Bowling for Business: Click it Good

Giving a card
Click it Good: A guide to Internet Advertising

This column first appeared on on October 19, 2009

How to use pay per click, banner ads and email marketing to sell widgets

Several people have asked me if the ads that appear in orange boxes throughout my weekly ROTW columns have anything to do with my business and/or blogs.

The simple answer is, “No!”

The ads you see weaving in and out of my text are placed there by affiliate advertisers who want to capitalize on traffic to sell their products and services.

I take particular offense to the ad that so often pops up in my pieces, that says, “Lose embarrassing belly fat now.” Since advertisers generally try to place their online ads in places that make sense, I wonder if they checked out my head shot and figured, naturally, the best advertising marriage is weight loss.

Whatever their reasons for associating my writing with an intense desire to lose weight, promoters advertise on websites, search engines and blogs because they know that, despite all of the buzz about free advertising with social networking, in the final analysis, it still makes sense to ante up for business leads.

But what exactly is the payoff and how much do you have to invest in order to secure actual paying customers? The answer is as individual as your business budget. Before we get into specifics about costs and strategies, let’s discuss the three most popular forms of paid electronic advertising.

1. Pay Per Click

Advertisers pay their host only when words and word combinations they successfully bid for, are clicked. Internet searches produce two very different types of results:

Natural or organic results are determined by closely guarded algorithms that match Internet content with search terms.

Sponsored search engine services like Google Ad Words or Yahoo Search Marketing are results that advertisers pay for. These are included in the top two or three search results, as well as to the right of the search screen, inside a light pink box, or noted as “sponsored links.”

2. Display Advertising

This type of advertising is paid per click, per impression or per term. Display ads typically contain text, logos, photographs or other images, maps, and similar items, which appear on the same page as, or on the page adjacent to, general editorial content.

The text boxes that appear inside my columns fall into this category as does the ad at the top of the masthead. Display ads allow sponsors to effectively target their audience based on publication and website user-profiles.

Banner advertisers efficiently track and measure which websites, blogs or publications result in the highest number of direct responses, known as “click-through-rates.”

Affiliate marketers gain Internet real estate by offering click-through revenue to blog authors and webmasters. Successful Internet writers earn money by allowing affiliate advertising to run on their sites.

One of the reasons we advertise our agency on is because they charge by the month, which is easy on the budget, instead of by-impression, which is a bit unpredictable.

3. Email Marketing

Despite being considered a bit passé in web 2.0, emails remain popular for targeting prospective customers.

At the risk of being blocked as “spammers,” email marketers continue to advertise using this method because it is inexpensive and targeted. Emailing to people who have voluntarily surrendered their email addresses assumes at least a passing interest in whatever product or service an advertiser wishes to promote.

So which method should you pursue? I suggest you choose a strategy based on which budget, below, reflects the amount you can afford to spend on advertising. Remember, before you decide, that most experts agree you should invest at least 4-8 percent of your previous year’s gross sales on marketing.

Tight (I can’t even afford to pay attention.)

When funds are scarce, the bottom line is that you have to advertise. Don’t wait until you no longer have a business to promote. Email marketing is probably your best bet.

  • Gather business cards you collect at chamber mixers and networking events and enter email addresses into your contact list.
  • Create a brief, straight-forward email, with an attention-grabbing subject line, that does not promote your product or service so much as it provides an answer to your end-users point of pain. Focus on what your customers need to hear, instead of on what you want to say.
  • Give your recipients a reason to reply. The best way to do this is to offer a discount or giveaway.
  • Send the emails.
  • Measure your results.
  • If your campaign didn’t work, change it up. Don’t give up until you find the secret sauce.

Limited (I have a few bucks to spend. But I have to be careful.)

  • Find a website whose users match the profile of your customer-base and which provides banner advertising payable by term instead of by impression.
  • Hire someone to design an ad that will produce a direct-response.
  • Commit to the strategy for at least three months.
  • Measure your results.
  • If your ad doesn’t bring in revenue, alter one element of the ad, or its location, at a time.
  • Use the revenue generated from your campaign to pursue a second form of Internet advertising.

The Sky’s the Limit (Money is no object. And, yes, believe it or not, some business owners fall into this category, even in this economy).

Experts agree that people need five touches with your organization or product before they will make the move from prospect to client. Since your advertising budget affords you the luxury to pursue all five at once, results will be swift. I suggest the following:

  • Hire someone to develop an effective ad campaign.
  • Buy associated ad words on Google or Yahoo.
  • Send an email blast to introduce the campaign.
  • Invest in Pay per Click display ads.
  • Run banner ads on high-trafficked websites and blogs.
  • Watch the money roll in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s