benchmarking against previous ads can be useful, this could provide a misleading impression if those ads also lacked some objective measure of success. Doubling your conversion rate might sound impressive, but if your last batch of ads severely underperformed, you could still be falling far short of where you need to be.
2. Identify Your Audience
This might seem like another obvious point, but you’d be surprised at how many ads completely fail to think about who they’re trying to reach. If you’ve done your homework ahead of time, the campaign should already have clearly defined personas in place for your ads to target. Your target audience’s preferences and characteristics will help shape the tone, style, and location of your ad.
The location aspect is perhaps the most important element to keep in mind. If your target audience spends most of their time on LinkedIn and Google, it’s probably not a good idea to invest a lot of resources into running ads on Facebook or YouTube. Always keep in mind where you’re most likely to find your intended audience and which messages are most likely to resonate with them.
But location doesn’t just refer to which platforms you’re running ads on. Thanks to geo-targeting, you can pinpoint which specific areas you’d like your ads to reach. This is critically important for businesses trying to gain customers in their local markets. It’s not going to do you much good to run nationwide ads if your business only works with customers in a few cities. Those resources could be much better utilized running expanded, localized campaigns.
3. Do Your Research
By this stage, you’ve obviously already conducted some preliminary research. You’ve established the goals for your ad, identified who your audience is, and determined the best place to run your ads. But you still need to complete the necessary keyword research for your digital ads if you want them to show up in the right places at the right time.
This research will begin with identifying the most popular keywords associated with your product or services, but good keyword research involves a lot more digging than just logging into your favorite SEO platform and finding what terms have the best search volume. Nuance matters, and if you aren’t careful you could end up spending a fortune on keywords that seem relevant but don’t actually align with what your intended customers are searching for.
Understanding the user’s search intent is critically important as you’re building your ad campaign. In some cases, high volume keywords are being driven by casual searches from people who will never become customers. These terms might get more eyeballs on your ads, but they aren’t going to convert at a commensurate rate if those eyeballs belong to the wrong audience. Taking the time to identify keywords more closely aligned with the search intent of your target customers can both reduce your ad spend (since you’re not paying for junk traffic) and increase your campaign’s effectiveness.
4. Be True to Your Brand
When the time comes to create your ad content, don’t fall into the trap of over-optimizing for the format. Ads may sometimes seem like a one-off project but they’re an important part of your overall brand strategy. As unique pieces of content, they should reflect the same brand identity you’ve spent so much time cultivating elsewhere.
At the same time, don’t forget that you’re still creating an ad. People recognize ads when they see them, so don’t get too hung up over maintaining a level of authenticity. Be consistent with your brand messaging and get to the point quickly. If your brand identity tends toward a more serious tone, be direct and clear about your value proposition. For brands that are a bit more playful, you can easily poke fun at yourself or the whole concept of running an ad in the first place.
Advertising has become so ubiquitous in today’s digital media environment that any ad that fails to resonate or draw attention to itself quickly fades into the background and is overlooked. While this is obviously a bad outcome if you’re running one of these ads, it also gives you a bit of freedom to experiment. If your messaging is a bit off or doesn’t quite resonate with the target audience, it’s unlikely to inflict any damage on your brand. Don’t be afraid to be creative and true to yourself.
5. Test, Track, & Learn
Data is your friend when it comes to running a successful ad campaign. The days of running an ad and hoping you’ll eventually see a bump in sales are long gone. Digital advertising provides detailed information about how many people view and interact with an ad over time, which is invaluable for refining your marketing efforts. Over time, this data can give you a more accurate picture of what kind of ads perform well, which ones are lackluster, and generate the best business results.
You can also use A/B testing to run different forms of an ad and determine which versions are most effective. This technique is used across many different marketing functions, but it’s especially important for ads, where changing even a single word or adjusting an image slightly can result in a noticeable difference in conversion rates. Although A/B testing can take a little extra time to set up and manage, it’s almost always worth the effort in the long run.
Gathering data on ad performance also allows you to identify trends over time that might not have been evident otherwise. For instance, some minor change in an advertising platform’s algorithm might have a big impact on the way your ads are displayed, but you might not notice the effects right away. When you go back to analyze what’s going wrong, having historical data to turn to allows you to quickly pinpoint the problem’s origin, or at least tell you where to start looking for answers.
Ready to Give Your Ads a Makeover?
Spending money on ads that aren’t generating business is basically like throwing money into a hole. Actually, it’s more like buying a shovel to dig the hole, dumping the money into it, filling it back up with dirt, and then breaking the shovel handle. It’s just a waste of resources on every level.
If you’re ready to rethink your marketing strategy, the team at Roger West can help you make ads that stand out from the crowd and bring money into your business rather than sucking it away. Give us a call and let’s get started!