Paid Advertising: Is It a Waste or a Win?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) For Small Businesses
May 10, 2021

Paid advertising is a proven tactic for driving traffic to your website and your social media channels. But it’s also complex—especially during the disruption of the last 15 months.

As a result, your paid advertising can very quickly become a money pit. When yours is a small business with a limited budget, you need to see results—and you definitely don’t want to waste your paid advertising dollars.

How do you make sure that you’re spending wisely—and not throwing dollars into a money pit?

Here’s what you need to know about paid advertising.

Paid advertising in digital marketing strategy

First, it’s important to understand where paid advertising sits in your digital marketing strategy. An effective digital marketing strategy defines the vision and goals of your online efforts to create deeper interactions with customers, from awareness to sale. Typically, digital marketing strategy involves several channels (think email, social media, website, and more) and incorporates owned, earned, and paid media.

Owned media is your content: your website and social media channels. Earned media is gained through partnerships, affiliate links, backlinks, cross-posting, influencer marketing, social media shares and referrals, and media coverage (of all types). Paid media is your paid advertising across all media, including channels such as google, social media, and display networks across the web.

When you use paid advertising effectively, it can be a powerful force in quickly boosting your website and social media traffic—and getting your business in front of customers who are ready to buy. 

But when it’s not used effectively, paid media can blow through your budget very quickly.

This is why success rests on understanding how to plan and evaluate effective campaigns.

Understanding paid advertising types and channels

Effective marketing has always been about the right message to the right customer in the right channel at the right time. This was true even when marketing was mostly about the newspaper, the mailbox, and the TV ad.

Now, of course, it’s much more complex. Marketers and small business owners have a choice of channels, like:

  • Google Adwords and other search engine marketing text ads
  • Web display advertising
  • Social media advertising, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more

While search engine ads can be text-based, banner advertising offers options from simple text ads to animated ads across a number of sizes and shapes. The world of social media has opened up a variety of ad types incorporating text, audio and video.

Success in paid advertising

To be effective with your paid advertising, you should know what some of the terms are and how to consider them as metrics in your overall campaign monitoring and evaluation. Here are the most common terms:

  • PPC: pay-per-click advertising, where you are paying a fee any time someone clicks on your ad
  • CTR: clickthrough rate, or the percent of people who see the ad and click on it
  • CVR: click view rate (also known as CPV, or cost per view) – the average cost per view on a video ad
  • CPM: cost per thousand impressions, the maximum price you are willing to bid for every thousand impressions your ad receives
  • CPA: cost per acquisition, or the cost to transform an impression into a sale

Once you know these terms and what they stand for, how do you evaluate whether your ads are a win or wasted spend? To do this, you’ll need to have some idea of how ads are performing. Let’s use Facebook as an example because it’s a big fish in the paid advertising pond.

The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for all industries across Facebook is 0.89% (source: Word Stream). This means that, across industries, for 1,000 ad impressions, you can expect 8.9 clicks. This rate varies by industry, with some industries (like pets and personal care) hitting higher CTR rates and others, like jobs and education, coming in lower.

Costs per click (CPC) also varies widely by industry and product. As a rule of thumb, more competition for keywords drives the CPC higher. This is why keyword strategy becomes so important in paid advertising campaigns. And it’s a perfect segue to our top tips.

5 tips for effective paid advertising

If you’re ready to stop wasting marketing dollars and start driving more traffic (and better results), there are five key things to bake into your paid advertising.

  • Choose the right keywords. Keywords are the foundation of your paid advertising campaigns. Google Adwords is a good place to start to understand the competition for the broad keywords relevant to your business. Long-tail keywords, or those that are very specific to searches, can be very valuable when included in campaigns.
  • Use clear CTAs. Marketing is all about driving people to take action, but you need to be very clear in giving them the right next step. CTAs, or calls to action, tell your ad viewers what action you wish them to take next. 
  • Drive to landing pages. Many campaigns fall short in not sending clicks to the most effective place. Because text and banner ads can be small and short on text, you’ll need to explain more. A landing page with the right information can boost conversion from click to customer.
  • Ensure your messaging matches. Be sure that your message is consistent from ad to landing page, or you’ll lose your potential customer in the perilous passage between initial interest and sale. Be sure to use the same language between ad and landing page for consistency.
  • Evaluate with an expert. Paid advertising can blow through your budget quickly, so it’s important to get it right.

Done right and managed well, paid advertising can be a powerful way to drive traffic to your website and social channels, helping you increase sales and grow your business. Because paid advertising is complex and can be costly, it’s important to ensure your campaigns are set up properly and are performing well. This is where an investment in expertise can help your business ensure your paid advertising is a win, not a waste.

Ready to win? We can help.

Leave a Reply

We're working throughout the Stay-at-Home order. We can help with Crisis Communication, Social Messaging, Video Production & More.

If you're still working and struggling with what you can do to grow your business through the current shelter in place order, let's discuss!