EDITOR'S NOTE: This training is quite a bit longer than the others - 20+ minutes long, whew! I had to be sure that you got the whole picture of how the ad campaigns work, hence the length.
Hello and welcome to day 3 of your online marketing training! Before we dive into talking about online ads, let’s have a quick review of what we’ve covered so far.
On day one we looked at analytics, deciding what actions are important to measure and tracking those actions as goals to determine which of our online marketing efforts is most successful in meeting those goals.
On day two we talked about customer personas or avatars – essentially a profile of our ideal customer, and how the characteristics of a particular person can be used to create content and marketing copy that resonates and influences buying decisions.
Today, we’re going to bring these two lessons together and use them to create and optimize paid ad campaigns.
There are three main types of paid advertising that we’re going to discuss today: search ads, display ads, and retargeting ads. In general, search ads are text-based ads like those you see alongside Google search results.
So, for example, someone searches for a phrase such as "WordPress SEO plug-in" and several listings come up. If your company sells an SEO plug-in for WordPress, you might have an ad on the sidebar which talks about your product in an effort to get people to click through and purchase.
Display advertising, on the other hand, is all about banners and videos and other types of visuals which are often shown alongside content that may or may not be related. Display advertising is not as targeted as search advertising – in most cases display advertising is limited to the demographics that visit a particular site.
Again, going with our SEO plug-in example you might decide to have display advertising or banner ads show on a site about WordPress themes because people who are looking for themes for WordPress site might also be interested in having an SEO plug-in for their site.
Retargeting advertising is a special type of display advertising. I'm sure you've seen online instances where you've been browsing for a particular product, maybe shoes or jewelry or even gardening supplies.
What will happen is after you've browsed on the website for a while, you'll start to see advertising for those products that you are looking at on different websites. It almost seems like they are "following" you around the internet reminding you of the purchase that you intended to make. And in fact, they are.
In their simplest form, retargeting ads show display advertising to people who have already visited a particular page or pages on your site. Let's say someone visited the pricing page for your plug-in but they didn't buy. You might have a retargeting ad with a special offer or coupon that you show only to these people. So someone comes to your site they visit your pricing page and they leave. Once they leave, the display advertising for your website with the special coupon is shown to them on a variety of different sites that they visit.
The goal with retargeting is to bring this potential customer back so that they complete the sale.
Now, you can have an advertising campaign with any one of these types of ads. However, in most cases you will have either a search or display advertising campaign combined with a retargeting campaign to get the best result.
How we set up these ads directly builds on what we've learned in days one and two. To start with you will be setting up a test case. Your test case is basically your educated guess on what type of pain points most influence your target audience to buy.
From there, you create your ad copy. We'll go into more specifics about exactly how to create ad copy for search ads, and for text for display ads and social media ads in the full course. For now, just know that your ad copy needs to make a very specific promise to your target audience that addresses a very specific pain point.
Your ad will then direct to a specific page on your website called the landing page. On this landing page you will present your offer. The offers that tend to work best are ones that closely mirror the promise that you put into your initial ad messaging.
Depending upon your offer, the next step may be to fill out a form, add a product to a shopping cart, or take some other action on your website such as watching a video. The end goal will be the completion of one of the actions that you have set up in your initial analytics assessment.
So for our plug-in example, we might have several different goals: Maybe there's a free e-book on optimizing your WordPress site that allows us to get leads to add to our email list. We will also have the goal of getting the person to purchase the SEO plug-in. And we might have something like a free trial, or free feature limited plug-in that people can download.
Each of these three goals has a different value in terms of how interested someone is in our product, but they also have a different value just on the basis of generating revenue. Obviously the sale of our plug-in is the main goal, though we might need the other goals to support our efforts.
And we'll talk more about lead nurturing as we get into marketing automation, but just know that in some cases your funnel may take more than the three steps of ad to landing page to purchase.
