Online marketing is a dense forest of choice. It’s also packed full of tempting but potentially injudicious ways to tear through your marketing budget, if you’re not sufficiently focused.
Prominent among the promise-versus-pitfall brigade is the black hole of ‘paid media’ (also known as PPC or pay-per-click).
What is it?
Paid media broadly covers digital marketing techniques that require some form of media ‘buying’. For example, boosting a post on Facebook, displaying an ad amongst Google search results, or showing (potentially) annoying-but-really-catchy banners around the web, enticing you back to buy those really nice shoes.
Setting Your Goals
The first step is arguably the most important one: setting clear goals and objectives for your paid campaign. Examples of potential goals or target outcomes include:
- A business is in its infancy and is looking to gain immediate brand awareness.
- A growing brand wants to expand its community of social followers.
- An established company wants to allocate marketing budget across an array of platforms to help drive new customer bookings/sales, in direct competition with other established brands.
There will always be an element of cross-over and a multitude of marketing aspirations, but clear outcomes are important. A top-level paid strategy can then be formed around these objectives.
KPIs differ from set goals and objectives by definition. A Key Performance Indicator is simply how activity will be measured against the set goals and objectives. Some examples of potential KPIs for a paid campaign are:
- Awareness reach of a social campaign.
- Clicks to the website.
- A purchase, a booking, or generation of a lead.
- Views of a promotional video on YouTube.
Platform choice is critical, and should reflect your objectives.
If you ask someone what paid marketing is or how to implement it, their first answer is likely to be either Google or AdWords. With Google cementing its place in everyday life, the explosion of its pay-per-click model in the form of paid search ads has touched almost everyone who uses the internet.
However, whilst it’s likely that advertising on Google will feature prominently in your strategy, there are a wealth of other options to target your likely customers.
In a similar vein, Microsoft’s Bing is a growing search engine offering eerily similar traits to those found within Google’s AdWords interface. It’s quick, easy to set up, and relatively cheap.
Social platforms offer huge potential to reach middle-funnel users through granular targeting. The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are all powerhouses with incredibly user-friendly advertising interfaces to help reach your audience.
And standing tall at the very top of the purchase funnel are approaches such as Display advertising and YouTube video advertising.
Once your tactical or channel plan has been drafted, the next phase is to consider how and who to target. For paid search via the likes of Google or Bing, this will be via keyphrases that are inherently linked to the services/products your business offers.
For social, video, or display advertising, the audience profile will need to align with the user persona(s) that are most likely to engage with your brand. An analysis of their primary traits such as age & gender will need to be blended with secondary and tertiary segmentation elements including interests, behaviour and affinity to objects/people/brands, etc.
This granular approach to user audience definition is critical to ensure your paid efforts (and budget) are reaching the right people.
Each paid strategy should have a pre-determined & agreed overall budget. Although media spend direct to the platform(s) is likely to be the greatest expense element, allocation must also be earmarked for the following:
- Creative. From basic text ads to imagery, motion GIFs, to full-blown professional video compilations.
- Configuration. Someone will need to spend time pulling together ideas from the strategy into distinct campaign plans across the platform(s) being used.
- Management & optimisation. Critical to campaign success is the evolvement of each campaign, tailored and constantly optimised to provide optimum performance.
- Measurement. Paid marketing delivers significant data covering everything from clicks to CTR, CPCs, and conversion rates. This data needs to be crunched and translated into useable information.
A central cog in the strategy machine is what these potential future customers or clients will engage with. This is you selling your brand (and paying good money for the privilege), so it needs to be right.
The creative should be developed with the following elements front of mind:
- Messaging: is it relatable to the audience it’s talking to?
- Imagery/video: does it suit the text. Does it clearly promote the brand, a product, or particular service?
- Brand: is everything on-brand and aligned across other platforms and approaches, but also tailored for the idiosyncrasies of each channel.
No paid campaign can be considered a success without the metrics in place to measure it. These must link to the campaign KPIs, and be set from inception.
Tracking performance and analytical data is crucial, especially for number- and data-heavy paid campaigns. Reporting on such intricacies will help to highlight top level results, performance trends, audience segmentation performance, and actions for improvement amongst others.
Strategy: next steps
Now you have an idea of who, how, when, and where you are going to utilise your paid advertising efforts, you can plan out your campaign from inception to launch.
A well-planned and executed strategy plan will provide engaging, rich campaigns that deliver outstanding traffic and results for your brand. So, what are you waiting for?
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