"When you've got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?" asks Mark Cuban. Or, let's be honest, why would you want to be anything other than number one? In the cutthroat world of online advertising, however, it can be a struggle to even be number 10,001. I can't tell you how many small business owners I've seen that struggle with online marketing, especially the competitive world of banner ads. Whether it's a poorly designed ad that's missing a compelling call to action or a great ad that's simply placed on the wrong website or social media network, online ads can quickly become a financial black hole.
Without an effective strategy, online advertising can quickly go from a cost-effective tactic to an expensive waste of money for you and your clients. Mastering the basics of online banner ads and social media advertising is a must for today's advertising agencies. The good news is that with the right online resources - like a free or low cost online banner maker - you really can handle the basics of online advertising in-house without the need to outsource to a freelancer or sub-contractor. Here's how:
#1: Research, research, research.
Want to know the secret formula of your most successful competitors? Then head straight to SpyFu or Keyword Spy, two popular tools that give you insight into your competitor's paid search practices. Using these tools, you can track a competitor's average daily spend for a PPC campaign. This is especially useful for businesses that are new to paid search and not sure how much they should be investing, especially in comparison to the competition. Even better, you'll have access to the competitor's PPC keywords so you can identify which terms your competitors are bidding on and structure your own bidding strategy accordingly. Download keywords and ad copy lists into Excel for quick comparison and searching.
#2: Design your ads.
You don't need to spend a fortune on expensive graphic designers. Bannersnack and Fotor Banner Maker are two great resources for all-in-one banner making for ad agencies. The both include pre-designed templates for easy customization. Both allow you to download your banners once they are created. With Bannersnack, you can also use their advertising program to reach your audience.
#3: Manage your ads.
Here's where folks usually get tripped up in the online advertising process. Designing ads is pretty straightforward, but managing the ads can be more of a challenge. Sure, you can pop any ad up on Google Display Network or Facebook, but doing so is no guarantee that these ads will be optimized for performance.
Running keyword targeting and retargeting can be complicated and time consuming, especially if you are juggling display ads on desktop and mobile. Bannersnack's ad campaign management can be a real lifesaver here. Their backend auto-optimization feature is fully integrated with keyword targeting and retargeting for streamlined performance and simplified reporting.
#4: Optimize your advertising strategy.
You've researched the competition, designed your ads and launched your ad campaign. Now it's time to optimize your ad campaign for performance. In order to optimize performance, you need to set clear goals. For example, do you already have a steady stream of visitors coming to your website but are struggling to get these visitors through the check-out process? If so, you'll want to run re-targeting campaigns to bring back visitors and increase conversions. On the flip side, if your web traffic is light, you'll want to use targeted ads to bring new customers to your website. One benefit of using a service like Bannersnack is that you'll also get access to "engagement rate" metrics, which tell you the percentage of users who interact with your landing page after they click on your ad. Use these stats to identify
#5: Get social.
With more than 1.35 billion monthly users, Facebook is the king of social media and their display ad network is a highly coveted destination for advertisers. Facebook desktop ads have 8.1x higher click-through rates and mobile ads have 9.1x higher click-through rates than normal web ads. Promoted Tweets have up to three times the average engagement rate of non-promoted tweets.
If you're new to social media advertising, beta-test your paid ads via free services. For example, your clients may already be posting daily messages on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to interact with their followers. The best performing messages are the ones that are clicked, shared and commented on the most. These messages should be the basis for your client's paid ad campaign.
When it comes to social media advertising, you can spend a lot or a little -it just depends on your budget and your goals. $99 Social is one of the most affordable social media advertising platforms that creates individualized content for small businesses and will post daily to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. If your budget is a bit bigger, then Zog Digital can manage all aspects of a Facebook, YouTube and Twitter advertising campaign, including advanced data layering and targeting for real-time engagement.
#6: Manage leads.
Now that you've optimized your banner advertising, you've got leads pouring in the door, right? (If not, go back to Step 4 and 5.) The final step for successful online advertising is managing these newly acquired leads. Keep in mind that not all leads may be ready to convert overnight into clients. Leads need to be cultivated and nurtured. This is why it is critical that you have a lead management system in place from day one so no lead falls through the cracks. Salesforce and Salesnexus are two popular lead management options that bake in CRM software with email marketing for consistent contact that delivers conversions. With both of these services you can automate lead generation and management (for example, scheduling an email to send after a certain number of days) so you spend more time on clients that are primed for a sale.
#7: Follow up with email.
You've put in a lot of work to acquire your leads; don't let them go cold. Seventy nine percent of marketing leads never convert into sales because they are not effectively nurtured, according to MarketingSherpa. On the flip side, the Annuitas Group reports that nurtured leads make 47 percent more purchases than non-nurtured leads. Stay in regular touch with email marketing campaigns. GetResponse and Salesnexus are two industry leaders in B2B lead nurturing campaigns via email marketing. These campaigns focus on educating qualified sales leads that are simply not ready to pull the trigger and make a purchase. Delivering valuable content via email keeps leads engaged while also establishing your business as an industry thought leader. When it's time to make a purchase, leads that have been carefully nurtured via email marketing campaigns are more likely to turn to your clients.
Getting your own display advertising campaign off the ground can seem daunting at first. The key is not letting yourself become overwhelmed with the details or try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, take advantage of existing free or low-cost tools for online banner creation, keyword research, campaign management, lead management and email marketing. By strategically using existing resources, you can jump ahead of the competition - and be number one in your industry, rather than number 10,001.