The online landscape is flooded with content. And within this content, users are being shown ads from all over. Advertisers struggle with making their ads stand out amongst the crowd enough to really see the success that they want.
We asked top minds in the industry to give us their thoughts on this question:
What are the key principles for creating a successful online advertising campaign?
The MarTechExec Takeaway
For the most part, it looks like our experts are in agreement. Three main points stand out from their advice. You need to focus on that audience. You need to always be analyzing that data. And always, always make sure you have a clear goal in mind.
The Expert Takeaways
- You need mobile-friendly, consumer-friendly content to win
- You need to understand the user
- Don’t be so obvious about your advertising
- Get down to the basics
- Speak your audience’s language
- Get the right message to right person at the right time
- Combine market, message, media, matrix, and maximize for an unstoppable force
- It’s a 7 step process
- Mention the problem first, then introduce your solution
- Know your audience’s hot buttons and where they live online
- Know your customer and give them credible content
- Make emotional bonds with your audience
- Be the best medicine to your audience’s problem
- Build out audience profiles and then work through trial and errors
- Make your content count - it’s what matters
- Your ad strategy is predicated on ROI
- Find what is most relevant and important to your audience
- Constant measuring will help you find the right path
- Make your ad copy match your data
- Use the power of data and industry knowledge
- Know what you want from your ad
- Don’t make assumptions - know your audience, what they like, and test everything
- Make sure your ad goals and brand objectives complement each other
- It’s all about the right message
- Ask “what do I want to achieve?”
- Test variations of your ad
- Colin Bovet
- Robert Brill
- Nathan Chan
- Kris Degioia
- Darren Eggenschwiler
- Adam Erhart
- Matt Gentile
- Michelle Guglielmo Gilliam
- Germany Kent
- Colin Klinkert
- Lori A. Manns
- John McDougall
- Marcus Miller
- Bharathidasan Moorthi
- Tim Moran
- Alan Morte
- Borja Obeso
- Adam Parikh
- Chamara Peiris
- Navdeep Reddy
- Brian Regienczuk
- David Reimherr
- Michael Ross
- Nathan Schook
- Mike Smith
- Nate Smoyer
- Seth Waite
You need mobile-friendly, consumer-friendly content to win.
“A winning display advertising strategy is harder than ever. In 2017, 74% of web use in America will be mobile, jumping to 83% in 2018. Consumers are far less tolerant of intrusive display advertising on their mobile devices because it slows them down and takes up precious screen space. That's one of the reasons that ad-blocking software is growing so rapidly.
So, the first step any marketer should take is to think creatively about ways other than display advertising to reach their target audience. There are any number of other ways and the creative marketer is only limited by their imagination.
But if you really want to do display advertising, a winning strategy has to be mobile-friendly and consumer-friendly. Mobile-friendly is more than designing for mobile devices (although it is that). It also taking into consideration the overall context of the mobile user.
A winning strategy is also consumer-friendly. If you want people's attention, reward them for it: be relevant and provide value. Instead of thinking solely about what you want them to do for you, think about what you can do for them.”
You need to understand the user.
"The key to successful display advertising is in understanding the mindset of prospects that may see (and hopefully click on) your advert. Unlike search, where intent is implied by the search term, these users are simply browsing the web and you have to grab their attention.
Your adverts as such will be more successful if they promote some interesting content or offer that exists higher up your marketing funnel. By combining smart targeting with enticing adverts you can start to qualify potential customers.
The specifics will vary depending upon the product and marketplace but consider users looking for information on website hosting. A company could target ads for a whitepaper on the best web hosting. To access the paper users would have to sign up with their email address.
The company can now continue to target this company with remarketing display adverts and with email nurturing campaigns. Where the advertiser is smart as users click on links in those emails this can be used to indicate the user's progress through the marketing funnel and to change the messaging of the display campaign.
The key with all digital advertising is to understand the user and understand the options afforded by these modern, digital marketing platforms.”
Don’t be so obvious about your advertising.
"It's all about following people through sales funnels and using display ads to keep reminding and pushing people through to the next step in your funnel. When it comes to the best kind of ads, they are the ones that don't feel like an ad.”
Get down to the basics.
“Distill the campaign down to the basics of Audience and Offer. Produce creative that communicates the offer that resonates with the Audience. Leverage first and third party data to get in front of the audience in contextually relevant ways.”
Speak your audience’s language.
“Know your audience and speak to them. Online advertising content must be tailored to your prospects', leads' and customers' needs. Don't know your audience's' pain points? Interview some of your customers (and maybe some leads who didn't elect to do business with you) to learn what they want to see from your online ads. Then, test, test, test to make sure your content is what drives people from your ads to your website. Use gated content (free e-books or guides) in exchange for email addresses and keep updating ads as customers' needs change. Remember to start with a small budget and raise it only when you know an ad is driving customers to your website or encouraging them to call you.”
