Paid media is a critical component of any digital marketing strategy. It is a cost-effective way to get your brand in front of a global audience, while gaining valuable insights about your target customers.
When it comes to paid media mastery, there are many skills and metrics to be aware of, but even seasoned professionals like us know one thing always holds true: there’s always room for improvement. The consumer landscape is constantly shifting, so ads do too. This makes an exact formula for paid advertising impossible to pin down, but there are some basic principles to follow to strike the right balance.
- Be Willing to Test
One thing digital advertising can provide that many traditional ad mediums lack: rich data. Every click, impression and conversion can be tracked and measured, providing you with a wealth of data that you can use to further refine your strategy. It also makes testing much easier, too.
Testing in advertising brings a lot of advantages and uses. You can use it to sample new markets and messages; you can even get granular and see if audiences resonate with a specific CTA or image better than another. However, it’s crucial that you clearly define what is being tested. Trying too many variables at once will yield muddy results. For example, if you change the image and copy of an ad, you won’t know if the results are due to the change in image, copy or both.
Testing helps you answer specific questions about your audience and what resonates with them, then provides the data to back it up. Tweaking the targeting lets you see which customer groups like what messaging. Depending on your platform, you can adjust for region, age, gender, interest, whether they have purchased from you before and so on. With the right tests, you can chisel down to the best message for each customer set on each platform.
- Spend Money to Make Money
One of the most cited benefits of digital advertising is that it’s cheaper than traditional advertising. And while that’s true, there is still a cost. Clients, especially those new to paid media, often balk when they hear recommendations for a budget. There are a couple of factors behind spend: where you’re advertising, what your goals are, what you’re promoting, and how long you want to advertise.
Different platforms have different rates, and you factor in competition and audience size within those rates. For example, the cost of Google PPC ads can vary wildly depending on your keywords. Some can cost less than a dollar, whereas others can cost hundreds. Similarly, your objective can also change costs. Awareness campaigns are very inexpensive compared to conversion campaigns.
Remember that campaigns also take time, and your budget has to cover that time effectively. $500 spread out over a week is much different than $500 spread out over two months. We typically recommend clients give campaigns two weeks before making changes; this gives the algorithms time to learn targeting and settle.
- Lean into Failure
Data and analytics have lifted the curtain in advertising, but there is still an element of trial and error. You have to be willing to take some risk, but with the right practices, you can minimize that risk, and with smart insights, you can even turn it into an opportunity. The great thing about paid media is that even if your campaign wasn’t a rousing success, you still walk away with the data, so you can help figure out why. Was it the messaging? Was it the targeting or the platform? With that data, you can come up with theories about what didn’t work and apply them to your next test.
All this to say, you shouldn’t start throwing ads at the audience to see what sticks. You can still take practical precautions to ensure you don’t lose money unnecessarily. Always start with a small test, especially if this is your first step into digital marketing. Don’t walk forward with a large budget thinking you are guaranteed to make it in returns. Your budget is used to run tests and try new things. There is no guarantee you will get it back immediately. Always keep an eye on your campaigns. Failure to resonate with your audience is not the same as failing to check how many zeros went into your ad spend amount.
Paid media is a valuable investment in your business, but there is no set formula for success. Experience and guiding principles are what get us there.