Unless you’re in the espionage business, the last thing you want is for your company to be invisible. Who will know you’re there to help if you haven’t told them?
The inverse of invisibility is advertising.
And advertising is simply the art of being visible to as many prospects as you can afford.
Today, it’s truly a different kind of effort—where digital advertising is the rule, not the exception. And there is plenty of data to show how important it is to digitally advertise.
Let’s be clear: your website is an online ad. Your company’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Linkedin channels are all ads. And every post you create within those accounts is an ad. In fact, social media that leads to a landing page plays a larger role in advertising than you might have expected. Below we take a look at several different aspects of digital advertising, and how they’re key to the success of your business.
Get the Most Out of Advertising
It’s important to understand how to make advertising work for you, and it’s fairly simple:
1. You need to know who you want to reach and focus your efforts on reaching them.
2. Today, you don’t “sell”. You provide information that’s helpful, then provide links back to your selling pages/contact pages on your web site.
3. Study the results of your campaigns. Use digital analytics to see how many visitors you got, what they did, and whether they converted. Then refine your advertising according to what you learned. Your goal is to continually improve your ads based on data.
Let’s have a look at why it makes sense to advertise.
3 Key Reasons to Advertise
1. You’re in Control
You create the messaging, you select your audience and target them, you decide how much and how often you want to send out the message, and you decide what content you want to link. You can decide how much to spend and when. Many things about your business may be difficult to control, but advertising won’t be one of them.
2. You’re Visible
Creating great content is key to gaining credibility. But without advertising, it’s like creating a beautiful commercial but never actually spending on air time. It’s important to note that in this context, “visibility” refers to all of your efforts to reach people: via Instagram, Facebook, SEO, Twitter and any other medium that broadens your audience. These efforts make your content “visible”.
3. You Learn
It used to be that advertising was posted in print or on television and radio, and there wasn’t any way to directly measure the success of the ad; nor to micro-target based on campaign results. That problem is now in the distant past. With digital analytics, you can easily understand the reach, clickthroughs, and conversions of all of your campaigns. You can know where you had success and where you did not. You can spot trends and exploit them. You will know exactly how your customers found you—and you can plow more effort into the media that gave you the greatest success.
How Advertising Pays Off
Visibility is its own reward—the more people see you, the more they are likely to interact. But sometimes there are added, non-obvious benefits to advertising.
For instance, robust advertising creates an impression of your success, regardless of the messaging. The fact you are advertising at all, signals to prospects that you are serious and that you have resources. Even existing customers are likely to respond favorably when they see you’ve got a robust advertising presence. It breeds an air of success and dynamism, and customers certainly want to be associated with success!
Visibility can lead to more visibility—it can jump the divide between paid media to earned media. By this, we mean that when journalists are looking for companies to write about or people to interview, they are just as likely as anyone to find you more suitable because they saw your ad. An interview or an article about you add a great deal of credibility and spreads your message well beyond your targeted audience.
The Shape of Advertising Today
According to a survey by The Manifest, the most important advertising channel today is social media. The survey states that 86% of respondents used a social media channel to advertise. This was followed by display ads and SEO.
Display ads are cheaper, but customers don’t “believe” them as much, and the clickthrough rates tend to be low. Our recommended channels include social media and SEO.
Social channels are generally perceived as helpful and trustworthy because often the link to specific advertising is not quite as obvious, and often the social media content itself is already interesting in its own right. So when a prospect clicks through to your robust content via a social channel, they have already expressed a measure of trust and appreciation. And if they click through to content that is even more helpful to them, then your “ad” stands a good chance of getting them to convert into a customer.
In the above context, it is important to note that your advertising environment is comprised of both the social media element and the linked content element. Make sure both are helpful to your prospect, and you have a better chance of turning them into a client!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO or “natural search” is considered trustworthy because it’s seen as not advertising! Even though you may have put considerable effort into a good search ranking, users typically find the top links to be more believable than the ads that companies have paid for. These days SEO is probably more meaningful than ever—because search engines no longer reward SEO “tricks” and instead reward actual helpful, authoritative content. This is good news for both the advertiser and the consumer.
Advertising ROI: 300% Dollar for Dollar Gain
A recent Nielsen study that found an ROI of three dollars in revenue for every dollar spent on advertising. “. . .We [can] prove that online advertising drives sales; [and that] the returns on ad spends are significant when purchaser-based data is used to optimize the media buy,” said Mike Nazzaro, CEO of Nielsen Catalina Solutions, a digital measurement division of the company.
Put another way, digital advertising can be targeted with much greater precision than any prior medium; and precise targeting (audience identification coupled with repeat messaging) makes for a much more successful campaign. As noted above, the manner in which you target is key to your success in advertising.
Invest in Your Business
Make no mistake: word of mouth is probably still the best form of advertising, but you certainly cannot count on it. And you may need to jump-start that by advertising. These days there are advertising options for every budget and for every type of business.
Companies that have grown, have done so at least partly by advertising. Companies that are small, too often stay small because no one knows they exist. If you think you have no budget for advertising, take the time to go over your budget again and find the money. Even a small campaign will begin to yield results. According to the Small Business Administration, you should allocate up to 8% of your budget to advertising—in startup mode, some say even much more.
Having a great product or service is only a starting point. Letting the world know you can do the job, or deliver the product, is almost as important as developing the product itself.
Avoid invisibility. Spend as much time and money on advertising as you can afford—the results will speak for themselves. Want to learn more?