Your Guide to Crafting a Digital Advertising Strategy in 2016

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Your Guide to Crafting a Digital Advertising Strategy in 2016

Organic search rankings and traffic are often the focus of every business' marketing efforts, but strategic online advertising campaigns need a place in your marketing plan. While we all want increases in traffic and rankings, targeted ads done well can help you reach specific audiences with your message and give you the ROI you want.

What are the Different Types of Digital Advertising?

Integrating targeted advertising campaigns into your overall marketing strategy can increase brand awareness, lead to more website visitors and ultimately gain new customers (which, as marketers, is what we're all after). And, we're no longer limited to just running ads on AdWords or display ads on certain websites.

Today, social media advertising is a strong player for our ad spends because of its ability to segment down to your specific customer demographics.

The Value of Google AdWords

Let's start with AdWords. We all know Google is a HUGE player in the field; in fact, their brand is synonomous with search ("let me Google that"), and they capture 63% of all search volume.

Did you know that Google got $2 of every $5 that marketers spent in 2015, totaling $183.66 billion (Source:

Savvy marketers would not continue to pour their money into this outlet if it wasn't working. Experts are even forecasting this amount to be up to $204 billion by 2017.

The Growing Popularity of Social Media Advertising

But reports also show that social ad spending is up and will continue to rise, accounting for about 16% of all digital ad spending worldwide (Source: eMarketer). Advertisers in North America spent more than $50 per user across all social channels in 2015.

So we can't exclude Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even Houzz and Pinterest from our brainstorming sessions. These social channels are ideal for B2C marketing strategies and brand building.

How to Make the Most of Digital Advertising

Approve a healthy Ad budget

As you plan your ad campaign, ask yourself some of these questions: what demographic are you trying to reach? Should you run this campaign only on search or include social? Are your keywords targeted to those in a buying mindset or those still shopping their options?

Depending on your industry, your budget may need to be increased because of higher competition for keywords. Think strategically here — yes, high-volume keywords are important, but these are also typically more per click and will deplete your budget quickly. Bid on long-tail keywords to help narrow the focus of the user's search.

Rather than paying $5.25 per click for "landscape companies," I would instead look for keywords that narrow this a bit more like "landscape companies in germantown tn" or "weed control germantown tn".

Not sure how much to set aside? In my opinion, some of this is a guessing game, and you need to try some things to see what sticks. You can be somewhat aggressive, and then pull back as you see what's working or not working.

Decide what you're comfortable spending daily and multiple that by 30.4 (average days in a month).

This will give you a rough idea of how much to set aside, and then you can fine-tune that daily budget as you see what terms are getting clicks, which turn into actual leads, etc. To me, that's the beauty of running digital advertising: you can watch your spend closely, altering content, daily budgets, reach and more in real-time.

Run the right ad content

Setting up a campaign can be a little overwhelming if you don't do this very often, but don't rush through your ad content just to have your campaign live. What someone sees or reads in your ad is what makes all the difference between skimming over it and actually clicking. Make the visuals and messaging count. Does your content meet these criteria?

  1. Is it visual?
  2. Is it relevant to the search and the user?
  3. Is the message enticing?
  4. Is my call-to-action strong?

Most will probably start a campaign on Google, so let's analyze that platform first. With everything they do, Google has some pretty strict criteria for marketers using AdWords, and not following these will prevent your ads from being approved. Each PPC ad includes these three elements, so let's talk about how to make your ad stand out.

Ad Headline

This is what needs to grab someone's attention as they are quickly scanning the page. Consider using keywords to help the searcher identify you as a viable option for whatever their need is. But be careful here because the text needs to be relevant — no click baiting — and pretty short, as you're limited to 25 characters.

Example: Boost your home's curb appeal (25)
Display URL

This isn't complicated — this is simply the url to show the searcher. Best practice is to use your website address, even if you are sending them to a page other than the home page.

Set up a tracking link so you can see traffic in Google Analytics coming from this keyword or campaign. Need help with that? Just ask, and we can walk you through how to do it.


Bring in some copywriting flair to draw interest. You can't be verbose because of a strict character limit (70 characters on desktop, 35 on mobile) but please, don't be bland. (Keep this in mind when writing your description: on mobile your second description line will be dropped off, so make sure the first line is strong enough to stand on its own.)

Premier home landscaping in Germantown. (35)
BBB member. Get a free quote. (24)
Consider your Advertising channels

AdWords is not your only option when it comes to digital advertising. Depending on your business and who you're trying to reach, campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz and even LinkedIn can be very effective, especially for businesses hoping to connect directly with consumers. The key here is to modify your campaign to fit each unique channel.  

Instagram Advertising

For example, ads running on Instagram (like the example shown) should feature people interacting with your product in some way, and the text should be minimal to the overall ad design. Ads running on Instagram are only shown on mobile devices, so make sure your ad and call-to-action is appropriate for mobile users. Even consider how gifs and videos can entice consumers to connect with your brand.

LinkedIn Sponsored Posts & PPC

LinkedIn is a little different in that you can push sponsored content and posts or run more traditional PPC ads. Both can be effective, but it depends on what you're hoping to spark.

If you're looking to build more fans for your brand or a new product, sponsored posts might be the way to go. The content can be shared in your user's voice or from their point of view, and you have much more freedom in terms of how much content to include.

Personally, our brand has found success using the traditional PPC ads on LinkedIn because of the ability to target by industry and job title, as well as geography.

Get specific with targeting

The more targeted you can make your ads both in copy and in reach, the more effective your campaign will be. It used to be that the only real segmentation we could do was with geo-targeting, but today things like Facebook's Custom Audiences Tool help us target more specifically to our customer base.

I can easily upload an existing customer list with email addresses or phone numbers, or select criteria that match ideal customers. Start by indentifying the characteristics of your current customers, and then target those characteristics that match your criteria (age, market, interests, etc.). Retargeting is also appropriate here and pretty simple to do. Consider advertising to those who visited a particular page(s) of your website. Yep, you can do that.

Track your results & tweak your ad

I love metrics, and if I'm spending a dollar, I want to see how it can become $2 or, better yet, $5. Tracking each campaign is important.

A/B testing is a big part of this. Create variations of ads with subtle differences, like using the same background image but change copy so one uses a discount and one has a silly message. Which one produced more clicks? Which created a lead?

Maybe your ads are producing great results with click-thrus, but your landing page isn't converting any of that traffic. Consider testing landing page variations to see if you can convert more when the background color changes from black to white, or shorten the form to just two fields, instead of five. There are a ton of variables you can change and even a subtle shift can make a big difference in conversions.

If you're running digital ad campaigns, be eager to make tweaks and retest. You'll find the right mix that entices consumers to interact with your brand, creating new fans, followers and, hopefully, customers.

The possibilities with online advertising are endless, but don't get overwhelmed. Our marketing experts would love to brainstorm with you and help you craft a targeted advertising strategy for your business. Let's talk digital advertising.
Posted by Amanda Evans at 2:00 PM