How to Pick the Best Online Advertising Channel for Your Business
Numerous startups and companies that have never advertised online are looking to find the one online advertising channel that will maximize their return on investment. When choosing a platform, one should consider the respective customer profile, advertising budget and market conditions.
Here are five scenarios combined with five online advertising channels that typically show the highest ROI.
1. Service providers do well with Google or Bing
Traditional service providers, such as lawyers, doctors or accountants, are advertising to an audience that is already searching for specific services and will convert relatively quickly.
For service providers, a pull marketing strategy typically works best. The potential clients know what they are looking for and the service provider displays ads to them, while they are actively searching for it. A business that matches the characteristics of a pull system, is most likely best served with search network campaigns on Google or Bing. Both search engines allow for highly targeted keywords and micro-managing of the budget, which is particularly valuable for industries with a relatively high cost per click, such as law.
2. When customers don't know you exist, go with Google Display
Not all businesses have customers who search for a given product or service. If that is the case, Google display network campaigns are an effective way to target potential customers, while they are browsing other websites. The display network distributes your online ads across websites that your customers might be interested in or that are related to what you are offering.
In contrast to the pull strategy, the display network is a push strategy. Potential customers are exposed to your ads, which raises brand awareness and eventually generates conversions when done well. Ad formats include banners as well as text ads.
The ideal platform is Google AdWords. Other platforms offering display network advertising, known as media buying companies, usually cannot compare with Google's detailed tracking, targeting options and statistics. However, depending on the niche you are targeting, they might be a great addition to Google or, in rare cases, even replace Google.
3. Facebook for finding customers by lifestyle or behavioral patterns
Advertising on Facebook is ideal for companies selling lifestyle products, such as designer bathtubs, or service businesses that target potential customers with clear behavioral patterns, like being a Justin Bieber fan or showing an interest in haute couture.
This type of customer is, first and foremost, passive. They are not actively looking for the product or service in question, so a push system is the best way because it allows you to gain maximum exposure to relevant users. With Facebook advertising, you can target customer profiles by interests, gender, age, education and other potentially relevant criteria.
Alternatively or additionally, Twitter advertising (e.g. TweetCards) and the Google Display Network are good choices also.
Related: Which Ad Strategy Works for You?
4. Sell services or products to businesses on LinkedIn
Any business that is offering business-to-business (B2B) services or products is most likely best served with advertising on LinkedIn, which can target specific professions, hierarchy levels, employees of a specific company or industries, just to name a few.
Even though Google and Bing search network campaigns could be a good choice also, it only reaches out to potential customers who are actively searching for the product or service. There is nearly no way to reach out to the passive customer base that is present on LinkedIn.
Targeting niche blogs and online newspapers with a banner ad via the Google Display Network is another viable approach to cover some of that passive user base.
5. In competitive markets, you need cross-channel remarketing
Remarketing campaigns target potential customers who visited your website but did not convert. Cross-channel remarketing does just that, across several platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. It is typically very cost effective and converts profitably within a 30 day period, on average.
To get started with remarketing or cross-channel remarketing, the website traffic of non-converted visitors must come from somewhere. As long as the website traffic is tracked well with Google Analytics, remarketing can be built upon so-called remarketing lists that sort non-converted visitors into self- created categories, such as "from Facebook page" or "from Google AdWords search network campaign." You create your own names and categories.
The rule of thumb is, identify the potential customers who spent a good amount of time on your website. They are the base for your remarketing campaign. Most businesses prefer to drive traffic with Google AdWords, because the data integrates well with remarketing campaigns and can be tracked easily. Twitter and Facebook remarketing can be added to the advertising strategy, if the budget allows it.
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