Most business owners are turning to the Internet as a way to advertise more cheaply, while getting your ads in front of a very targeted audience. Social media ad filters even allow you to get your info in front of a very specific, local group of people. However, as you probably already know, just throwing a bunch of money at online ads isn’t a very good use of your advertising dollars.
According to Infogr.am, as much as 77% of online display ads aren't seen by the intended audience. In fact, most people are more likely to complete Navy SEAL training than they are to click on a banner ad. It is vital that you have a strategic plan for your online marketing if you want to gain leads from your efforts.
Instead, there are some very specific things you can look at when planning your online advertising to ensure that you get the most value for your marketing budget.
1. Where to Spend Your Ad Dollars
Even though businesses are beginning to realize the importance of online advertising, the balance is still pretty skewed toward other types of advertising for most businesses. In a survey conducted by the Duke School of Business, researchers found marketers spent only 13% of their advertising budgets on social media in 2015. By 2019, that number is expected to increase by 21%.
Does that mean that you should spend 13-21% on social media? That is a tricky question to answer, because it all depends on where your potential clients hang out most often. Let’s assume that as a service industry business, you want to reach homeowners between the ages of 25-49 within 50 miles of your business.
Social media allows you to very narrowly target that specific group. For example, on Facebook, you can even refine your target audience by the types of groups they like, such as home improvement groups. On the other hand, a well-placed Google ad can drive traffic to your site of people who have searched for a specific term, such as “HVAC companies in Atlanta, Georgia.”
The best thing to do at first is to split your ads between social media and other forms. Create separate landing pages for each type of advertising, so you can track results. If you get more leads from social media, you can always up the percentage of your social media marketing spending.
2. Hire a Social Media Manager
Another option is to use your budget to hire a social media manager. This person can help you come up with ideas for when and where to advertise, post regularly on your social media pages, and help you gain followers who might be interested in the services you offer.
An experienced social media manager doesn’t come cheap, but you can start off with a few hours a week and see how it goes. The great thing about someone who is experienced with social media marketing is that they will know exactly when to post, what to post, and even how to form questions to get the most likes, comments, and shares.
3. Newsletter and Email Advertising
Are newsletters still effective for advertising? Daniel Newman, President of Broadsuite, wrote in Entrepreneur, “Email is definitely NOT dead.” He points to the fact that over 200 million emails are sent out every minute of every day. This is proof, he says, that email is still a big form of communication. A huge percentage of consumers prefer that companies send them email communications. So, if you are not focusing at least some of your effort on email advertising, you should be.
First, you need an online mailing list. This allows you to communicate statistics, facts, and sale information to your current customer base. Entice them to sign up by offering something unique, such as a small discount or a free guide.
However, don’t overlook that advantage of advertising in other people’s newsletters. If your advertising budget is tight, you can probably trade ads. A reciprocal agreement can work out well for both businesses and will only cost you each a little time. For example, you might team up with a local plumber. He would put a short note in his next email newsletter about your HVAC services. You, in turn, would do the same for him. This gains you both access to one another’s customers.
4. Banner Ads
If you are going to pay for a banner ad, make sure it is on a site that reaches your exact target demographic. Also, you need an ad that is going to really grab site visitors’ attention. Hire a professional graphic artist to design your ad. A copy editor can help with the wording, as the ad should have a strong Call to Action to entice the reader to click on it.
Compare the costs of paying for the banner to run for a full month versus a week. You also should track how successful the ad is (how many clicks are you getting?), so you know whether to continue or try something different.
5. Video Marketing
Newman uses a branded YouTube channel to promote his business. He states that 44% of people prefer a video to learn about a new product or service. He advises that you keep it simple.
“You don’t need $10,000 and professional actors to make a brand video that sticks. This isn’t Hollywood, and you’re not trying to win an Oscar.”
Consider a series to explain the differences between different heating units or the importance of changing your air filter regularly.
6. Search Engine Advertising
There is still a place for Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. If you are smart about the keyword phrases you choose for your search engine ads, then you’ll gain visitors who are already interested in buying the services you offer. While the cost of clicks has risen in recent years, it is still a fairly inexpensive way to gain a lead compared to traditional advertising methods.
Use tools such as Google Analytics to figure out exactly what people are searching for that applies to your business. So, you might want to start by researching terms, such as Atlanta heating and cooling. You can then narrow your search from there.
Whether you have $500 to spend or $5,000 to spend on advertising on the Web, be strategic about the way you spend your dollars. A nice mix between social media, email advertising, banner ads, and other digital ads will show you which audience is most receptive. The best way to spend your advertising dollars is to track everything and repeat what works best.
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