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What You Need to Know About Paid Media

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There are an overwhelming number of digital marketing channels available to the modern business. Currently, there is an emphasis on multi-channel and omni-channel marketing, but managing every available channel is more trendy than realistic. For that reason, it’s important to prioritize according to which channels give you the best returns.

Paid vs. Owned Media

Your marketing strategy may include some combination of owned and paid media. With owned channels, you create and control the content. These are relatively “free.” Aside from initial investments, little to no expenses are required to create and maintain your website, blog, and social media accounts. 


Owned content should be looked at as a long-term investment because it takes time for these channels to gain traction in the marketplace.

 

On the other hand, paid promotions are more immediate but require companies to invest capital. Unlike owned channels, the success of paid channels directly correlates with investment. 


If you run out of funds for your Google Ads, influencer marketing, or promoted posts on social media, they can no longer bring you impressions or leads. So, while paid channels are a reliable and scalable way of placing your advertisements in front of an audience, this approach can become expensive.  

 

Each of these kinds of media has its strengths and weaknesses. Most businesses will use some combination of these channels, especially since cross-channel marketing blurs the lines between them. 


In this blog, we’re going to take a look at different kinds of paid media, and how you can use them to your advantage. 

Search Engine Marketing

For B2B companies, pay-per-click (PPC) is perhaps the most effective and necessary paid channel. PPC advertising comes in many flavors, but the single most popular is Google Ads.


Used in combination with search engine optimization (discussed in more detail below), it’s part of the complete search marketing breakfast. Whereas SEO is free and used to increase organic traffic, PPC is paid traffic. 


While businesses with a lot of fresh content and a decent following might be able to get away with just using SEO, most people have to pay to play. It’s part of our modern, digital landscape.


What exactly is PPC? 


Simply put, it’s an internet marketing model that requires businesses to pay a sliding scale fee every time a user clicks on their ad. When you search something on the internet, you’ve probably noticed the advertisements that precede the search results. 


Businesses bid for these slots—or, more accurately, they bid for the keywords behind these slots. For example, say Orogamis bid on the keyword “digital strategists for B2B companies.” The highest bidder receives the highest ad position on the page. If we won the bid, we’d pay a specified amount whenever a user clicked on our advertisement. We would also set a budget, limiting how much we could be charged per day.


When done correctly, PPC fees should be small and get smaller as your exposure increases. What you pay for the ad should be dwarfed by the profit made from visitors. For instance, you might pay a couple of dollars per click, but if those clicks result in hundreds of dollars of sales, the ROI is significant.

 

Strategies for PPC

PPC can seem intimidating at first. 

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Internet users are more trusting of organic search results and so these tend to have a higher CTR, but PPC has some surprising benefits. First, Google Ads’ capacity for granular targeting helps you get your product in front of the right audience. 


For example, if you can only service a certain state or section of the country, geo-targeting features allow you to limit search results accordingly. You can even target ads according to time, day of the week and devices.


PPC can be especially helpful for new businesses that need more time to build up their SEO. Whereas organic traffic takes months to build up, a good PPC campaign can be created in a matter of days and grown significantly over a matter of weeks, allowing newer companies to fast track traffic to their website. 


There’s also a level of marketing intelligence that sets PPC apart from organic search. SEO hides keyword data, but programs such as Google Analytics allows us to easily determine what PPC keywords have a higher CVR. What we learn can easily be incorporated across the rest of our marketing strategy, from SEO to everything beyond.


There are a few strategies you can employ to make your Google Ad campaigns as effective as possible. 


First, go for the low-hanging fruit. 


That means creating ads for users who are clearly searching for your brand; it’s as simple as capturing the leads you already own. After that, what kind of keywords should you focus on? Short-tail keywords generally have a higher search volume, but you’ll be jostling with your competition for rankings. Long-tail keywords are highly targeted and have a lower search volume, but they’re less expensive and less competitive—and they have higher conversion rates.


It’s the difference between searching for “puppies” and “Pomeranian puppies in the Bay area.” The short-tail example is more top-of-funnel. Those people may not even be looking to buy a puppy. They just want to look at cute dogs. 


Sure, short-tail keywords may sometimes lead to a higher CTR, but they’re highly competitive and users who search short-tail keywords generally lack intent to buy. Contrastingly, long-tail keywords indicate that a user is further down the funnel and markedly closer to making a purchase.


Most businesses will likely incorporate a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords. It’s all about getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Identify which keywords your competitors are likely targeting and create ads that outperform theirs. The key to doing this successfully is, as usual, testing. Trying out different ad types and different messages can help you determine what approach has the best CVR.  


If you’re a smaller company competing with larger companies, ranking for short-tail words in the market will be really hard. Even if your ads are great, you probably won’t have the budget to compete. In this case, your strength lies in defining your niche. Whatever it is that makes your company unique in the industry can be utilized to help you rank.


