As new technology continues to change how we use the internet, marketers continue to find new ways to reach their audiences. While there are many free ways to promote your business, paid advertising is often worth the investment. Online advertising, in particular, has become a lucrative option for businesses big and small, and with any size budget. Online ads come in a variety of styles, each with its benefits and weaknesses. This post will go over 6 forms of online advertising to help you determine which one(s) are best for your business.
The first page of Google (or your favorite search engine) is the golden ticket. Having a page of your website show up here amplifies your exposure to users who are actively looking for your help and boosts traffic to your site. However, SEO takes time. And work. And can be difficult to understand.
A quicker way to get seen on a search engine’s first page is through search engine ads, also known as search engine marketing (SEM) or paid search advertising. With this advertising strategy, you shortcut the SEO process by bidding on keywords you want to rank for.
When a user performs a search using your keywords, your ad will appear at the top of the search results page, typically with a disclaimer explaining that it is a paid result. You compete with other bidders for that spot, and the search engine uses such factors as quality score and relevancy to determine which ad will show.
SEM is effective in part because it is targeted toward an audience who wants what you have to offer. If they are willing to click on an ad to see your page, they are more likely to convert into a customer than someone who stumbles upon your page while searching.
One perk of SEM that is often overlooked is the access to data it provides. Search engines want your ads to succeed (a proper ad makes for a pleasant user experience), so they provide plenty of useful analytics to help your campaigns.
While paid search advertising isn’t just for large companies, it can be expensive, so it’s best used when the lifetime value of your customer is high.
Another form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, display ads are found on web pages themselves, as opposed to search results listing web pages. They can appear on the top, bottom, sides, and even in the middle of the content on a page.
Sometimes called banner ads (because of the long, narrow shape they often take at the top of pages) this online advertising type enables you to put your ad on specific pages related to your industry or product. You can also target your ad for particular demographics.
One of the advantages of display ads is the ability to provide graphics or other branded elements to capture your audience’s attention. This can also help build brand awareness because it’s not just your business name, but your brand identity that gets visibility.
While you can target your display ads, they don’t produce the same impact as SEM ads, which reach people in the moment they are searching with your keywords.
Display ads can sometimes fade into the background, so you will want to work to make them visually appealing. You should also be sure to match your landing pages to your display ads to increase their effectiveness in converting new visitors.
In general, display ads are effective if you want to increase visibility on pages you know your potential customers visit.
With more than two billion users (as of June 2017), Facebook presents a fantastic opportunity to reach a wider audience. Because Facebook is a social media site, you can expect more engagement from properly designed ads. They are great for increasing exposure on Facebook itself (through likes and shares), and can also drive more traffic to your website.
Facebook works with advertisers to produce effective ads that don’t disrupt the user experience. This benefits you, Facebook, and your audience.
Much like display ads, Facebook ads come in different forms: Desktop Sidebar, Desktop Feed, and Mobile Feed.
The sidebar is the oldest type of ad on Facebook. These ads appear on the right side of your newsfeed, along with other widgets like “trending” posts or news. They are more likely to be ignored by visitors because they are off to the side, but a gripping image can catch the user’s eye.
Ads within a user’s feed (currently labeled “Suggested Post”) look similar to regular posts. In the way that SEM ads are integrated into search results, the Desktop Feed ad is likely to garner at least a moment’s notice from the viewer because it looks like another post they might be interested in.
The Mobile Feed works in the same way, but ads are targeted to mobile users.
Facebook advertising helps to increase your authority and name recognition. Also, since the platform collects so much data about its users, Facebook can provide some of the most highly targeted ads available. Here, you are not looking at just demographic information (like how old the user is), but also psychographic data. With that data, you can target your ads based on what the audience has “liked” or followed.
Related: Facebook Ad Examples
If your audience loves Twitter, advertising on this platform can be a great way to strengthen engagement and grow your audience. Like Facebook, Twitter ads allow you to promote content offers through users’ feeds, and give you options in terms of cost and results.
Twitter ads come in the form of Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends. You can learn more about the types and cost of Twitter advertising here.
Twitter ads are an effective way to build a following and improve your brand awareness. They also provide extensive tools for tracking conversions and gathering data through your campaigns.
If you’re a master of the pithy and compelling statement, Twitter advertising can be an effective strategy. Just make sure you understand what a follower is truly worth to you. Otherwise, you can easily overspend while acquiring them.
Known as the social media platform for the visually inclined, Instagram presents a nice opportunity to showcase your design talent (or your designer’s).
Whether you choose to advertise through a single image, a carousel, or a video, an effective Instagram ad will immediately grab your reader, driving them to click (or tap, rather) through.
While the cost to advertise on Instagram is currently a bit higher than Facebook and Twitter, these ads provide some of the best click-through rates. This means your audience members are more likely to become followers and ultimately customers.
As you would expect from a subsidiary of Facebook, you’ll be able to fine-tune the targeting of your ads to maximize exposure to the right audience.
If your tribe is on Instagram, or if your products or services make for stunning visuals, advertising on the platform is a great option.
If you’ve ever had the, “Hey, I was just looking at that” reaction to an advertisement, you’ve likely been retargeted.
This type of online advertising falls into a category of its own. Retargeting ads go in front of users who have already expressed interest in your business, such as by visiting your website, liking your Facebook page, or subscribing to your email list.
Retargeting is effective because you can specifically court users who have already shown an interest in your company, your conversion rates are likely to increase. They can be a bit unsettling to users, but essentially, you’re just reminding them that they found value in your site in the past, so they probably will again.The possibilities for retargeting ads are endless, so it’s a technique worth exploring.
With so many organic marketing strategies out there, it’s easy to overlook advertising, but investing in your outreach can accelerate your growth and pay dividends for years. You just need to develop an effective advertising campaign with a specific goal in mind.