Starting paid ad campaigns can be a big step in your business, and one that a lot of business owners stress over.
And for good reason! You’re officially putting your business out there and putting money behind it to boot. You have high hopes ads will work, but you also know there’s a chance they won’t. And then what?
There’s a lot riding on the success of your paid ads and at the same time there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to running them – so it’s only natural to be apprehensive about it. Will they work for my business? Will they be a waste of money? How do I set them up? How do I know if they’re profitable for me? If they’re not working, how do I fix them?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to all of those questions, there are a few things you can do in your business to set yourself up for success before you start embarking on paid ad campaigns.
Get clear on what you ultimately need your paid ad campaigns to do for your business
If you want to set your campaign up for success, get clear on your end goal first! Then reverse-engineer your campaign to deliver those results.
When you run a marathon (or if you’re me, when you walk a 5K), you want to know where the finish line is, right? When you know where the end goal is and how you’re going to get there, you’re much more likely to succeed.
This is where a lot of businesses initially trip up – they set out with the goal of making more sales, but don’t know who they want more sales from, what they’re offering them, or how to get them to the point of purchase.
Are your ads meant to get website visitors or email subscribers? Are you trying to win back old customers, or are you trying to attract new customers? The approach you take with your campaign will vary based on your answers to those questions.
Little tip – it doesn’t always have to be sales!
Yes, sales are great and they keep the lights on. But when you’re starting out, shooting for lower hanging fruit like traffic or email signups can be a cheaper, equally as effective way of putting your business out there and getting your feet wet with paid ads.
Know how your paid ads fit into and feed your marketing funnel
Your paid ad campaign shouldn’t operate as an island – it needs to fit into and support your other marketing efforts to make it worth it AND make it work. So think about the role it plays in your larger marketing funnel.
Want to learn more about marketing funnels? Read this post next!
Using your paid ads to get new traffic to your website and fill the top of your funnel? Then you’ll want a way to nurture those people and hopefully pull them further down the funnel and closer to the point of sale. This is where having a free opt-in offer and email list can really come in handy (more on that later).
Using your paid ads to close sales? Then you’ll want to target people who are already further down your funnel and have shown interest in what you have to offer. Maybe they’ve subscribed to your emails. Maybe they follow you on Instagram. Maybe they’ve already spent a good deal of time on your website.
The beauty of paid digital ads is you can create retargeting or custom audiences off of those types of people and target them with offers and messaging unique to where they’re at in their journey with your business. Cool, right?
Your ad campaign should be a piece in your marketing puzzle, part of a larger strategy designed to bring people into your funnel and guide them to purchase. It should not be the end-all-be-all of your marketing.
Get your website converting consistently in advance
Even if you aren’t using your ad campaign to specifically drive sales, you still want to make sure your website is already doing a good job of turning visitors into buyers, or at least into leads.
A good ecommerce site should generally aim for a 1% conversion rate. Basically what that means is for every 100 people who visit your site, you should realistically make one sale. It might vary by business, but 1% is usually a pretty good rule of thumb.
If people are swiping through your site and leaving without making a purchase or signing up for your freebie, then you’ll want to reevaluate your website and the offers you’re promoting on it before investing in paid ads.
No amount of money spent in paid ads can fix a low-converting website. If you’re investing in ads that send people to a website they’re not buying from, you’re basically pouring water into a leaky bucket.
When that happens people are more likely to blame the ads for the poor performance, but in most cases it’s actually your website.
Here are a few things to ask yourself when this happens:
- Are you communicating the value of your offer to perspective buyers?
- Are you making it easy for them to get? Spend some time looking at how people journey through your site. How many clicks do they need to take to actually purchase something? You ideally want to make it as few clicks as possible.
- Are there questions they have about your product or your policies that your website isn’t answering?
- Is your website trustworthy? Does it look reputable, professional, and polished? You want people to feel comfortable about their purchase, and that starts with your site design.
A great ad campaign can help you get more eyeballs on your business and traffic to your website, but it won’t mean a whole lot if people are coming to your website and not buying anything!
Have an email list set up and ready to capture new leads
Email marketing is still one of the best ways to build a relationship with your audience and get them interested in what you have to offer.
If one out of every 100 people who land on your site make a purchase, that’s awesome. But there’s also 99 people who left without purchasing anything. If you could convince 7 or 8 of them to give you their email address so you can continue showing up to them and potentially encourage them to make a purchase later, doesn’t that seem worth it?
So if you want to get more bang for your buck from your paid ads investment, sign up for an email marketing service, create some can’t miss opt-in offers or lead magnets, and start collecting email addresses.
People might not be ready to purchase from you just yet, but they’ll be more likely to give you their email address for the right opt-in offer. Then with a good automated email sequence, you can start nurturing that relationship and eventually sell to them via email.
You can also often use paid ads specifically to collect leads and create custom audiences off of them that you can target with other marketing efforts later.
Install all the appropriate tracking (Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Hotjar)
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when it comes to paid ads is not having proper tracking in place before they start.
If you’re not tracking things like website visits, email sign-ups, purchases, and other important data points, then you’ll have a harder time being able to tell whether or not your ad campaign is successful.
You’ll also have no way of knowing what’s working and what’s not, which will make it difficult to adjust your paid ads campaign accordingly.
So there are a few free data and analytics tools we recommend installing on your site prior to running ads. (Need help adding them to your site? Just reach out and we’ll gladly help!)
This a free tool provided by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It can show you how many people have visited your site, where they came from, where they go on your site, and even how long they stay there and browse.
This is a piece of code that you install on your website that allows Facebook to track people who go from their platform to your website. It can tell Facebook whether or not people who click on your ads go on to purchase anything so it can focus on finding more people like them. It can also help you create custom audiences of people who have interacted with your website.
This is an app that can give you even more data points on how people are interacting with your website and what they’re doing once they get there. You might find some great tips by looking at heatmaps of your site and seeing where people are clicking – allowing you to know what kind of ads your audience is responding to most.
Set these up before you start running paid ads – trust us, you’ll be glad you did!
Make sure your website is optimized for mobile
In 2021, an estimated 70% of all web traffic came from mobile devices and a whopping 95% of all active Facebook traffic came from mobile devices. That is huge!
Now more than ever, it is so important for your website to be mobile-friendly so when people land on your site, they can easily find what they’re looking for and make a purchase. You don’t want to miss out on extra conversions just because your website isn’t optimized for mobile.
Before you start driving more traffic to your site with paid ads, make sure it’s easy for people to interact with from any device. If people land on your site and can’t easily navigate it on their phone, they might bounce. Which means the money you just spent to get them there in the first place was a waste.
Most website platforms, like Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace, come pre-equipped for optimizing your site for mobile. If you use WordPress, there are mobile-friendly themes you can use as well (we like Divi from Elegant Themes).
And if you’re really lost? Tap into a web designer. It’ll be an investment, but an investment well-spent.
Get serious about paid ads
Our final and most important tip – If you’re going to run paid ad campaigns, then get serious about paid ads! Don’t just throw a few bucks behind a boosted post on Facebook and expect to gain a lot of traction.
Boosted posts sound great because they’re easy to execute, but if you’re really looking to see some returns on your investment, then you need to start creating well-thought out and strategic paid ad campaigns.
This means doing your research, targeting the right people, and testing different things until you find what works for you. If you’re not sure where to start, invest in a paid ads course or find yourself a marketing strategist or coach (like us!) to help you get started.
What has your experience with paid ads campaigns been like? Have you tried them before and learned from them? Are you too nervous to even attempt them yet? Tell us in the comments!