There comes a time in every company's life when its owners begin to wonder if it's time to escape the confines of organic marketing reach and implement a paid social strategy.
Not only is this a considerable financial investment, but business owners and their teams also need to spend some serious time determining their strategy, budget, and ultimate goals for turning clicks into conversions.
To get you started on the right track, here's a list of five key questions business owners should ask themselves before diving into the world of paid social ads.
1. Do you have your sales funnel set up?
If you want to maximize your profit, it's imperative that you have your sales funnel dialed in first. If you put all your eggs in one basket and only play one angle for one product, you won't see results and your budget will quickly shrivel up.
Amazon has done a great job of this for years. Say you purchase a book for $20. The site will then offer you a similar book around $30, or recommend packages for buying certain books together. It's a quick and easy way to drive up the transaction price of every sale (and to increase ROI on any paid ad spend involved).
The lessons to be learned here are two-fold - first, make sure the additional products are related to the first. And second, be proactive about setting up a structured funnel.
Not all customers will bite at the upsell, but some will, and it can add up.
2. Do you understand the different types of ads?
It's important you understand ad territory and different types of ads before diving into paid social ads willy-nilly.
Here's a basic rundown of the two primary types of online ads:
Display ads - Banner ads are common because they stand out and you have several options when it comes to shape and size. Advantage: they are highly visible and effective attention-grabbers. Disadvantage: they usually target customers who may not be looking for something new.
For instance, if you're going about your morning routine of reading your favorite digital news outlet, you might not be interested in the ad you see selling engagement rings or promoting a new graphic design course.
Text ads - These types of ads are the ones you see on Google's search page. Advantage: text ads are generally cheaper than display ads and you can target customers who are searching for something specific. Disadvantage: cost-per-clicks (CPCs) can be high, depending on your industry.
Before you dive into text ads, make sure you research what keywords will work best for your business and consider experimenting with A/B testing (here's a great piece on Facebook A/B testing by AdEspresso).
3. Do you know how you'll track results?
If you don't have a game plan to track your ad results, you won't know how your ads are performing or how to tweak your ads to yield better results during your next campaign. A key benefit of paid ads is that you're able to track everything.
Google Analytics is the star player when it comes to online ad buying and analytics. And the best part - it's free and user-friendly.
Once you set up your Google Analytics Custom Campaigns, you can create a customized URL for each ad and track the overall performance for all of your campaigns.
KISSmetrics is another great tool for tracking ads - it lets you can create a funnel report for your ads that'll show you the traffic you received from every ad, as well as any clicks that turned into leads, purchases, and possibly even long-term subscribers.
Tools like KISSmetrics can be pexpensive, but I still recommend looking into them, if you can. While clicks and traffic are a good start, the end goal is to convert your ads into sales. Proper tracking will show you how and when you're doing so, enabling you to demonstrate the true value of every ad.
4. Do you understand the social platforms where you're creating your ads?
We've all heard the word "diversification," and we all want our companies to be present on every platform. But do you truly understand the ins, outs and functions of every platform? If not, it's important to conquer that territory before you actually put your money on the line and place ads.
Pick one platform and master it. Then move onto the next.
There's a lot to learn when it comes to paying for ads on heavy-hitters like Facebook and YouTube, and the learning curve can be steep. And while most PPC platforms operate in similar manners, they might not yield similar results. What has an outstanding click-through rate (CTR) on Twitter might be static on Facebook and vice-versa.
It may sound cliché, but remember that "Rome wasn't built in a day."
Take your time mastering one platform before diving into others.
5. Who will run your social media campaigns?
You may have previously associated social media management with interns and entry-level employees - but in reality, social media is a legit position that requires someone to have a firm grasp on it in order to succeed.
Do you really have the time to handle that responsibility as a business owner? Do you want to hire an in-house social media coordinator? Or do you, perhaps, want to outsource these duties to a digital marketing agency that specializes in social media management?
There are pros and cons for every option, but social media ad management can't be thrown on the backburner if you want your campaigns to be effective.
Your ads need to be congruent with your company's voice, so avoid letting amateurs tackle your social media projects. Your ad manager also needs to take the reins on budgeting and analytic reporting, as well as understanding the ROI your company is aiming for. Basically, you need somebody who can be a copywriter, customer service representative, and analyst all in one.
It seems like a lot to manage, but once you have a solid foundation in online advertising, you can really hit the ground running and see the results pay off for your company. Don't expect to see a positive ROI in just a couple of weeks, and remember to keep going to back to the drawing board to re-hone strategies, target markets, and spends.
Spend some serious time outlining your budget and your proposed strategy, and always keep in mind that there's no magic pixie dust that will automatically make your ads effective. Every company is different, so patience is paramount.