Choosing the Most Effective Digital Channels to Achieve Your Marketing Goals
As a business owner or marketer, deciding where to spend your digital marketing budget can be a huge undertaking. It’s difficult to know which platform will deliver the best ROI without historical data, though you can still make smart decisions. The beauty of running digital ads is that you can – and should – make changes as needed. When reviewing a channel or particular campaign’s performance, simplify identify what’s working and what’s not, then continue to optimize on these choices over time.
First, it’s important to know your audience so you understand where they go for information and how they spend their time online. If you’re able to do that, you’re more likely to anticipate which channels will work best to achieve your goals. Once you know your audience, making the decision to proceed with one – or a combination of – the following digital channels requires taking a closer look at the features and benefits of each platform.
Let’s jump in.
1. Facebook Advertising
With 1.49 billion daily active users, Facebook is one of the most effective platforms for reaching your audience, with a relatively low cost compared to other channels. Whether you’re a small business or large corporation, chances are your audience is on Facebook – making it a great place to get started even if you have yet to venture into the digital ad world.
As you’d expect, Facebook ads need to target the right people – at the right time – in order to be effective. Even with the major changes made in 2018, Facebook still provides one of the more robust targeting platforms. Targeting options are divided into three main categories: demographics, interests and behaviors, still allowing you to build specialized parameters around your audience.
Facebook asks its advertisers to set objectives to help execute effective campaigns – depending on whether the goal is to raise awareness, boost engagement or complete conversions. For those looking to increase brand awareness, Facebook offers the ability to run campaigns focused on getting your business’ name in front of as many users in your target audience as possible. In addition, Facebook Ads Manager has initiatives to increase lead generation, store visits and conversions, all of which have unique features and algorithms that help you achieve that objective. The platform also offers the ability to include/exclude placements in the News Feed, instant articles and Facebook stories as within their “ad network”.
You can also create custom and lookalike audiences which use advanced methods to build your target market. Custom audiences allow you to build a select list of users based on a variety of sources including:
- Customer File – External customer databases that match existing contacts to users on Facebook.
- Website Traffic – Uses the Facebook pixel to build a list based on FB users that visit your website.
- App Activity – Specific actions taken by users of your app based on the Facebook pixel.
- Offline Activity – Matches users that perform actions offline.
- Engagement – Lists users that interacted with your Facebook page, posts, video or ads.
Lookalike audiences allow you to generate a new list of users based on similar characteristics of users in a custom audience. Both features are unique to Facebook and can be a powerful way to target ads toward the right users.
From a budgeting perspective, Facebook is generally less expensive than other digital channels due to the number of active users which increases its inventory of available impressions. While budgeting will be different for everyone, consider running a test campaign and reviewing performance after 30-60 days. Once you have better insight into how your Facebook ads are performing, you will be able to optimize your ad campaign and respective budget based on performance data.
2. Instagram Advertising
While its user base isn’t as large as Facebook, Instagram has more than 500 million daily active users, 72 percent of whom report having made a purchasing decision based on something they saw while on the app. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you also have access to all of the features available in Facebook’s Ads Manager for Instagram ads. For a target audience that is likely to be active on both networks, this creates a seamless user experience between the channels.
Deciding if an Instagram is a good advertising channel requires knowledge of the platform’s demographics. According to Hootsuite, users under the age of 35 make up 70 percent of active Instagram accounts. Having a direct pipeline to younger generations should be noted by all marketers when determining if Instagram is a good option for advertising.
Beyond the demographics of its platform users, Instagram has several features that are unique to the channel. This includes Instagram TV (IGTV), the ability to geo-tag content, the addition of filters to make branding feel cohesive and the conversion of organic posts into paid advertisements.
From a budgeting perspective, Instagram ads can be slightly more expensive than Facebook. However, Instagram engagement is known to be higher than Facebook’s, so depending on your objectives, the extra money could certainly be worthwhile.
If you’re just getting started with advertising on Instagram, start small to find what works best for you and continue to evaluate as you go.
3. LinkedIn Advertising
While Facebook and Instagram can work for a broader audience (both B2C and B2B), LinkedIn advertising is best suited for business-to-business marketing. After all, it is the world’s largest networking site for professionals – more than 500 million of them.
