If you missed it, check out Part 1 of the Digital Marketing Basics guide!
After you set up your online presence, you’ll want to drive traffic to your website and social media accounts. In the ever-changing field of digital marketing, there is a multitude of ways that you can begin to promote and grow your business. In this Digital Marketing Basics post, we’ll go over how to start advertising online and using basic analytics to optimize your online presence.
Digital advertising gives you an opportunity to target extremely specific and targeted audiences, allowing you to both narrow in on your potential customers, and advertise to people who have interacted with your brand in the past. This can be extremely cost effective, and offer you a fantastic ROI compared to more traditional marketing channels like TV, radio, and newspapers, which can be expensive and might not reach an impactful audience.
There are a variety of different ways that you can look at advertising online, but as a basic overview three of the most common online advertising channels are:
1. Search Ads
Search ads are an auction based system, where advertisers can place a “bid” to show up in the search result page when users conduct a search using a search engine. The highest bid for a specific keyword or phrase is generally the ad that will show up first on a search engine result page. The cost of these ads can vary depending on your competition, how specific of a search result you are targeting, and what rank you are trying to achieve on the results page. The higher the ranking, the more expensive the ad will be. The major player in search engine ads is Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords), although Bing offers a similar service for their platform.
A major benefit of search engine ads is that you are reaching an audience that is actively searching for results within your industry. That can be extremely valuable, as reaching an audience at this stage can lead to an easier conversion for whatever metric you are trying to achieve (online purchase, visit to website, etc.).
2. Display Ads
Display ads are the advertisements that you commonly see on the sides of websites. These are paid placements, ran through Google Ads. Display ads operate a little differently than search ads in that they are more of an impression and awareness piece than a traffic driver. Most people won’t click on a display ad on the side of a website, but used properly they can be an effective supplementary piece to your overall marketing strategy. They are also highly targetable by demographic or psychographic categories, which can lead to effective placements if you know exactly what audience you are trying to reach with your ads.
Unlike search engine ads, these may take a little bit of design skill to make sure you are putting out high quality placements. You want to grab the attention of users, and instill awareness for your brand. This means you’ll want to have visually appealing ads, with the right amount of information for your message to get across. You don’t want to bog down users with overwhelming amounts of text or information.
3. Social Media Ads
While you can place ads on essentially every social network, not every social network is a perfect fit for every brand. It can be more effective to focus on a social network that is most relevant to your target market and you have had success using organic content. Depending on your demographic, different social media channels might work better for your marketing efforts as well.
Facebook is still the most used social network in the world, and as such it can be a very effective way to increase your social media reach. You can target your ads to extremely specific geographic and demographic audiences, which can allow you to run highly personalized ads to attract online engagement. Instagram is also owned by Facebook, and you can easily create ads for both platforms in the same manner.
If you created display ads, you can look at repurposing your artwork for use on different social media channels. There are a variety of different media types, layouts, and interaction options available depending on what you are trying to communicate to your audience. It can be helpful to test different ads content and imagery to see what is most effective for your brand.
For a more in-depth look at social media marketing, check out our self-guided online courses.
One of the great (and somewhat overwhelming) parts about digital marketing is the sheer amount of user data that is available. Web analytics can be intimidating at first, but understanding how your customers are conducting themselves online can be a difference maker for your business. With online tools like Google Analytics, you can link your website to analyze where your web traffic is coming from, as well as how users are using your site. This can allow you to make informed decisions about how you might increase the rate of visitors to your site, or how to optimize your site to better serve your customers.
For example, if you see that you are getting a large percentage of visitors from direct Google searches, you might want to look into spending money with search engine ads. Or if you are getting a high number of visitors coming from Facebook, you can create a Facebook advertising campaign that “re-targets” those people who have previously visited your website.
You also want to stay up to date with how users are interacting with your website. With Google Analytics you can see exactly what pages people are clicking on, and how long they are staying on the page. Bounce rate refers to the number of visitors to your website who leave after viewing only one page, which is exactly what we don’t want our visitors to do. If you notice you have a high bounce rate on your homepage, you’ll want to take a look and see if there is a navigation or design change that can help you keep visitors on your website.
Don’t Set It and Forget It!
It can be challenging to maintain an online presence. For many business owners there are a thousand other things to worry about, and for smaller companies it might not be feasible to hire a dedicated person to handle your web and social media presence. Despite that, one of the most important parts of having an impactful digital presence is to have updated content and to be engaging to your potential customers.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours every day writing and planning social media posts, but you don’t want to go months without posting new content, updating your digital ads, or making sure you are keeping up with customer reviews. You may find some digital channels are more effective than others for your business, and can allow you to make decisions on what areas to prioritize.
Luckily, there are resources available to help you save time creating digital content. Hootsuite is one of the most popular social media management tools out on the market. After linking up your social media profiles, you can easily monitor and schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram from a centralized platform. You can schedule content to go out strategically, rather than taking time every day to develop posts. This can allow you to better plan out content in advance rather than scraping together an Instagram post whenever you have a free moment, leading to more engaging and thoughtful content for your digital audience.