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Driving better engagement with your online advertising

It was only a few years ago that online advertising was seen as the golden child. It was particularly beneficial for small businesses as it carried considerably lower costs and was seen as 100% measurable.

However, as with all forms of advertising, getting the engagement or response from your target audience has been no easier with online advertising. Typically, a decent click-through rate for an online ad is 0.05%.

There are a number of things you can do to improve the performance of your online advertising and better engage and influence your target audience.  

Coming up with customer insights

Finding consumer insights before implementing online advertising campaigns is vital and will make your advertising more engaging. Consumer insights help you understand where your customers are found online and how they behave.

Information about consumers can come from many sources. These can include website analytics, social media networks, Google keyword tool and Google trends as well as general web research and statistical information provided by the government and private companies.

The benefits of doing thorough consumer research include:

•    Understanding the consumer behaviour of your current and potential customers.
•    Visualising the perfect customer. Having a clear customer profile means you will know who you’re speaking to and be able to construct hyper-targeted ads.
•    Predicting where your customers can be found online and when they are most likely to make purchases. This will help you implement ads in the right place and at the right time.

Some free and easy-to-use online tools you can use for your own research include Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends. Both of these can help you to understand how consumers search for products and services on Google.

If you have a Facebook page for your business, Facebook Insights can also provide you with useful information about who your consumers are and how they interact with your business.

Create compelling copy for your online advertising
Relevancy is key to compelling content. If you have a deep understanding of your customers and their habits online, you can better target your advertising messages so they are more memorable and powerful.  

Some general tips for writing engaging copy for online advertising include:

•    Use the language that resonates with your audience. For example, if you are appealing to a corporate market, use a professional tone or if you are speaking to a young audience, use a colloquial tone.
•    Use the right phrasing. For example, you can ask a question like ‘what will you buy your mum this Christmas?’ Use a call-to-action such as ‘subscribe to this newsletter or announce an offer such as a ‘secret sale’. The option you choose will depend on what you know about your consumers.
•    Highlight your unique selling proposition. If your business has several strengths choose one that reflects what your target audience is interested in. For instance, it could be low prices, the quality of service or, an unparalleled variety of choices. Craft your ad around this strength.

Images and formatting
How your advertising looks and feels online play a big part in its appeal to potential customers. The colours and images you use and the way your ad is set out will impact if your ad is eye-catching, interesting, whether it prompts an emotional response or if it motivates clicks to your website.

There are a few aspects to take into consideration:

•    Formatting. Make sure your ad is formatted properly with correct casing and spelling. You only get a very small window of opportunity when it comes to grabbing the attention of your customer so make sure they get a good first impression by looking at your ad.
•    Choose the right image. Use the right image to capture your audience’s attention. As a general rule people pay attention to faces so it makes sense to use an image that reflects your target audience.
•    Be bold. Bold colours with simple backdrops tend to be eye-catching. You can also use specific colours to communicate a mood if this is appropriate for your campaign and for your target audience (for example entertainment businesses might use colourful images while a funeral home would use sombre colours).

Align online advertising with your broader marketing strategy
For online advertising to be effective it should fit smoothly with your broader marketing strategy and planning. This means it has to complement your other marketing efforts, communicate the same key messages to the target audience and aim to achieve the same goals as your other tactics.

Use your market research to inform both your online advertising efforts and your broader marketing strategies. This will help you create consistency between the different tactics and develop an integrated marketing campaign that utilises different mediums to successfully influence your target audience.

Lauren Brown is the managing director of Pulse Marketing.

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