The best way to use paid advertising is to drive traffic to a page that has a specific call-to-action, such as subscribing to your blog, downloading an ebook, or signing up for a free trial: such as the landing pages.
You don’t want to just pay for traffic, you want to pay for traffic that turns into subscribers and leads.
Also, what you don’t want to do is drive traffic from ads to your homepage where there’s no specific next action to take: that’s a lot of ad dollars that are going nowhere.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing (SEM), or paid search, is one of the biggest areas of paid marketing, and it refers to paying for search terms people are entering into search engines such as Google and Bing with what are known as “bids”.
Depending on your bid versus others bidding on the same keyword phrase, your ad will show up above organic search results for a set amount of time until you exhaust that ad’s budget.
For example, if you were to bid on the term “email marketing tips”, your ad would appear on the page displaying search results for that keyword. Each search engine has its own version of paid search, including Google Adwords, Bing Ads, and Yahoo! Search Ads.
How to do paid search effectively is its own additional ebook, but to get you started, here are some best practices:
- Do keyword research to understand which terms to bid on and understand your cost per click (CPC).
- Always use targeting so your ads get served to the most relevant audience. You can target by behavior, location, device type, and more. For example, if you’re a mobile food delivery app located in New York, you really don’t need to be targeting desktop users, or those outside of New York.
- Set up a brand name campaign — this is when you bid on your company’s name. For example, we would bid on “Lemon Tree Media” so that if someone searches for that term, we’re displayed in the ad section as well as inorganic. You don’t need to bid on competitors’ brand names — it’s not a sustainable or cost-effective strategy.
- Bid on keywords related to your brand. For example, Lemon Tree Media might bid on the term “Web Design in Raleigh” which is closely associated with our company.
- Optimize ads for quality scores by linking them to relevant landing pages. If your ad points to a page that a search engine doesn’t think is actually related to the ad, your ad won’t get served up.
Display advertising often referred to as banner ads, is when you pay for ad space on third-party sites. Think about a media website you’ve visited recently — often, there will be ads across the top, on the right-hand side, and even bottom of their web pages.
Before you use this form of advertising, ask yourself: when was the last time you clicked on a display ad?
For many of us, the answer is “never” because these ads have a bad reputation as being distracting, disruptive, and unrelated to anything you might be interested in.
While it’s the least effective of the different types of digital advertising if you do choose to use display advertising, make sure you’re using proper targeting so that your ads are getting served to the right people in the right place.
Here are some display PPC tips you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Create a “blacklist” of site types you do not want your ads appearing on. You don’t want your brand on sites that don’t mesh with your content or brand, such as error pages or pages containing profane language or images. Advertisers such as Google Display Network allow you to do this in the account settings section.
- Always use images — text-only display ads will get completely lost. Take into account how images have performed on other organic and paid channels (for example, see how they performed on your Facebook page or in a Twitter ad).
- Test your ad copy, too. Create several ads driving to the same landing page. After a day of running, see which ad is performing best and turn the others off. You’ll get further with your dollar.
Native Social Advertising
Native advertising refers to ads that look like they are part of the platform they are on. You may have seen promoted posts in your Facebook news feed, sponsored updates on LinkedIn, or perhaps promoted tweets on Twitter. They look like a normal update in the user’s feed but are marked as “sponsored” or “promoted” so users know it’s an advertisement.
When you combine native advertising with good targeting, which many platforms such as Facebook allow, you can get a great bang for your buck. This is because you are able to serve relevant content to the right audience.
On Facebook, for example, if you are a marketing agency that works with startups, you could target by location, interests, and job title to show a relevant piece of content to them.
Or, if you’re an e-commerce platform for quirky women’s shoes, you could target by locations you ship to, gender, age, and what they’ve “liked” previously online.
Here are some best practices for social advertising:
- Use the right type of ad for your goal. You can use ads that are geared toward improving engagement such as retweets and favorites, website clicks or conversions, app installs, followers, or even leads. If you want to generate leads, use the website clicks ad. If you want to get blog subscribers, consider using Twitter lead gen ads, which collect the subscriber with just a click.
- Always use images. Ads that use images perform 3x better than text-based ones.
- Don’t use hashtags in paid tweets. Each link you add reduces the click-through rate on the website URL you’re actually trying to drive users towards.
- Create a targeted audience for every ad placement. You might reach fewer people, but targeting by demographics, interests, and location can help you increase engagement because your content will be more relevant to a larger portion of your audience.
- Take advantage of all components of your ad creative, such as the call-to-action button and news feed link description.
- Choose what medium your ad is displayed on. If conversion is your goal, consider limiting ads to just the newsfeed. If you have a longer form on your landing page, you may want to limit it to desktop-only.
- LinkedIn is a great platform for B2B companies — so if you’re selling products or services to another company, consider utilizing this platform for high-value clicks.
- Sponsored updates with video or images tend to perform better than those without. When choosing what content to promote, consider trying these formats out.
- Use 60 characters or less for the description of your ad so that the text doesn’t get cut off the page.
- Target your ads to the right audience — with LinkedIn, you can get the most granular with your targeting out of all the social media platforms available, so take your time to find the right audience. You can even target employees at specific companies, so if you have a targeted campaign aimed at a few enterprises in a certain industry this might be a great way to drive the right traffic back to your website.
Once you’ve got a fair amount of traffic and built up your database with leads, you can even use paid advertising to move those leads towards taking further actions and becoming customers. This form of advertising is called paid retargeting, where, you guessed it, you retarget your existing leads.
Retargeting website visitors
Say you get 10,000 visits a month to your website. You know that the people visiting your website interacted with it somehow — maybe your content, or your products, or they want to learn more about your company. But you don’t have their email address, which means there’s no way for you to reach them.
That’s where retargeting comes in. You can use tracking pixels (snippets of code on your website) to mark visitors with a cookie. You can then show those visitors relevant ads on display or social and get them back to your site.
Retarget contacts in your database
You can supplement your marketing automation with paid retargeting to nurture leads into becoming customers. Essentially, you can upload a list of email addresses, phone numbers, or, in the case of Twitter, Twitter handles that you have in your database and then show ads to just those people on that native platform, such as Facebook or Twitter. One example we use is to retarget marketers who have viewed blog posts about Facebook marketing with ads for a related ebook and to subscribe to the blog.
Here’s another example. Say you are a recruiting firm for corporations, and someone filled out a form to download your ebook called “10 Mistakes to Avoid During the Hiring Process” aimed at HR managers. You can take the list of everyone who’s downloaded that ebook and retarget them with more relevant content — moving them over time towards a free recruiting consultation, for example, and getting them to talk to your sales team.
Retargeting is a great way to engage your existing audience across other platforms they might be frequenting without being interruptive.