What Works? Print or Digital Advertising?
A lot of people talk about advertising, and about print versus digital. I frequently hear “Oh, digital is much better because I can show ROI.”
Well, here’s a news flash – if you do print advertising right – you can show ROI for print too. ‘How’ is actually pretty simple. We use a vanity URL that drives to a specific landing page on a company’s website, e-marketing platform or automated platform, so the customer can track all of the traffic and where it comes from.
But what have we found?
The data we’ve generated shows that when you only do digital ads and you don’t do print ads, you don’t get as many hits. When you run both print and digital advertising campaigns, you receive far more leads.
For science-based organizations, you do need to place some print advertising. You don’t have to do as much print as you used to, but you need to do some. The reason is: we (your audience) need to see messages six to eight times before it registers in our brains.
Imagine – if your customer is only seeing your ads digitally, then you are missing key opportunities elsewhere to deliver your ad message. Think about your customer – they’ll likely also be thumbing through a science magazine, or reading a trade publication (especially when that issue covers a topic specific to your market space).
The sweet spot for generating the most interest in a print ad is placing your ad right in the middle of a trade journal – with relevant copy that combines the editorial topics with what you do and what what you sell. When we work with clients to develop advertising campaigns and programs, we research editorial calendars to choose the most appropriate trade journals and where to place a customer’s ad.
What Advertising Doesn’t Work Well?
One ad. One time. Whether it’s digital or print, I don’t believe one-off ads work. (A one-off is when a company chooses to do only one ad and never does any other kind of advertisement in a publication or on a digital platform.)
I think it’s a mistake to run one ad and stop. What would your audience think? They see you once (maybe – since it takes six to eight times to register a message) and then even though they continue to engage with the channel where the ad appeared, they never see your company again. Did you discontinue your product or service? Did you go out of business? What happened to you? The likelihood of them becoming a customer pretty much disappears!
But, if we do agree to run an ad one time, we laser target it based on the editorial content running on the chosen platform. If that editorial content matches what you’re selling and what your market is, then that’s the place we want to be.
Digital Advertising – A Winner for Science Organizations
Digital ads are available virtually everywhere. The key to choosing the right digital spaces on which to advertise is traffic. For instance, does the identified trade publication receive enough traffic on their digital platform to justify the ad placement?
A quick word about traffic: you shouldn’t be simply looking for the highest level of traffic (say 100,000 viewers). You need to look at the quality of traffic – is it the right targeted niche audience? You don’t need 100,000 viewers if only 3,000 of those viewers are your target audience. If I can run ads on a website where all 3,000 of its viewers are my audience, well then – that is the best place for my customer’s ad.
Google Ads: AdWords and Display Ads
What gives you the most “bang for the buck”? We’ve been working with clients, and in quite a few instances we’ve moved them away from Google AdWords and into Display Ads.
Let me explain why.
When you build a program for Google Ads, you have to build with key phrases. We used to say ‘key words,’ but since people ask search engines questions it’s not single words anymore … we now use key phrases. And when we build an Google Ads program, we also build it with negative phrases – meaning your ad is not shown to anyone who searches for one of the negative phrases.
Brandwidth Solutions had a client that did Vitamin D testing in patients. When we built their campaign, we created the negative phrase ‘milk vitamin D testing.’ The client’s audience was not people who wanted to test their milk for vitamin D, or measure the levels of vitamin D in their milk. Using a negative phrase allowed us to prevent ‘milk testers’ from seeing the Google Ad.
The reason we moved to Display Ads is because the costs per click in the Adwords auctions have risen too high to be a cost-effective advertising option. In some industries, prices have soared as high as $25 per click, and many marketing departments don’t have budgets for that level of spending.
Google Display Ads function somewhat similar to Google Ads in that you define key terms and phrases, and also create negative key terms and phrases. But, in this case, it’s for people who have already searched for your type of product. It’s all about relevancy.
When an individual who has searched for your product is playing solitaire, a display ad pops up for something in which they are interested. It might be an ad for a trade show, since they have searched for related products or services.
The cool thing about Display Ads? The cost per click is user selected. That means you can choose a fee as low as five cents per click. You should know that a per click cost that low will affect not only where your ad appears but also the time of day it appears. But with a display ad campaign you get clicks and impressions – but you only pay for clicks.
So, let me give you an example.
One software client had traditionally used Google AdWords. We expanded their program to encompass both Google Display Ads as well as their AdWords program. In a one-week period, they had 77 clicks for AdWords ads. In less than one-third that time – 48 hours – they experienced 111 clicks using a Google Display Ad. The Google Ad was priced at $2.83 per click, while the Google Display Ad was 50 cents. So, in less than 1/3 the time, they grew clicks by 30+% for about a quarter of the cost.
But there is a trick to Google Display Ads (and Google in general!) Google makes changes in their ad requirements and in the way those ads must be created all the time. You need to stay up to date with Google changes and the format they are looking for. Currently you need to build your ad in Google’s internal tool unless you have been approved to build them outside their platform in HTML5.
Making Your Advertising Work
For advertising to work – to produce leads and show real ROI – you need to do more than produce a pretty ad with good copy and a phone number.
You need to have a full system set up to support the ad and an automation process to gather those leads. It’s all part of the wheel that keeps your marketing moving forward.
When we develop ad campaigns for clients – whether digital or print or both – we make certain that the ad is linked to a customized landing page created specifically for that campaign which tells the potential customer what to do next.
We don’t just provide a link to the customer’s website. If you drop people on the homepage your website, you have created two problems which ensure that your ad campaign won’t return a good ROI:
- You haven’t finished your marketing message; and
- You haven’t told your potential customer what you want them to do next.
You want your ad campaign to generate leads. That customized landing page is the mechanism by which you do that. In the best case scenario, we’ll develop a landing page that allows your potential customer to download a white paper. This gives your potential client valuable information they are clearly interested in AND it gives you a name and contact information for your sales team to use for follow up.
One quick thought, ask for a name, company name and email address. Don’t ask for 20 different pieces of information – no new lead will give you that much information. You’ll lose them.
Ask yourself: “Is my job to encourage them, so they keep looking at us? Or is my job only to get a few leads?” If you ask for lots of personal information, you won’t get very many leads.
Once you have those leads in your system, you’ve thanked them for registering and they have access to your white paper, you’ve completed your first step in nurturing that new lead.
Developing an ad campaign with a full marketing support system behind it is the best way to ensure that your advertising works and returns an ROI you can justify.