A lot of businesses are coming to us right now to kick start their digital strategy. For some, it’s because they’ve seen some really good early returns from their initial forays into the digital world during COVID, and for others it’s something they’re keen to get started on as it becomes clear that we’re staying in the new normal.

Getting online has never been more important. Businesses want  to transition to an online booking system and brick and mortar shops want to build ecommerce platforms from scratch. Perhaps there is a  hole in your advertising from not being able to distribute leaflets or brochures, or nobody being at the local football club to see your hoardings. Or maybe you’ve applied for Government grants, and need an online strategy.

We’ve dealt with businesses at the earliest stages of their journey online, and guided them to a place where digital is not only a replacement, it’s irreplaceable. In this piece, we share our top tips for promoting your product online, so you know where to get started.

If you want more help, get in touch and we can chat through your unique situation.

1. Anything can sell on digital if you sell it right*

*Unless it’s something nobody wants, in which case it likely didn’t sell offline either.

“Digital” is a very broad term, and “online” is a very big place. There’s a platform and a market for nearly everything. There’s usually an ad format designed specifically to convince a user to take a certain action. Don’t be put off digital by the feeling “this just isn’t the sort of thing that sells on the internet”: There’s no such thing.

It could be finding the right platform:

  • Use Pinterest or Instagram to showcase a really aesthetically oriented product or service 
  • Snapchat or TikTok if you have a younger audience
  • Apple Search Ads or a UAC to drive people to download your app
  • Google Shopping or Facebook Catalogue ads for ecommerce
  • Google, LinkedIn etc. for B2B
  • The list is endless.
Google ad campaign example screenshot

There are exceptions to the above, and there’s also an ad format for almost anything: Getting contact details, selling tickets, app installs, or simply driving awareness and consideration. Pick the right one for what you’re trying to drive.

There’s absolutely no barriers to entry in online advertising, but competition is fierce. You can get great results with the right strategy. But, it’s also easy to waste money and let the big-tech platforms give you an unrealistic image of performance through click-and-go campaigns, so make sure you’re doing it right. Make sure that you’re splitting out Brand and non-Brand in Google ads, for example, and that you’re checking your attribution windows in Facebook.

Trust us, you can and will be able to do something online.

2. Tracking is vital

If you can measure something, you can maximise it.

If you have a website and a defined end-point that you want users to get to, you’ve done a lot of good work already. If you haven’t, let’s get that sorted first.

Digital advertising has a key big advantage to offline marketing, in that you’re able to trace everything, right back to the first step. If you can find out where they came from, you can drive more like them.

Tag manager screenshot example

Every platform has what’s called a “tag” of some kind, that lets you track this. First you set up the “tag” on your site (or pixel, or SDK, or UET, or cookie - whatever the platform calls it, they’re broadly the same thing). If you set them up correctly, you can start to re-target users most likely to convert, put more money into the exact ad that led converters to convert, or find more users almost exactly like them. 

So, these not only know how campaigns are doing, they can help you drive the results with a feedback loop. If simple brand awareness or site traffic is your goal, you might be able to do without (though you might need to know what proportion of people who clicked on your ad actually landed on your site, for example). However, for driving action, you shouldn’t get started without a tagging infrastructure.

This also applies to offline conversions: It’s very possible to track the success rate of users who viewed/clicked on your ad, and who went on to physically visit your location. Google have had the offering for a long time now, whilst Facebook currently have store visits tracking in beta-testing, available to certain advertisers. Most platforms also have ad types designed to drive offline conversions, both retail and non-retail based, so ensuring your location set-up is correct can also help optimise online activity.

Tracking is so important that we make sure all of our paid team know it like the back of their hands. This lets us set-up and fix issues quickly; build tailored tagging structures; and maximise conversions from store-visits, to leads, to product sales. 

3. Find and scale your audience

Who you serve ads to is key to success, you don’t want to be paying for ads that are unlikely to lead to a conversion. 