Get the right message to right person at the right time
“Before beginning to craft any online advertising campaign it is important to get an understanding of who you are looking to engage. At the core of any successful marketing strategy, on-or-offline the goal should be to offer the right message to the right person at the right time.
Without knowing who your target audience is; it’s next-to-impossible to define what the right message should be, let alone who they are or when to target them.
This is true regardless of whether a brand is looking to drive engagement through content marketing, potential sales via paid search activity or post-purchase CRM through search engine optimisation. An understanding of your target audience should underpin these strategies. This will enable your marketing to resonate increasingly with a more relevant audience – leading to higher level of engagement and whatever other KPIs you have defined to measure success.
Furthermore, once this has been established this insight can enable you to define what success looks like. Helping marketers set achievable campaign objectives and communicate to wider teams on how to measure success.
There are a couple of places to start when trying to define who your target audience are. Facebook Audience Insights, for Facebook is a great tool. Additionally, if your website is using Google Analytics then the demographic report is a great, free tool to help get an understanding of who is interacting with your domain or business.”
Combine market, message, media, matrix, and maximize for an unstoppable force.
There are 5 key principles that contribute to a successful (ie results producing, income generating, high ROI’ing) online ad campaign. Each one on it’s own is powerful, but when you combine all 5 together you get what I’ve dubbed The Authority Marketing Process (aka The AMP Method); an unstoppable force of persuasion, authority, trust, and action.
MARKET: Identify your ideal target market
The better you know your customers, the better you’ll be able to create laser focused and targeted ads which will cut your costs and boost your results.
MESSAGE: Uncover their biggest problems and questions
Use what you learned in the MARKET research step to uncover their biggest problems and questions and ensure your ad covers some aspect of that.
MEDIA: Create a simple ad to solve it
Your ad should provide value above all else (no more tell, yell, and sell. Rather, think caring and sharing). This is especially true when it comes to the social ad platforms where people are there to engage and interact, and shopping or buying is a secondary reaction.
MATRIX: Promote is using a highly targeted system
There are countless online advertising platforms available today and each one has its own unique demographic. The key here is to ONLY advertise on the platforms that your target market is on.
MAXIMIZE: Follow-up and stay top of mind
Use retargeting to cost effectively increase touch points and further the customer relationship. Very few sales are made on initial contact and retargeting (aka remarketing) is a great way to stay top of mind.”
It’s a 7 step process.
"The key principles for creating a successful online marketing campaign are:
- Properly identifying the target market
- Defining the core message(s)
- Creating a strong call to action
- Monitoring benchmarks for effectiveness
- Measuring responses and analyzing data
- Following up on leads to convert them into sales.
- Reviewing the campaign performance to determine what worked and what didn't."
Mention the problem first, then introduce your solution.
“It is of critical importance to acknowledge who your audience is, and at what point they are in the sales funnel. For example, often you see companies trying to sell a product or service based on what it is. I would propose concentrating on what the problems facing your target market are and presenting that to them as shared problem which needs solving. Once you share this perspective with your audience regarding the problem itself, you will have built some rapport with them, and they are more likely to hear you out a little longer in a marketing film for example."
Know your audience’s hot buttons and where they live online.
“The first, and most important, principle for a successful online advertising campaign will be to know your audience. Not just standard demographics (age/location/job title etc...), but what is important or will resonate with them.
Without an understanding of their hot buttons and the words your marketplace commonly uses, you will not be able to put the right message in front of the right people. The best way to accomplish this will be to interview past or current customers (5-10 will work) and if you can’t do this, the next best thing will be to sit down with the sales and CSR teams and try to pull this information out of them.
The second key principle is targeting. Marketing is all about putting the right message in front of the right people. So you need to know where your customers live online and then be very familiar with all the targeting and retargeting options available to you within these platforms. So you must be highly adept with these advertising platforms (i.e. Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn/Youtube etc...) and know how to zero in on your potential clients.”
Social media has better engagement than fancy visuals.
“Combine different types of content - and not just static graphics or video ads. Authentic, user-generated content like social media has much higher engagement than polished visuals.”
Know your customer and give them credible content.
“The number one thing you need to do if you want your ad campaign to be successful is to target the right people. Spend enough time knowing your avatar, your ideal customer and then learn what it takes to target those specific people with whatever ad platform you're using.
The second thing is to have a funnel in place. A funnel is a process through which you capture someone's contact information (Email, Phone Number, Social Media) and then educate them with incredible content.