What’s your mission? Working around that may not lead to as many visitors, but those who do visit are searching in terms specific to your business—meaning they’re most likely to purchase your product or service.


Google Ads is a bit like picking a lock in that you need to finesse each component like a tumbler. Achieve the right balance (of audience, keywords, and messaging) and you unlock niche markets that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.


Social Media

In an age where some of us spend more time looking at screens than we do human faces, a firm grasp on social media is a key component of digital growth. For one thing, the number of social media users grows every day, as does the amount of time we’re spending on social media. 


For another, social media has been one of the most empowering developments for marketers because of how it’s enabled us to more effectively target potential buyers.

 

When it comes to building brand awareness on social media, the best strategy isn’t to master every single social network. Rather, strategically choose the one or two platforms based on what your target consumer spends the most time on. 


Getting your content seen on any of these platforms typically requires that you go beyond just relying on search and your existing network; running ads and promoting posts are a critical part of getting eyeballs on your content. 


LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a bit like old-fashioned networking transplanted into the digital world. Here, connections are still paramount. While having a solid, SEO-savvy description and profile page is helpful, the most critical part of the platform are the people you’re connected to. Your network, employees, and contacts are all a reflection of your business.

 

Growing your LinkedIn network can create excellent business opportunities. In addition to adding all your real-life contacts, you can also ask for personal introductions to second and third-degree connections (when appropriate). 


For most B2Bs, LinkedIn is the important platform to be active on. It’s more than just a social networking site—it’s a professional networking site. People who log on to the platform are there for work-related reasons, whether that’s connecting, searching for a job, recruiting new employees, or conducting research on competitors.

 

Most businesses run their ads on other sites, despite the fact that Hubspot came out with a study revealing that LinkedIn Ads have a 6.1% conversion rate. To put that in perspective, B2B ads on Google search have an average CVR of 2.58%. Sure, the cost per click is higher, but divide the number of clicks by the number of conversions, and LinkedIn’s cost per lead is significantly lower. Who says LinkedIn ads can’t be a great asset to your digital marketing game?  

 

That being said, these ads need to be purposeful. The platform will penalize ads that don’t get enough clicks, and that will negatively impact your CTR and CPL. Remember, users are on LinkedIn looking to learn something new, check industry news, or somehow bolster their professional life. Captivate your audience with large images (never thumbnails) and newsworthy topics that blend seamlessly with the platform.


To get the best possible CVR, testing is critical. Having a variety of ads within a single campaign allows you to determine which are most effective. This is where having that large, healthy network can come in handy. 


One strategy is this: if your page gets a decent amount of engagement, you can share content on your page to see how it performs. Content that does well can be turned into ads.

 

Facebook

Facebook’s power lies in its versatility; everyone and their grandmother’s dog is on it. That means you can reach nearly anyone, as long as you know what circles your target audience runs in.

 

Know your audience, and it’s easy to pinpoint them through targeted digital ads. Facebook enables you to land your ads directly in front of the right users through granular targeting. It offers a plethora of tools to hyper-target your audience.

 

It might seem like Facebook is best suited to B2Cs, especially given the ecommerce abilities that allow customers to make purchases directly through the site. However, as the digital marketing landscape continues to shift, more and more B2Bs have expanded their social media marketing efforts beyond LinkedIn.

 

This has come as a result of the realization that social media is often about branding and building brand awareness—not necessarily about creating leads. Most social media users are seeking some form of entertainment. They’re not looking to buy. That’s not to say that Facebook can’t nudge prospects down the funnel (as we’ll discuss), but it is part of the reason why ads on Facebook have comparatively lower conversion rates. 

 

Another reason is that a lot of the content out there isn’t interesting. Creating content that people actually want to engage with is no easy task. By carving out a niche within the billions of Facebook users, and creating content that is entertaining and targeted, you’ll create excellent opportunities. 


Additionally, videos perform extremely well on Facebook. Video may well be the future of social media, and Facebook’s algorithm currently favors it. Like most of social media content, these videos shouldn’t be sales-y. They should be TOFU-focused—lighter, entertaining and no longer than 120 seconds.

 

Whatever content or ads you decide to put up on Facebook, remember that the “soft conversion” approach is the key to successful social media marketing. And what’s wonderful about Facebook’s targeting options is that they allow you to move prospects down the funnel. 


If a user expresses interest in your product or service by taking a particular action, you can tell the platform to automatically move them into another audience list and target them with a different ad. This ability to nudge prospects down the funnel in this way—by snagging their attention at the top of the funnel and sequentially moving them along with targeted ads—is unique to Facebook and could prove to be an important tool in your box.   

