Where Should I Advertise Online?

Gone are the days when you advertised solely on TV, radio, and in the newspaper. Now, your audience’s attention is split across thousands of websites and podcasts.

The real question is, “Where is my audience focused when they’re thinking about and searching for my product/service?” The answer is slightly different for every business.

The Options

To better understand this, let’s take online advertising and break it into parts: social sites, search engines, and the display network.

Social sites are platforms like Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They each allow native advertising and the ability to create custom audiences for your unique business.

Search engines are Yahoo, Bing, and Google. You can advertise through pay-per-click campaigns to target specific search keywords.

The display network allows you to host ads on other websites. You can target people who have previously visited your website (using retargeting cookies). You can also display ads on a given website that you specify or go after a custom audience you define.


The Strategy

In each instance, our audience is in a different buying stage. On search engines, customers are usually more intentional, ready to buy a product or service. On social sites, they are there to see what their friends are up to but can be drawn away by a compelling ad. On the display network, they’re busy reading a website’s original content and normally aren’t in the buying mindset. But having an ad on the page is a good way to promote brand awareness by reminding them your product exists.

To explain where to advertise online, I’ll use two businesses to show you what two different custom online marketing strategies might look like. The first is a national manufacturing business that sells direct-to-consumer gardening tools. The second is a local chiropractor trying to communicate the benefits of chiropractic services to a specific local audience.


Scenario 1

First, let’s look at the national gardening tool manufacturer. Their products are hedge trimmers, trowels, and organic pesticides. They’ve historically sold their products to retailers like Lowes and Home Depot but think they can get a better profit margin by selling direct to consumers through an online store. As a digital marketer, I want to make their marketing budget as efficient as possible. That means only delivering advertisements to individuals who are likely to buy their products. After some market research, we’ve defined their target audiences as hobby gardeners and landscape professionals.

To help develop the brand in these audiences’ minds before they intentionally search for a product, we need to create some brand awareness campaigns on different social sites. For our gardening tool manufacturer, I’d suggest creating ads on Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. On Facebook and Pinterest, we can create custom audiences of people who search gardening keywords and are interested in gardening. On LinkedIn, I’d create a custom audience targeting owners and employees of local landscape companies.

Knowing who to target and how is part of the battle. The other part is creating a piece of compelling content to include in these ads that will help build a value proposition for the brand. For our gardening tool manufacturer, there are a lot of options for great pieces of social content to promote, including:

  • A comparison infographic showing the pros and cons of the tools versus competitor options
  • A video of a gardener creating a beautiful garden with the brand’s tools
  • A blog post or video showcasing a series of reviews from satisfied customers

Next, lets create a few pay-per-click advertising campaigns on search engines. We could target specific keywords that gardeners and landscape professionals use to search for their products. When people search for those keywords, they’ll find a targeted ad displaying the product that links directly to the manufacturer’s website. The benefit of having this ad campaign is that the consumer is in the correct buying mindset. They’re intentionally searching for these products.

But, if this is the only advertisement the manufacturer is running, they probably haven’t developed enough trust with the consumer to make them feel comfortable enough to purchase the product. Hypothetically, if price is the same for competitors, the trust the consumer feels for a specific brand would be the deciding factor of choosing one over the other. To develop trust, you need to initially promote brand awareness on other platforms. Giving consumers access to read reviews is a good way to increase trust (assuming the gardening tools are solid quality).

If the pay-per-click campaign drives the consumer to visit the website but they didn’t purchase, we’ll target them with a retargeting campaign advertising on the display network. This will remind them of the brand. In the ads, you can feature high-quality reviews from other customers and instill social trust in the potential customer’s mind. These display ads are relatively cheap and will stop following the user after they’ve become disinterested in the product.


Scenario 2

Second, let’s look at the local chiropractor. For this business, we would start with a search engine pay-per-click campaign, focused on specific chiropractic keywords. Within that campaign, we should also add a local map pack ad in the mix, so potential customers can easily call, visit the website, or get directions directly from the Google’s map pack search results. Those are the search results that show what’s near you pinpointed on a map.

In the screenshot below, you’ll see that True Wellness is running a pay-per-click ad that display at the top of the results. They’re running a map pack ad that displays at the top of the map pack results, as well.

We could also advertise on Yelp, driving people searching on that social review platform towards the chiropractor’s page. Again, we’ve now covered most of the bases to advertise to consumers actively searching for the chiropractor’s services, but we need to take the next step and promote the services to people who don’t even know they need them. We need to develop content that shows potential customers the benefits of chiropractic services and common painful issues that these services can resolve.

After that content is added to the website, we would look at the chiropractor’s past customers and mirror their demographic information to create custom audiences in Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. We’d advertise to these individuals and lead them to the content we created. As the campaign progresses, we can judge the effectiveness of the content by how many people clicked it, read it, and submitted a contact form on the website for more information.


Final Remarks

When developing an online marketing strategy, you ultimately need to understand where your audience is and then develop ads to communicate your brand’s value proposition in that specific location. Each business is different, and it will take time to find exactly where and how to communicate to your audience. If you have any questions around digital marketing, send them our way!