To start your pay per click campaign, you might have two different types of messaging to compare for results. Keep your budget as low as possible while still getting clicks. At this stage what we want to do is optimize our advertising and once we find an ad that works, then will start to spend more
As we run our advertising campaign, we will get a lot of data about what types of messaging are most effective. Where some people run into trouble is that they optimize based on the number of clicks an ad receives. The logic goes the more clicks you get to the webpage, the more opportunities for conversion.
However, a better option is to optimize for conversions. This means looking at which ads ultimately drive the most revenue. If you're tracking your advertising campaigns – and Google AdWords makes it easy for you to track through conversions as does Facebook advertising – then it's fairly simple using filters and reporting to see which ads are actually driving revenue for you.
Start putting more funding into those advertising campaigns that that are getting you conversions and that also have a positive ROI. Basically, you want to get more money out than you are putting in. If you are not yet generating a positive ROI with your advertising, keep adjusting your ads or your landing pages until you are.
Knowing what it is you need to adjust also means digging into your analytics. Look for areas where user engagement shows a sharp drop off. For example, maybe you are getting a lot of click-throughs on your ads but then people bounce on your landing pages. If that's the case, the messaging on your landing pages may need more refinement.
If people visit the next page in the funnel – let's say pricing page – but then leave when they get to the order form, it may be an issue with your form or it may be an issue with the messaging on the page with the form, or even with the layout or the overall trustworthiness in the way your website presents itself. These issues will vary from website to website, so you'll need to look at your own data to determine where the problems are and start adjusting to make improvements there.
Once you have a positive ROI, you can start adding additional money into your online marketing budget for advertising. As I said, you add more money to those ads that are performing best, and as you do so you start looking at ways to refine and improve your results. If you have only a little traffic, the tests that you will run will need to be bigger – bigger changes and bigger differences between your original page and the test version of your page.
And that's the pay per click marketing process in a nutshell. Create an offer that your audience responds to based on what you know, test different positioning, and optimize. If you've already got your analytics in place, and you've already done the research for your personas and know what's important to them, creating the advertising campaign will be relatively easy.
In the full training, will look at different types of advertising and how to set everything up and that includes in Google AdWords, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, and retargeting ads through platforms such as Perfect Audience and AdRoll. We may also cover banner ads and targeted website placement on such platforms such as BuySellAds.
For now, let’s take a look at some common challenges people face when they start running their advertising campaigns.
By far, the biggest problem I see when people are just starting out with running advertising is that they come at it without a solid plan. They know they want to have more people visit their website to buy their product or sign up for their service, so what they’ll do is sign up for AdWords, pick some keywords, come up with an ad and start pointing that ad directly at their homepage.
This very seldom works to get conversions for two reasons. One is that the advertising space can be very competitive so people end up paying a very high cost per click. When you combine this with low conversion rates, what happens is that people end up spending more for each conversion than they make on the sale. If you’re curious about whether or not your advertising campaigns have a positive ROI, I have a free tool on the website here which will show you if your advertising campaigns are making you money or costing you money. I recommend you play around with the numbers on there to see how much you can afford to pay per click and still have a positive ROI based on your conversions and sales numbers.
The second reason that this doesn’t work is that online advertising is very much a consumers’ market. Buyers have all the power, and they know it. People aren’t going to work any more than they have to, to get what they want. For example, let’s say you want to buy a new television. You have some idea of how big you want it to be, but you aren’t committed to a particular brand yet.
So you do a quick Google search for “50-inch television” and the first ad that comes up says they have a sale so you click. And when you click… you arrive at the homepage of a big electronics store. No televisions are on the front page, and there’s no mention of the sale anywhere that you can see at first glance. Do you stick around to try to find the televisions? Maybe, if it was a very good sale advertised. But most likely you get annoyed and hit the back button to try another ad or search result. You already know that you shouldn’t have to search for what you want twice – you told Google what you were looking for, and you expect the page you get to from that search to have what you need.