There are three main types of data you can use to find who’s most likely to take the action you want them to:

  • 1st Party Data: Your data e.g. Your customer lists; email addresses; site visitors etc.
  • 2nd Party Data: Data you get from someone not involved e.g. A similar company’s customer list, data you bought from a supplier.
  • 3rd Party Data: Data you get from the platform e.g. Google or Facebook’s data

We won’t go into this here, but make sure all the data you use is GDPR compliant (this is an article for another time, but we help with this too).

You probably have 1st Party Data. Use it to pop back up for people who so nearly converted, or who you think will convert again. Use it to personalise the ad. There’s a reason you get bombarded with ads when you visit a site: it works. Too much can be a turnoff though, the data will tell you the balance.

Everyone has access to 3rd party data, Google and Facebook collect vast amounts of information on people and in there, somewhere, are the people who will book your table 9 at 8pm, or who’s kitchen just blew up and they need your help making a new (less-flammable) one. It’s a matter of finding who reacts best.

By fusing the two together, you can even use the platforms’ machine learning capabilities to identify their users who are most similar to your current customers, finding a group that behaves very similarly online to the people who already buy from you. We constantly see incredible returns from this.

Then there’s getting your audience to come to you. People use Google to literally say what they’re looking for, and if you bid on the right keywords, and find the person who’s looking exactly for you but doesn’t know it yet, you’re well on the road to moving your business into the digital age.

4. Personalise your ads

I don’t mean “creepily call out someone’s name and their favourite colour in your ad” by this.

It’s great finding the right person and all, but you want to position your product in the best possible light, let them know exactly what you’re asking for, and make it as easy as possible for them to give you it. Digital is great for all of these.

  • It could be lead-generation ads that fill out the form for them: a quick two-tap process to request your brochure and give you their email.
  • If you use 3rd party data , and you know a certain audience is also interested in travelling the world, make your ad cosmopolitan and chic to the globetrotters viewing it. 

If you’re selling products or services, with the right setup, you can display the products most relevant to users, maybe if they’ve already spent 30 minutes on your site deliberating over it, or they’re very similar to those who already bought it.

We use machine learning to do all of the above, allowing you to scale up to the nth million person just as well as if you were serving the ads by hand (and probably better - Bayesian Bandits/Hidden Markov Models, on top of having cool names, are very powerful things). 

The learnings you can get from digital can let you optimise to your best performer not just on a campaign by campaign basis, but on a person by person basis, in real-time!

5. Everything can be improved

Despite being an award-winning agency, we’ve never launched the perfect campaign. Sorry. The perfect campaign doesn’t exist. Amazon didn’t get to a trillion dollars by kicking their feet up and saying “Yep, that does it, this website is the bomb”. There’s always room to improve, and there are always ways to do so. This applies to your campaigns too. 

Intelligence screenshot example

The good news is that digital shows you where you have room for improvement. Amazon made a trillion (among other things) by constantly A/B testing their site, finding the changes that led to a 5% improvement here, and a 10% improvement there. Fine margins, but they quickly stack up.

Take a look at your checkout process: Is there a little thing you can change to make it a whole lot easier? Would a new person on your website notice the little button saying “Book Now”, or will it be easier spotted and less obtrusive if you put it next to your homepage icon. Are your most popular products first to show when you enter the shop on the website?

Then at the ad level: Which of your users aren’t buying? Where are you losing them? Will they buy if you change your message slightly? Should you show a different set of products, or test out targeting a new audience? This audience works, but could you start advertising to one really like it and double your profit?

Digital is a big wide world, but just by reading this you’ve started on your way. Fortunes can be made on Google and Facebook but, Google and Facebook are equally as willing to take a poorly-spent ad budget as they are a well-spent one, so make sure you set it up to work for you. Don’t just click the out-the-box “Let’s get started” digital option, utilise data and create a set-up to suit your needs.

And good luck! It’s an exciting world out there at the moment. If you want advice or a partner to get started with, and to get your product in front of the right people at the right time, feel free to get in touch. We’ve worked with businesses of every size, and we’re happy setting up campaigns to test the waters of digital properly. We love nothing more than growing with clients and would love to hear from you.

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