Instagram

As of 2018, more than half of Instagrammers follow brands. Users love to connect with brands, and the platform boasts 4% engagement (as compared to Facebook’s 1%). It’s the ideal platform for visual storytelling and showcasing your product, which makes it well-suited for all things lifestyle, food, and fashion.

 

To be successful on Instagram, you’ll need a strong brand. Beautiful imagery is important, but just as important is the consistency of that imagery. You want to have a cohesive visual style that’s distinctly yours. 


And as with all social media platforms, you’ll need to post regularly. There is no magic number for how many posts you should make on Instagram. The key, again, lies in consistency; it’s better to post consistently than frequently. Whether you post twice a day or every couple of days, just be sure you can commit to it.

 

Familiarity with your followers is also important. That means not just knowing what kind of content they enjoy, but also when they are using Instagram. There are some major trends, but utilizing one of the many analytics tools available may help you discover any nuances within your particular audience.

 

Twitter

If Instagram is a beauty contest and LinkedIn is a conference room, Twitter is snippets of conversation heard in passing. 


Brevity is key. 


And, because pretty much every bit of the persona spectrum is covered, there are all kinds of conversations. The platform supports 35+ languages, so if you serve the global market, Twitter is a must. Even if you’re small and local, people in your industry—and your target audience—are bound to be chatting it up on Twitter.

 

In fact, the number of active users will only increase as the trend from desktop to mobile continues (Twitter being an overwhelmingly mobile outlet). Increasingly more people are searching for product information on their mobile devices. If you have an active account, you make it easier for potential buyers to discover you. For that reason, Twitter can be an especially powerful tool for businesses in search of early adopters or generating fast, initial brand awareness.  

 

 

Pros and Cons

Display Advertisements

Display advertisements are those ads that appear on third-party websites. They have (fortunately) changed a lot since their inception in the nineties. These days, we rarely see a banner inviting us to knock out a politician with our mouse in order to win a free Xbox.


The display media of today is far more targeted and credible. Essentially, display media consists of all the advertisements on a site. It can either be device- or mobile-based, and while device-based ads still rake in the most revenue, mobile-based ads have a significantly higher CTR—hence the fact that they’re more expensive. 


You’ll see display ads along the borders of an article you’re reading, or at times, they may even take up the whole screen (e.g., when you’re playing with an app on your phone). On YouTube, they come in the form of the inescapable pre-roll video, the commercial that precedes the video you actually want to watch.

 

When Content Needs Context

So, how do you get you create effective banner ads, rich media, and pre-roll videos, all while trying to get them in front of the right people? It’s no secret: know how to reach your audience where they are.


If you have a deep understanding of your target and what sites they’re likely to browse, reach out to relevant media outlets and purchase directly from them. Alternatively, you can opt into an advertising network—huge companies that own ad space all over the web. Work with the publisher to ensure ads are well-placed. 


You don’t want your visual appetizer jammed at the bottom of a page where no one will see it. Additionally, display ads need to appeal to an audience that’s potentially hungry for the product; ads are only going to be effective when placed in relevant ad space. The ad might have all the right colors and copy, but it will fall flat when put in front of the wrong audience. Users browsing Seventeen just don’t want to see your ads for data-centric IT solutions.   


But regardless of whether you’re browsing Seventeen or The Economist, most people don’t want to see ads. Period. As of 2017, 615 million devices used ad block, and the numbers continue to grow as audiences become more ad-lergic. This has led to the growing popularity of native advertisements.


Native ads are somewhere between content marketing and display ads in the sense that they often appear as an article or video (something with relevancy and value) that seamlessly blends with the platform on which it appears. You can even go so far as to allow the publisher to create ads for you in their voice. 


This is an excellent way of reaching new potential buyers that share similar interests with your target audience.

 

Lions & Tigers & Remarketing, Oh My!

Display media doesn’t get as much love from marketers as SEO and PPC, but that’s unfortunate, especially for those companies that are underutilizing remarketing strategies. Remarketing involves tracking the online whereabouts of your site visitors via cookies, so you can continue to show them your ads. 


It sounds stalker-ish, but it’s highly effective because you’re targeting individuals who have already expressed an interest in your product or service by visiting the website. That being said, you don’t want to overdo it and get spammy; people don’t like to know they’re being chased after with advertisements.


As with all marketing channels, testing and evaluation is an integral part of the process. Run as many different ads as possible and see what performs well. What images draw users in? Is there an ad that brings in traffic but not conversions (i.e., is it misleading)? Test different targeting methods and features as well. If you have leftover budget, experimenting with different ad groups based on different niches will help you identify opportunities for optimization.

Summary 

We live in a pay-to-play world -- but it’s easy to waste budget on paid media if a business doesn’t have a proper strategy in place. Not sure how productive you’re being with your paid media? Feel free to reach out to our growth experts at Orogamis: We use market insights rooted in data to craft optimal strategies (paid media and otherwise) for your brand.


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