In addition to allowing marketers to target their ads based on business demographics like company size, title, industry and geographic location, LinkedIn also offers several options for ad placement. These include display and text ads, sponsored content (similar to Facebook’s News Feed ads), sponsored InMail and company page ads to generate new followers.
When advertising on LinkedIn, the best approach is to focus on generating leads, especially for consumers that may be in the awareness and consideration stages of the marketing funnel. Since LinkedIn is used as a platform for connecting professionals and businesses, it’s important to make sure your ads are appropriate for this platform and its unique audience.
According to HubSpot, LinkedIn is 277 percent more effective for B2B lead generation than any other social media platform. That being said, be prepared to pay a bit more than you would on Facebook and Instagram, due to the fact that LinkedIn has a smaller active user base and less available impressions.
- $10 daily budget per campaign.
- $10 total budget per campaign (an optional feature for Sponsored Content).
- $2 minimum bid (for CPC or CPM).
While LinkedIn may be a bit more expensive than other platforms, if you’re able to capitalize on the quality of the audience, it’s a no-brainer to use this platform to test out some ads. As with any digital marketing initiative, we always recommend that you continuously evaluate and optimize campaigns for ROI.
4. Paid Search Advertising
When you’ve used a search engine in the past, you may have noticed ads at the top of the search results page.
Advertisers pay for these ads to appear before the organic search results. Though it’s not as simple as paying “x” amount for the top spot, the essence of paid search advertising is that you can pay to show up in search results for the keywords and phrases you’re targeting.
Running a paid search campaign is an effective strategy to reach users in the consideration stage of the marketing funnel. This is a great channel to capitalize on users that are actively looking for a solution to their problem, whether you’re looking for users to download an app, make a purchase, call your business, direct to your website or visit a physical location.
In addition to keyword targeting, Google’s ad platform also allows advertisers to layer in targeting based on a variety of factors including location, demographics, interests and in-market behaviors. With this, it’s important to have a well-defined audience so you can target your ads appropriately.
All that being said, paid search isn’t ideal for every business model. From a budgeting perspective, paid search generally requires a bit more of a resource investment, in terms of both time and money – although this can depend on the competition and cost of the keywords related to your industry.
We recommend exploring paid search if you understand the point in your buyer’s journey where users are ready to take action – as it can effectively position your brand as the solution the audience has been searching for.
5. Display Advertising
Display advertising gives marketers the opportunity to advertise on a variety of websites across the Internet. Display advertising can be developed using Google Ads or you can use a programmatic display vendor.
When using Google ads, your ads will run on the Google Display Network (GDN). The network includes various websites, YouTube and apps. In fact, there are more than 2 million sites that make up the GDN, which may have a reach of more than 90 percent of Internet users.
Go ahead, visit one of your favorite blogs or news sites (we’ll wait). Take a look at the advertisements that are displayed on the website – that, friends, is display advertising, and it is virtually everywhere you look.
Before you decide to run display ads, it’s important to acknowledge that the best fit for display ads are those focused on brand awareness and reaching a lot of users for a relatively low cost.
The display network is also great for remarketing users who have previously visited your website but didn’t convert. Have you ever looked at an item online, only to later see an ad for the same or similar item? It’s not a conspiracy – it’s called remarketing. This tactic allows advertisers to show ads to users who have previously been on their website to help keep products top of mind and to encourage users to head back to the site to make a purchase.
Tracking and measuring success are crucial to determining whether display advertising would be an effective way to reach your audience. These performance indicators should include measuring clicks, impressions and conversions.
When it comes to choosing the most effective digital channels to achieve your marketing goals, here are some questions you’ll need to answer:
- What is the main goal of your campaign?
- Who is your target audience?
- Which platforms do they use?
- Where do they go for information?
- How do prospects move through your marketing funnel?
- Does this tactic align with the overall marketing strategy?
- What is your budget?
- What internal resources are available for this effort?
Once you are able to answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what digital channels will work best for you.
And if you’re still not sure how to get started, give us a call.