Consumers not only spend more time online, they do more things, go more places, and engage differently than ever before. And although organic SEO exposure continues to have great value, more and more online marketers now leverage these activities through paid advertising to boost their brand and generate more direct response.
Unfortunately, practices that have not established well-planned goals, identified the proper platforms, or executed the right messages and campaign quickly become impatient, experience frustration and quit in disappointment. They abandon online advertising and say it “just didn't work for me.”
To make sure this doesn't happen to you, or if it did, what can you do to improve your chances for success?
The State of Digital Advertising (paid)
Adweek recently projects that digital advertising will grow nearly 16% in 2017 and exceed the $83 billion mark. Facebook leads the projected growth race with a jump of 32% (Google will increase 14.8%). But Google still controls nearly 41% of the overall US digital ad market (Facebook is around 20%).
Most of Google’s share is in search (PPC) where eMarketer anticipates it will claim $28.5 billion.
However, Facebook continues to grow in the display advertising arena, specifically, mobile. Facebook currently makes up nearly 40% of the display advertising market, which equals about $12.4 billion with projections to reach about $24 billion by 2019. Google’s US display advertising revenue for 2017 is projected to be $5.2 billion.
There is no question that digital advertising has become an essential part of a healthy, diversified Internet marketing effort. The key is to make sure you utilize the proper platform, at the right time and with the right messaging to meet specific goals.
Differences Between PPC and Display Advertising
To ensure you reach, and even exceed your goals, you must first recognize the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and strategies associated with each option. It is not about which option is the best. Rather, it is about which one should you use (or combination thereof) at a given time to obtain a certain objective.
The cost for pay-per-click advertising through Google Adwords is probably not new to most practices. In highly competitive markets and industries the cost for a single click can be extremely expensive. In fact, Wordstream just came out with The 25 Most Expensive Keywords in Adwords – 2017 Edition.
Not surprising, the top searches come to nearly $60 per click. Of course, this is probably higher than the average click-through cost for your keyword phrases and market, but you get the point: Pay-per-click advertising can come with a relatively high cost to generate a visit to your website.
On the other hand, the reach and exposure from display advertising is far greater than PPC campaigns and the average cost-per-impression and click is generally much less than Google Adwords. In industries with high PPC costs, the average cost per visitor from display advertising can be a fraction of what you pay in a Google Adwords campaign.
In many cases, we have seen cost-per-visitor charges from Facebook and even Google display advertising average as little as $2-$5 per visitor. Wordstream also shared Facebook display advertising costs and performance by industry, where the average cost per click (CPC) across all industries was $1.72
Of course cost is an important factor in advertising, but there are other criteria that you also need to consider.
Active vs. Passive Exposure
In addition to relative costs, the type of exposure also has a significant impact on the value of the advertising.
Unlike other mass media, the Internet is an interactive medium where your target audience can participate in the delivery and consumption of your message and information; the more participation from your audience, the more valuable the exposure and engagement.
In display advertising, you can utilize tremendous user data to target your highest quality audience. You can also develop highly custom ads and promotions that appeal to their interests and demographics.
But keep in mind, your ads, like other interruption-type advertising, will appear while they are engaged in other online activities, such as checking their Facebook community, viewing their Instagram feed, visiting news or special interest websites, etc. Exposure using display advertising can be targeted, but it is still passive.
Alternatively, search-related advertising garners exposure while your target audience actively seeks and researches information, reviews, examples and providers. They are actively participating in the process of gathering data about you, your services, and results.
Search exposure doesn’t allow you to target audiences by demographics and push exposure like display advertising, but it does help you reach your most qualified audience – someone actively demonstrating an interest in you or your services based on search-related activity.
The Sales Funnel – Early vs. Late
Regardless of the nature and scope of your services, your prospects go through a decision-making process to ultimately select your practice. Sales and marketing experts describe this process in the form of a “sales funnel.”
Depending on the type of service, the length of the sales funnel may be a matter of days, weeks, months or even years, and it can also vary by prospect.
Understanding the buying process of your prospects is a key element to ensuring you distribute your marketing efforts and dollars in the right areas, and implement campaigns that appeal to prospects at target stages of the sales funnel.
Typically, early or top of the funnel marketing is associated with creating awareness and brand marketing. It is generally higher-reach advertising to demographically selected audiences. The vast majority of growth in digital display advertising is driven by brand advertisers reallocating media dollars from traditional advertising (TV, radio, print, billboard, etc.) to the Web.
Search marketing (both PPC and organic SEO) and remarketing/retargeting campaigns typically have significantly lower reach than display advertising, but have higher quality exposure to consumers that are later in the sales funnel. The average cost per visitor at this stage comes with a much higher cost, but generates a much higher direct response as prospects take more actions.
Importance of Diversity
This does not imply that you should only focus on late sales-funnel marketing.
Effective brand marketing has circumvented how consumers research, compare and choose. Most successful practices are seeing significantly more direct website traffic (typing URL) or visitors coming from “branded” searches (includes the name of the practice and/or provider).
By diversifying your exposure throughout the sales funnel, you not only generate more high-quality leads, you insulate your practice from competitors and become less vulnerable than focusing exclusively on a single marketing effort (ex. a handful of SEO search phrases).
5 Tips To Leverage Paid Advertising
Tip #1 - Daypart – Many practices establish a monthly paid advertising budget, define the demographic/geographic profiles their target audience and simply runs ads. Unfortunately, they overlook their own practice’s abilities, limitations and opportunities. If the focus of a specific campaign is direct response leads, then your ability to deliver high quality intake to convert them needs to be part of your strategy. Or, if you offer services and support at times your competitors don’t, you may have an opportunity to double down on your marketing and convert leads when you competitors are closed or asleep.
Tip #2 – Mobile: Focus on phone calls – More and more online advertising target mobile users specifically and develop mobile-focused campaigns. Make sure your ad messaging, images, and calls-to-action focus on telephone lead generation. Not only is mobile ideal for converting visitors into telephone calls, your practice is much more prepared and trained to manage and convert telephone leads. In these cases, it is important to view, assess and update your campaigns’ ads, landing pages, graphics, links, etc. through your smartphone and not exclusively through your desktop.
Tip #3 – Include Promotions For Early Sales Funnel Conversions – Most practices strive to get broader reach at a lower cost, yet still generate leads that convert into new clients and customers. Typically, this means reaching consumers who are earlier in the sales funnel. To convert them into leads and not just create awareness for your services and brand, it’s all about your offer. You need to consider compelling promotions that stimulate interest, engage curiosity, create desire and lowers/eliminates barriers of entry.
Tip #4 – Create Synergy & Enhance SEO Through Paid Ads – Utilize multi-channel digital marketing strategies as part of your paid advertising campaigns. In addition to leads, driving interested, local traffic to relevant, high-priority pages of your website can also help boost the page’s authority and SEO value, particularly if you develop knock-out resource pages. Review these key website pages to make sure they are substantive, graphically engaging, and promote strong calls-to-action. Even delivered visitors that may not immediately convert into an actual lead can add value to your website pages.
Tip #5 – Retarget Whenever Possible – In conjunction with the previous tip, once you generate traffic to the website, it is important to develop strategic campaigns to retarget these website visitors, whenever possible. The time and cost to generate exposure for your website demands you go the extra mile to stay in front of them as they move down the sales funnel. Keep in mind, Google does not allow retargeting for select industries due to privacy concerns, but Facebook and Bing allow marketers to retarget within these industries.