People sometimes forget this when they are on the other side of the transaction, because we get too familiar with our own websites and products and we think “it’s only a couple of clicks” but for people who are used to getting exactly what they want right away, a couple of clicks may be a couple too many. So, people get caught up there without a plan from the start and run into difficulties.
The second area where people get caught up is in looking at the wrong data. I know I mentioned this already when we were talking about how to set up your campaigns, but it’s important enough to bear repeating – clicks don’t matter if they don’t translate into sales. If you are getting a lot of irrelevant clicks, it’s the same as paying people to look around in your store and then leave. The ROI calculator I talked about earlier will help you figure out your sweet spot, but in general, the higher your conversion rate, the more you can afford to pay for clicks. And the higher your profit margin on your online sales, the more you can afford to pay for a click.
The third area where people falter at times is with targeting. If you got your personas done from Day 2, then great you’re all set. When people run into trouble is in trying to target “everybody” when it comes to their product. Even if everybody can use an item, it doesn’t mean that everyone will, and it doesn’t mean that everyone has the same reasons for wanting to use it. Segmenting via personas is helpful because it provides a way to get a handle on the messaging for advertising so you can get very specific and really engage your target audience.
In the case of advertising on sites like Facebook, having an understanding of your target audience is essential as you can reach out to a multitude of people based on interests and demographic data – which in turn lets you get better results faster and without spending as much money.
The fourth area is something we haven’t really discussed, and again it’s touching a bit on marketing automation and lead nurturing which we’ll get into more on the last day of this course. However, it’s important to realize that not everyone is going to purchase from you the first time they see your website. In fact, most people won’t be. People tend to buy from those they like, know, and trust and if it’s the first time anyone’s ever seen your site you may not be able to convince them to take the plunge right away. However, you can get many people to sign up for a free trial, an ebook, a guide – some piece of information that is valuable to them and that is worth giving up their personal information for – at least a name and an email address. From there, you have captured a lead that you can then begin to nurture. As they hear more from you, they grow to trust you and may eventually make that purchase.
If your advertising campaign does not have built-in lead gathering, you’re leaving money on the table. People are essentially visiting your site and maybe they’re interested but not right now and with no way to contact these people again, there’s no way to guarantee that you will be top of mind when they are ready to purchase. So it just makes sense to invest as much as you can on making that first connection and getting people onto your email list so that you can build that relationship which leads to sales.
Lastly, the area where a lot of people miss out on an opportunity to convert is with retargeting ads. And this goes back to what I talked about earlier in today’s training – where the ads seem to follow you around after you’ve visited the website. Done well, you can gain more leads and sales through your retargeting campaign and it gives you the opportunity to connect with people who didn’t respond to your initial offer without having to gather their contact information. One tip I will share if you decide to go the retargeting route – always exclude people who have made a purchase recently. If you have a confirmation page, build an audience for that page and exclude anyone who has purchased in the last week or so, especially if you are running a sale. It can be frustrating to say the least if you’ve just made a purchase and then see the same item advertised for less.
To wrap up, let’s take a quick dive into landing page logistics, so you know a little more about how to build a landing page that will actually convert your visitors into buyers.
When you’re crafting your landing page, keep in mind the entire flow of the conversion process. It can help to break things down into mini-conversions to give you an idea of what it is you want to accomplish at each stage of the funnel itself. For example, with your ads, the goal is to get people to click and learn more about your offer. Once they get to the landing page, the goal is to get people interested enough to take the next step. What’s the next step? It could be filling out a form as I said earlier. It could be clicking through to see pricing. It could be getting on the phone to contact you. Regardless, there are several ways to help guide people into taking that next step, and that’s what we’re going to discuss here.
