6 questions to ask before you say digital advertising doesn't work

by Laurie Heller

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How many times have you heard any of these statements? Paid search doesn't work. Facebook sucks. LinkedIn is too expensive. Content syndication delivers shite leads. Media content partnerships are too costly and are a waste of time. Influencers just aren't worth it. We hear all of the above and more from all kinds of companies and industries.

But here’s the thing: we hate definitive statements. Instead, we suggest asking yourself these 5 questions before uttering these words.

1. Who is your target audience?

Have you figured out your buyer personas and where they actually spend their time? This should be first and foremost. Just because a channel worked well for a prior client doesn't mean your results will be the same. People and industries and disciplines are different. No one channel works the same way for everyone.

2. What's the targeting strategy?

If "set it and forget it" is your go-to, please stop reading here. That. Doesn't. Work. You have to be relentless (no, really) and figure out what's working and what's not. It’s a full time job when you have enough media running. The worst offenders are companies who choose to hire a single marketing person to do e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g or outsource their media spend to agencies with no one in the driver’s seat to ask the right questions. No “marketing ninja" can do it all. And companies can't expect miracles. Help a marketer out and give them some external resources. What you put in is what you’ll get back.

3. What is your content/creative?

This ranks pretty high up on our list of pet peeves. Once upon a time I worked at a massive tech company who banned content syndication. But we had an epic report done in partnership with a high-profile magazine that contained data and trends not accessible to the masses. We snuck in a very small content syndication test that catered to our exact persona (about 7% of our total media spend) and guess what? Content syndication delivered the best results. Even more shocking, it even outperformed the publisher's own site promotion. We've seen this at other companies as well. Word to the wise: when you negotiate content partnerships, make sure you own the content so you have the freedom to use it elsewhere.

4. What's your experience post-click?

Sending folks to a website where they choose their own path is like dropping someone off at a massive train station in a new city. If you don't give them explicit instructions or guidance, they’ll get frustrated, stressed and might even leave or hop in a taxi to get where they need to be faster. In the world of digital, competitors are your taxi. Think about your prospect’s digital experience from point A to B.

5. What are you measuring?

Our favorite mishaps are: quantity of leads, ad clicks, cost per leads (CPL), email open rates and registrations. We’ve written about this before, but vanity metrics don't really matter. QUALITY over quantity matters. We'd much prefer at $200 CPL for 20 highly qualified leads than a CPL of $50 for 500 leads that don't make any sense or don't carry any influence or decision-making power.

5. How long has it been running?

Running a paid media test for one month usually won't result in a magic bullet. Being able to fine tune 1-5 is a critical piece of the puzzle. You need to watch what happens, make tweaks to the channels,  targeting,  messaging, and yes creative, before you start seeing results.

Lastly, as a universal rule, make sure value proposition clear and easy to understand.This happens alllll the time. Be brave and get that buzzword bingo lingo off your page and especially out of your hero space, stat. You have about 10 seconds to keep someone on your site and prevent them from bouncing. You should be able to explain QUICKLY who exactly your offering is for, the pain point it solves and your unique differentiator. Not easy to do in 10-15 second, but trust us, it’s possible.

PS: we can help, send us a note here


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