The third one is to leverage retargeting or remarketing. Make sure to tag people who has already been in touch with your brand in one way or another but didn't become customers, there's a lot of ways to get creative with retargeting.”
Make emotional bonds with your audience
"Creating an immediate emotional connection / reaction with the target audience. Every social media post is an opportunity and advertisement. Having copy and visuals that truly reach their audience on an emotional level is at the core of any successful ad. Agreeing on success metrics with the client well in advance of the ad campaign is equally important.”
Be the best medicine to your audience’s problem
"Your advertising campaign, if focused on generating new sales, should clearly present a problem that buyers will align with and your product or service ought to be proposed as the best remedy.”
Build out audience profiles and then work through trial and errors
"Build out audience profiles from insights derived from data mining on the client's customer databases. Match demographics, psychographics, etc., to major publishers audience profiling options. Then build out creatives for each audience profile. Hook into the publisher APIs and automate daily / weekly reporting on audience & targeting performance. Then iterate until desired results are achieved.”
Make your content count - it’s what matters
"Deep and comprehensive content wins.
In order for modern SEO and content marketing to work, you have to be very efficient and even aggressive, at least initially. A bit of title and meta tag and on page edits here and a blog post there will get you nowhere fast.
If you are consistent and not only regularly create but promote content more often than you produce it, you win. So you need to leverage search and social media marketing together. You need a holistic strategy, not just one off blog posts and you need a team that is well skilled in project management to compete, now that Google and the social networks have very complex algorithms.”
Your ad strategy is predicated on ROI
"A successful display advertising strategy is predicated on ROI. Most of the planning around an efficient campaign happens before anything is ever input into any creative software or advertising platform, and revolves around deciding what specific targets your campaign should reach.
You may be tempted to mirror ads from large companies, but there is a big difference between general 'branding' advertising and advertising for the purpose of conversions/leads.
An ideal ad-campaign should be designed to 'talk' to a very specific person.
- A HR manager who works in offices of 25-50 people
- An IT professional who is a decision maker at a Fortune 1000 company
- A small business owner in the fast casual vertical
The creative and 'hook' for your display ad should instantly grab the attention of the target. This can be done by clearly mentioning an issue that is known to them, and letting them know that you have a solution.
Once you've gotten a 'click' you should make sure that wherever the user is redirected to offers a clear flow for them to sign up, contact you, or learn more themselves. Directing them to your main website is usually not the most optimal strategy. Instead create a targeted landing page for the campaign.
At this point it's all up to your sales team to sell, or your product/service to sell itself!”
Find what is most relevant and important to your audience
- "Identify audience.
- Display what is most relevant to them (not you)
- Continual A-B-C-D testing is required by geo and demo
- Bring value - not sales spewing
- Landing Page is critical
- Landing page A-B-C-D testing continually
- Cover Competitive terms
- Cover your term ONLY if your competitors do
- Recurring $ Opportunity? > Remember emotional attachments are the strongest
- Transactional $? Incent referrals and keep to time sensitive deals
- Remarketing always (be specific)
- Ads + Content + Social Must all be common themed"
Constant measuring will help you find the right path
"Setting up an online Ad Campaign is only half the battle won, the other half is to optimize your campaign to ensure that it delivers the positive ROI you’re hoping for. So, how do you optimize?
Once your campaign is live, you have to continuously analyse its performance and make the necessary fixes to improve its effectiveness.
But, this doesn’t mean you have to resort to guessing. That’s where your data comes into play. Use the data you have to your advantage to get the most out of your ad campaigns.
Web Analytics tools like Google Analytics will help you track the key metrics and customer behavior on your site.
Also, when you measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign, you come to know whether or not your campaign was a success. You would understand what worked for you and what didn’t, and this learning could be highly beneficial for you in the long run.
Always remember to ask this key question - Does this ad justify the marketing expense and is it delivering the estimated results?”
Make your ad copy match your data
“First you would need to analyze the data from your followers on all platforms. Once you know what they like and want to respond to, I would tailor the ad tell along the lines of the data. Targeting the key and display advertising and depending on what platform you use for your display advertising as key also.”
Use the power of data and industry knowledge
“Start with a strong pre-planning process. Understand the goals and KPIs. Understand past advertiser successes and failures. Then do due diligence in looking at all available data - syndicated third party, first party and people based data. Use tribal knowledge to assess costs, tactics and expected outcomes. Use industry knowledge tied to consumer behavior and advertising best practices. Include mobile ad sizes to reach users across devices. Develop creative in HTML5 if possible. Finally, define the types of properties that ads should and shouldn't run on to benefit from contextual relevancy.”
