Conceptualizing a Digital Ad from Start to Finish

by aschmidt

conceptualize_a_digital_ad_from_start_to_finishDigital advertising is one of the most popular tools that brands use to achieve their strategic objectives, and when done right, it can drive a steady stream of highly targeted leads and customers to your website. While this may sound like a marketer’s utopia, anyone who’s been in the digital advertising space for any length of time will tell you that great click-through and conversion rates for digital ads are not the easiest thing to come by. But the secret lies in how well you do one extremely important thing before you start.

Many businesses achieve less-than-stellar results from their digital advertising campaigns due to not having a well-thought-out plan, which includes far more than just clever ad text. A successful digital advertising campaign contains many moving parts, each of which must serve the purpose of moving prospects toward the desired end result. With this comprehensive view in mind, below are some handy tips and strategies that will help you conceptualize an effective digital ad from start to finish.

1. Begin with a clear end result in mind.

While this may seem like an obvious point, it’s amazing how many businesses launch a digital ad with only a vague idea of what it is they’re trying to accomplish. Of course, all of our business activities are designed to eventually bring more money onto the balance sheet, but what are the exact methods and strategies we should use to get there?

It’s critical to start off with a clearly stated objective, so that you can tailor all components of the campaign toward that end. What part of the sales funnel do you want to emphasize with your campaign? Do you want to generate leads, create brand awareness or drive visitors directly to the point of sale? Simply put, what is it exactly that you want your visitors to do once they click on your ad? Starting out with a clear objective will help you trim the fat early on, so you won’t waste time or money pursuing what won’t actually move you towards your goal.

2. Make sure that your end result is measurable.

The thought of prospects “falling in love with your brand” sounds great, but it’s next to impossible to specifically define or measure. You need to make sure that your stated objective is clearly measurable, which typically means keeping track of some type of numerical data.

This could mean selling a certain number of units of your product, or achieving a certain number of opt-ins for your email list. While numbers don’t always tell the complete story, they’re one of the most reliable indicators you can use to let you know if you’re on target or not. Attaching a numeric goal to your overall objective will give you a better feel for measuring the performance of your campaign, and an idea if your expectations are realistic.

3. Make your visitors’ activity trackable.

This falls right in line with the above point. You cannot measure data that is not being adequately tracked. Use some type of tracking system to keep tabs on visitor activity. Some common tracking tools include campaign-specific QR codes, URLs, phone numbers or web forms.

When you collect your data, you should be able see a clear picture of where your visitors are coming from, and what they’re doing once they get to your offer. Once you’ve established these systems, you’ll be able to see which channels are performing the best, so you can continue directing resources toward your most well-performing areas.

4. Create a landing page that the ad will click through to.

When an interested prospect clicks on your digital ad, where will they go? Here’s a tip: Your homepage may not be the best destination. You need to build a campaign-specific landing page that will be highly relevant to the visitor’s needs, and that will act as a continuation of the journey that the visitor began when he/she clicked on your ad.

This includes having a consistent look and feel in comparison to the ad creative, as well as a continuity of theme. You don’t want visitors falling through the cracks due to inconsistency, so be sure your landing page(s) is highly relevant to the ad you’re running.

5. Design the ad in a way that speaks to your target customer’s needs.

With a nine-figure advertising budget, Geico can afford to delve into the realm of the odd and humorous, but those of us who have much smaller budgets need to play it a little tighter when it comes to ad design and copy. Whether you’re running text-based ads (think Google AdWords) or image-based display ads, be sure to keep things simple, to the point and laser-focused on addressing your target customer’s needs.

Pose questions or make statements that address certain common pain points of your customers. Make the text dynamic and action-oriented, using words like “get,” “find,” “discover,” “see,” “start,” “have,” etc., to make your prospect an active participant in your message from the start. Images should also serve to support the main idea behind the ad, not distract visitors from it.

6. Familiarize yourself with your chosen advertising platform.

There are tons of PPC and display advertising networks out there, so whichever one you choose, you need to make sure that you’re well-versed in using their advertising platform and/or self-serve interface before launching your campaign. If the ad network offers any kind of downloadable beginner’s guides or help files, make sure to read them, and take time to assimilate the information.

Networks like Google AdWords have tons of informative guides, help files and how-to videos to get you started off on the right foot. Even if you’re having someone else run your campaigns, it’s a good idea to not be completely in the dark – if only so that you’ll understand the analytics.

Once you start putting these steps into practice, you’ll gain a much greater grasp of what it takes to have a successful digital advertising campaign. Just remember that an effective digital ad takes time, thought and preparation.

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