Advertising falls under the broader umbrella of marketing. If marketing is getting people to buy your products, advertising is what you do to inform a targeted audience that your products exist, and that they provide the perfect answer to your audience’s specific needs.
When you’re drawing up the strategies you will use to advertise, you have to have specific goals in mind to help you focus your efforts, time and energy through out the advertising cycle. The most basic goals for on-line advertising campaigns are:
- To build and grow brand awareness.
- To get more visitors to your website.
- To generate more sales of your products and get more leads.
With these goals in mind, the next logical step would be to pick what type of advertising to use, and where you will apply them. The Internet has dozens and dozens of styles of advertising, with some suited to particular styles or products, and others tailored to specific content types.
- For example, visual content is the mainstay of websites that sell clothes, shoes and accessories. Nobody wants to buy clothes based solely on a description. Customers would want to see for themselves how exactly the items look like, and pictures help set expectations as well as sell the product. On websites like these, picture ads and banners predominate over links and text ads.
- In other situations, like promoting though content articles, or advertising in an internet forum, for example, picture ads would be thought of as spam and can result in banning. Text ads and links can be more discreet.
Whatever advertising method you choose should align with your goals .If you want to push for more market penetration, a well-designed banner ad placed in the top two or three search engines would be effective.
If you want to grow more leads and get new clients, you can narrow down your efforts and use banner ads on high-traffic websites that are specific to your target audience. Think of the following website specialties: mother and childcare, Southern cooking, green house gardening. Just by using experience and common sense you already have a very good idea of who is advertising on those websites, and what kind of ads they will use.
When you’re debating on how to proceed with your ad campaign, think of how many people you want to reach. Do you want to net a large mass of subscribers and followers, or do you want a smaller pool of devoted followers , not unlike aiming for the cream of the crop? Your choice here will affect the delivery method and the channel you’ll use to get your audience’s attention. Think of the difference in reach and speed when you’re using social media platforms versus a mailing list, for example.
Think about the people who are the intended market for your products. If you want to sell miracle plant food to serious green-house gardeners, you aim for greenhouse-related websites, newsgroups, forums etc., so you can get the attentions of serious gardening hobbyists — or, as they’re sometimes called, the semi-pros and skilled amateurs. You wouldn’t waste money and time advertising on deer-hunting forums.
Don’t lose sight of your budget when you’re designing and testing your advertising. It’s basic business sense to get the most bang for your buck while helping your customers get their money’s worth out of your products. You can find many ways to make your money stretch.
You can take part in banner-exchanges set up by third-party websites, where you can join a particular niche group and your banner is used on the other group-member’s pages, as theirs are on yours.
If you’re just starting out and really have to watch your budget, it’s okay to learn by copying the simplest styles of successful websites in your niche. Everyone starts out as a beginner, and mistakes are just part of the learning process — if it helps, think of them as part of the tuition for gaining experience.
Knowledge is key to successful application, and you have to study how they are doing to understand and apply the principles behind it. Look at the style of ads they use and research the web services that provide those sorts of ads. You can then check out the advertising packages they offer and see which ones fit your goals and your budget.
At this point it is important to note that using paid services is part and parcel of doing business online. The internet is too big, and developments happen too often and too fast for any one person to have an in-depth handle on all the things that pertains to running and growing a business successfully.
Using a professional service is a good choice in that (a) they should know what they’re doing and strive to provide the best service they know — which is why testimonials and reviews are important, (b) you are freed up to pay more time and attention to the parts of the business which need your particular skills and attention, and (c) you would get a good grasp of how advertising should work when you look over the results that the professionals have attained.
Check your needs against your wants.
In the race to gain more visitors, or sales, or leads, you might feel the pressure to stuff as much information you can into every possible point of contact with your market. This can results in things like irritatingly persistent pop-ups and ill-designed and busy banners, which are definite turn-offs and not turn ons for the audience you want.
Think of your own experience in bad banner design on the internet. Slow-loading, massive animated GIF files, fluttery ‘blinkies” that irritate the eyes, unintelligible small or busy print…if you don’t like it when it’s done to you, don’t inflict it on anyone else.
- Aim for small file sizes that make the banner load faster. If the page loads first before the banner finishes, the visitor might click away to another page before even seeing it.
- Keep banners clear and simple. Too much text makes for a busy, cluttered visual field — and harder reading for some. Crazy fonts, too many colors, and flashing animation can overload the viewer’s eyes and they’ll just look away from the source of the discomfort.
- Make sure your banner is legible and easily viewed. Consider the harmonious use of color, contrast and and size. When you want to deliver a message, you want to make sure the message is easy to read.
- In connection with sending the message, you must also ask the viewer to act. “Click here” is a very simple sentence, nut generally it’s all you need to get them to act and click on your ad.
- Make sure your banner links are solid — the disappointment of clicking on a banner and being directed to a “Page not found” message may be enough to lose a prospective sale or lead.
- Test your ads on different browsers and screen resolutions so you can ensure they translate the same message the way you intended them to across many environments.
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