Know what you want from your ad
“From more than 20 years in the creative space, I think the two biggest things you can do to win at online advertising are:
1) Make sure you understand and can clearly communicate what you want the advertising campaign to do and how you will measure it. You don't have to have all the answers, but the more clear you are at the start of a campaign, the more productive your dollars will be.
A few questions to think about here: Are you looking to drive awareness and clicks from anyone? Do you want women between age 18 and 30 to come to your e-commerce site and buy something or at least start a shopping experience? What will move the needle for your company?
2) Find an advertising agency that has a track record of delivering this type of value in your industry. You can search for advertising agencies working in your industry on Agency Spotter and even read client reviews to get a feel of who is worth getting on the phone with.
The right agency partner will help you go a lot farther in your own career as well as get you the right results for your company. Think of them as a partner, an extension of your team, and not just a service provider to improve collaboration and build something great together.”
Don’t make assumptions - know your audience, what they like, and test everything
“Most of the businesses just like you take a shot at new ad campaigns, expecting the magic ball to help them hit the end goal.
They try with different demographics, varied interests, test their ad copies, and even use different images.
Unfortunately, for some unseen reasons, their ad campaigns fail or don’t perform as per the expectation.
Here are the three fundamental principles of creating a successful online advertising campaign:
1) Your Ad Creative Decides The Fate
Most of the ad campaigns fail to crack it. Even after acing the targeting, if you ad creative doesn’t resonate with the interest of your audience, it’s a red flag.
Alongside the graphic, your value proposition should be the center theme of your ad creative. Brad Smith has put a fantastic guide on high converting FB ad creatives. Make sure you check it out.
2) Your Offer Is The Key
With so many offers and ad campaigns going round, your offer in combination with your ad creative play a critical role in differentiating your campaign
Use psychological techniques like - Scarcity, Social Proof, and FOMO in your ad creatives. They work and trigger users to take actions.
But, all these will help only when your offer is irresistible.
3) Test Each & Every Element Of Your Campaign
Whether it is your target audience, ad copy, or ad creative, you gotta test everything. Don’t assume anything.
Unless you test the different variants of your ad copy and creative, you won’t know what is working for you and where do you need to improve.”
Make sure your ad goals and brand objectives complement each other
“Where do you start if you are determined to build a winning display advertising strategy? Well, there are several steps to setting up an advertising strategy, and the first step is to clearly define your advertising goals. Ensure this step is done properly, and consistent with your business goals, or you will go in circles.
To ensure that your advertising strategy contribute to your brand’s business objectives, here is a 3-step guide to assist you through the process.
Create a strategy - Goal setting is a must for all advertising and business strategies. Social media is no exception. A powerful advertising strategy will connect you with your target audience and draw them to you. When you have clear goals and how you will identify successful tactics then "winning" becomes what your business does best.
Implement your strategy - Are you getting the results you want? Track your success on an ongoing basis to see if your newly developed strategy is working. Analyze and measure your strategy's effectiveness to begin working towards your version of winning. Evaluate each facet of the strategy to see if you are meeting the goals you are trying to reach, and if they are consistent with your advertising objectives.
Repeat your strategy - Identify what works. Multiply the strategies that work best. It is important to tweak your advertising strategy continuously to remain current with industry changes and to be more effective in your marketing approach to your current audience and also to gain new interest.
And finally, you must have a plan and a reason for your campaign. Don’t just advertise to get your name out there. You have to have a goal, be it a consultation, email sign-up, coupon download etc... There are very few companies where it makes sense to advertise for simply name brand awareness so have a plan and goals in place for what you want to accomplish before spending a dime.”
It’s all about the right message
“Focus on your message. Display ads are a mass-consumed medium, and cutting through the noise is key. Forget the fancy programmatic strategy; if the message doesn't compel the consumer to act, all that precise targeting will be wasted.”
Ask “what do I want to achieve?”
“In my experience there are 5 main points we have to consider when creating a winning display advertising strategy. First we have to set campaign goals. Main question to ask is "What do I want to achieve with my ad?". Then set the targeting strategy. Targeting can be location based, demographic based or retargeting. Then we have to choose the right tool for campaign execution. This means we have to do a research on media buying options and choose the one which will help us to achieve our goals. After the strategy is set, next important factor is designing banners. In my experience, simplicity is always a winner in display advertising. Finally we have to have optimized landing pages where we have a good chance of conversion and positive ROI.”
Test variations of your ad
“Do lots of testing. The relationship between a brand and an audience is constantly evolving. You should never take what you don't know for granted. The best way to elevate the effectiveness of your ads is to produce bold, diverse variations of your ads. Then put them in front of real people in your ideal audience. Your conversion rates, volume of conversions, and cost per conversion will tell you which to choose."