Online ads can do wonders for your business—if you’re smart about deploying them. It’s one thing to know how to create an ad for social media or search engine results pages, but quite another to build an effective one.
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How do you devise and execute an online ad strategy that works? That’s that question we’ll answer here.
First, let’s remind ourselves about the various new media ad channels that exist.
Online Ad Types
These are the types of online ads that exist today.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC, Or ‘Paid Search)
Here, you’ll bid for keywords that people search for a lot when they use search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc). If you set up PPC content from your site will show up at the top of the search results pages whenever someone searches the keyword you’ve bid for.
Here’s an example. Let’s say your business bakes cakes, and you’ve set up PPC for the keyword “bakery in Lagos”. Anyone who searches the term “Bakery in Lagos” on Google will see content with a link to your site at or near the top of the search results page.
If you’re going to use PPC, ensure that your product or service is something that’s really in demand and that you get the parameters for the target audience right. There’s more on this shortly.
Social Media Ads
The great thing about social media ads is that they allow you to target a very specific set of customers. You can do this by selecting from a large number of parameters, including demographic characteristics of the target audience (gender, age, income, level of education, etc) and interests.
There are several social media ad formats. They include image ads, carousel ads (a showcase of several images or videos), video ads, messenger ads (Facebook and Instagram), stories ads, and conversational ads (Twitter).
Brands can pay websites to produce and publish content on their platform, on behalf of the brand. The content looks just like any other material on the site but maybe marked as sponsored.
These partnerships are effective because they can convey the brand message without being ‘sales-y’. With the right kind of content marketing strategy, these posts can yield great results for the organizations that utilize them.
This involves placing visual ads on websites and apps.
The two dominant platforms for this are the Google Display Network and the Facebook Audience Network. They’re both designed to target audiences you may be interested in, across the websites they may be visiting.
The Google Display Network enables automated targeting and bidding, which may allow you to reach the most lucrative audiences for your product and services. You may also retarget people who have visited your page but haven’t been converted. The Facebook Audience Network lets advertisers place ads on the many websites within its network.
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How To Create Online Ads That Convert
Now that we’ve examined the online ad channels available to you, let’s look at the many ways you can make them work to your advantage.
Use Engaging Headlines
For text ads, the first thing most viewers will see is the headline. And unless the headline piques their interest, they may not be drawn to it. That’s why you need to craft a headline that grabs their attention.
But how do you do this? Start by putting yourself in the audience’s shoes. What sort of headline would make you stop and take another look? What will make you want to click the link?
Here’s a little tip: use a headline that promises a solution to the reader’s problem (the one your business exists to solve). Do this with some savvy, inviting words, and you’ll make them want to find out more.
Make The Visuals Work
If you’re using a banner or video, you’ll want to deploy one that appeals aesthetically to the viewer. Often, simple designs with the right (or relevant) images and colour combinations are best. Avoid clutter (especially with text). The text elements of your banner should be done with fonts that are legible and blend.
For video, ensure that the narrative that it conveys isn’t convoluted or difficult to understand. Also, watch the length; attention spans are short these days, so you don’t want to waste the viewer’s time. Marketing experts suggest an average span of 30 seconds; if you want to push it a bit, it shouldn’t exceed 60 seconds.
Limit Your Text
This applies whether you’re using text-based ads or visual ads.
You may have a little more leeway with text if it’s a text-based ad. It’s the primary medium of communication in that case, and you’ll want to get your message across. But don’t get too wordy. Again, attention spans are short, so you want to be concise.
There’s even less use for text in visuals. Banners will need some of it, but do your best to make it brief. The colour and image combinations should be powerful enough to attract the viewer.
Stay True To Your Brand
When working on colour and imagery, aim to make your general style memorable. The principal guide should be your brand. The colours, text, and images you use should rhyme with the logo and text fonts associated with your brand.
If you’re at a loss as to how to get these things done, you may get an in-house or freelance graphic designer to help with the creative side of the ad pieces.
Have A Clear Call To Action
The people who view your ads should be able to tell what you want them to do. A powerful Call to Action (CTA) will take care of this.
The CTA you use should depend on the action or conversion you seek to initiate. If the action you’re seeking is for the viewer or reader to go further on in a buyer journey, you may use a CTA like ‘Learn More’. But if you would like them to make a purchase immediately, a CTA like ‘Order Now’ would be appropriate.
Talk More About Values And Less About Features
You may be tempted to fuss about your product’s attractive features. But that won’t necessarily help your prospects in any meaningful way. Instead, make the ad about your viewer’s problem, and how your product or service solves it. Or make it about their lifestyle, and how your product enhances it.
Make the messaging about your prospect, and let them know why they need your offering.
Use The Right Parameters
We mentioned that online ads allow you to define your audiences with a high degree of precision. But if you’re going to use this tool the right way, you’ll need to have a thorough knowledge of who your customers are.
Things you should know about them include their age bracket, income levels, location, education levels, and interests. Social media ads allow you to aim your ads at people based on these and many other characteristics. Your potential audience may shrink with each parameter added, but the quality of the field you’re targeting will increase.
With many options to choose from, online ads are a brilliant way to connect with potential customers. Succeeding with them requires some knowledge of what they are and how they should be used. This article has provided you with information on both fronts. It’s up to you to follow them and make the ads work for you.
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Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.