First up is customer-centric messaging. What do we mean by that? In simplest terms, it means that your messaging is about addressing pain points and presenting benefits. I’m sure you’ve heard about the practice of writing about benefits and not features when it comes to sales copy, and that’s very true. The goal is to get your prospect thinking about their problem, the frustration it represents, it’s limitations… while at the same time positioning yourself as an expert that understands those frustrations and how to solve them in a way that’s going to be simple.
Sometimes, you can even frame the problem as something that the prospect didn’t know that he or she needed. I’ll give you an example. I recently bought a clever little app that sits on top of Facebook Ads and helps to create audiences that you use to target your ad campaigns. Basically it lets you search interests and groups based on keyword phrases. Now, I already know how to create audiences from scratch, and I’m very good at narrowing down my demographics to what I’m looking for. I do it for myself, I do it for clients and I’ve basically gotten the process as streamlined as I can get it on my own.
This tool takes all of the methods I use for creating those audiences and simplifies it. Cuts the time way, way down. I didn’t realize how much time I spend on creating an audience from scratch until I saw this app but once I saw it, I knew I needed it. This person got me as a customer in less than five minutes because he clearly demonstrated a pain point I didn’t even know I had until I was made aware of it.
And this takes us right into the second point – providing believable proof. This app had a video on the sales page that clearly demonstrated exactly how fast it was to get the audiences set up. Basically a tutorial that showed how to use the app as well as how the app functioned. A complete proof of concept. So in that moment I knew that the app worked – I was looking at the user interface on the screen. I also saw exactly how to use it for a specific purpose. The purchase was through PayPal, so I didn’t have to give an unfamiliar site access to my credit card information, and there was a 30 day guarantee. All of that made it easy to say yes. So when you’re looking at crafting an offer where a person is going to be making a purchase, make sure your message is believable.
There are lots of ways to do that – if you’re doing some lead nurturing, maybe you’ve sent out a few case studies or whitepapers. If you’ve got an app, make some tutorial videos so people see how your app functions, or set up a demo account so people can try before they buy it. Some companies go with the “freemium” model where people can use the app for free, but with limited features until they upgrade. It really depends on what you’re trying to sell as to how you demonstrate the proof that it works.
Taking that a step further, be clear about what your offer entails. People should know exactly what they are getting when they make a purchase. In the case of the app, is it a monthly license or a one-time fee. Does it come with support? Do I get any training? All of those questions need to be answered and made clear. If there are frequently asked questions that people have before they buy from you, make sure those answers are easy to get to – either in a popup or further down the page in a Q&A section or even on another page, so long as its easy to find.
The last main point to consider is keeping your tone and messaging consistent from the beginning of the funnel to the end. If you’re buying accounting software and the ad talks about the trusted name of the firm that makes it, the integrity and security of the product… but you get to the landing page and it’s all about how accounting is fun and the copy is very lighthearted and whimsical, you will feel a disconnect there. And even if this is the software made by that prestigious firm, you may feel as though the product is less trustworthy because the messaging that brought you to the page is nowhere to be found.
Consistency helps to guide your prospects along the path to conversion. Basically, you are holding their hand for each step in this process, and the goal is to build with little baby steps, the logical progression from your ad copy to your offer to getting them to fill out that form or make that purchase. Any inconsistencies along the way will make this more difficult. People decide to buy something emotionally at first. It’s emotions that sense of ‘want’ and lacking something that is needed is what spurs the initial purchasing intent. Once it’s there, the logical part of the brain takes over and tries to pick apart the offer – essentially looking for any reasons to say “no”. If you don’t jog them out of it, that initial emotional response can carry over from the first click to the final conversion – whether that takes a few minutes or a few months depends on what you’re selling, but the basic premise is the same.
So now you have an idea of how to set up your initial advertising campaign, and what you can do to optimize your funnel so that you get conversions. When we talk on day 4, we’ll look at email marketing – some more information on how to get people onto your email list, as well as ways to optimize your messages so that they get read and people take action. As always, please feel free to comment and let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks, and take care.
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