You can’t expect to earn anything if you don’t do any promotion.
Creating a successful website always entails 80% promotion and 20% content creation. It’s the Pareto Principle - put 80% of your efforts in the activities that will yield the most results.
One of the easiest ways to promote an eCommerce website is through paid marketing. This goes by many names. Sometimes, it is called Search Engine Marketing or SEM. Others call it per-per-click marketing or PPC. But whatever name it is called, it simply pertains to the process of paying money for advertisements in a particular website or platform with the goal of driving traffic to the website promoted.
Paid advertising should not be taken lightly though. It has been really effective for multiple online businesses that it is able to contribute as much as 85 Billion Dollars to the National GDP of the United States.
Now that is a lot of money.
This goes to show that paid advertising continues to be effective for online businesses and it is certainly a form of marketing that is worth tapping into.
But here’s the thing.
Paid advertising is called as such for a reason - this means that you need money in order to advertise.
I have seen so many marketers enter the paid marketing scene thinking that they can just double their money in a short amount of time only to be devastated when their ads hardly convert.
Paid marketing is not just about putting money in and getting more money out. If it was that easy then many business owners should have been millionaires already.
A word of warning though.
Paid advertising is quite the same as gambling. If you are new to it, you may end up losing money in the process.
So you have to be careful. Be sure to learn the ropes before you invest anything. This will save you from the headache that will hit you when you lose money from a bad paid advertising strategy.
Fortunately, this is the topic that I will cover in this part of the guide. I will take you on a tour of the basic advertising concepts, terms and processes along with the exact steps that you need to take in order to advertise your eCommerce website in its first few months.
For this purpose, I have a 3-Step Approach.
Here are the steps that I will be discussing in this part of the guide.
STEP 1: Define Your Target Persona
STEP 2: Choose Your Marketing Platform
STEP 3: Track Your Conversions
This is different from other guides that simply lists the different ways you can advertise. If you will take the time to read this guide from start to finish, you’ll find that it is an easy-to-follow step-by-step action plan that you can do by yourself or outsource to an assistant. I tried my best to make this part of the guide as straightforward as possible.
Let’s get started.
It is impossible to create targeted ads if you don't know who you are targeting. This is where a persona comes. You need to know more than the basic characteristics of your target market. You also need to know their persona.
Today, I will teach you how to find out more about your target market and create a target persona along the way.
Are you ready? Here we go.
Before we can proceed, we need to know what a persona is.
A persona is an imagined person who represents your target market. This is the embodiment of the very person you are targeting. It includes demographic characteristics such as the person's age, sex and location. It also includes their hobbies along with their goals, desires and feelings.
On the surface, a persona looks like a person's ID. It contains basic information such as a person's name, address, contact information and basic demographic characteristics.
But a persona can act like an extended biography. It should also include a story behind the personality of the person. This should include his greatest goals in life along with his frustrations.
Creating a persona is easy. First, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer.
The best way is to start with the problem that your website can solve. Think about what types of problems your products solve and work from there.
Once you have written the problem down, it is time to think about your customer's ideal situation when it comes to solving that problem. Think about your prospect's goals and dreams.
From here, you can make the solution as descriptive as possible. Answer these questions:
- How did the prospect solve their problem?
- What product did they use?
- How did they feel upon using the product?
- What would make their experience better?
This exercise can also help you tweak your website for a better user experience.
Once you have these down, you can now think about filler demographic characteristics.
- What age would your customer be?
- Is it a man or a woman?
- What age will he or she be?
- Where does he or she live?
Only when you have defined the problem can you answer these questions. It is easier to come up with filler characteristics when you are finished defining the problem.
Once you have answered these questions, it is time to construct your target persona.
You can do this by creating a person’s identity in a document.
In here, you can write the person’s demographic characteristics, their problems and their dreams.
Some marketers even go another mile by including a name, a picture and a background story.
Why do they do this?
They do it so that the persona will seem more real. If the target persona is real, it represents the target market better.
With your target person in mind, it is now easier to find a marketing platform. You now have an idea on the basic characteristics of your target market. It should now be easier to find the marketing platform that they mostly hang out.
But choosing your marketing platform should not solely depend on the presence of your target persona. You should also think about other factors as well.
Here are some factors that I consider when choosing a marketing platform.
There are different platforms for paid advertising. It is not just about PPC or pay-per-click. Banner display advertising can also be considered as paid advertising and it has nothing to do with any advertising network.
In this section, we'll explore the different types of advertising platforms available.
What is the first thing that entered your mind when you think about paid advertising? There is a chance that Adwords may have crossed your mind.
I don't blame you.
Adwords has been here since the dawn of Google's popularity and it continues to serve ads not just on the search engine results but also in Adsense websites.
Search engine marketing is effective if you don't have the time to do SEO. By just bidding a higher amount than the next man, you'll instantly put your website on the front page of the search engines. Since search engines get billions of searches per day, that is a huge number to expose your website to.
See those ads on top or at the side of blogs?
Those are ads.
Bloggers make money from their blogs with these.
But they can only do this if they have targeted traffic - visitors who are interested in a particular topic.
Display advertising is a great way to get your website in front of the nose of your target market without being pushy. You just qualify the website or blog beforehand and they will post an ad for you as long as you pay them their desired fee.
As you may have noticed, websites like Facebook and Twitter are already getting tons of traffic.
The best part is that they are willing to share this traffic with their advertisers. But first, a good look at the popular social media websites is essential.
Here is a brief description of each social network.
Facebook is the most popular social network online. With over 1 Billion users, it the perfect hangout for online surfers. The characteristics of users are mostly bored. They love to like random but interesting stuff.
Twitter has somehow evolved to become a place for short updates - whether informational or emotional. It has a traffic of 560 million and it is used mostly to reach out to people on a personal level. With the recent implementation of images, it is slowly evolving to be like Instagram as well.
G+ is for people who are tired of the normal social network. These people love sharing news or articles that piques their curiosity. With a userbase of 400 million, it is not lagging far behind from Twitter.
LinkedIn is a website made for professionals. It has been used by businesses and employees to find matches for employment and other needs. It has a userbase of 240 million and has highly targeted business-related traffic.
Instagram is a social network for image updates. They recently implemented image carousel and live videos and they continue to be well loved by 50 million users all over the world. Most creatives are on Instagram for it is image-oriented.
Pinterest is also a social network for creatives. With 7 million users, people use this as a tool to find image inspirations. It is the best place for anything related to fashion, home, photography and the likes.
Now that you have read the descriptions, what social network is the best for your eCommerce website? Where is your target persona ‘hanging out’? A good rule of thumb is to go where they are.
Paid advertising processes can vary from one social network to another. It may be best to try a network and see its conversion before you attempt to continue promoting in that network.
You’ll learn more about tracking conversions later.
Another form of advertising that is recently becoming more popular is video advertising. This can be done in three ways.
See those ads at the bottom of videos on Youtube? That is a Video Ad Popup. These ads usually have a close button in them.
In my opinion, video ad popups are not very effective. Usually the user is already very engaged with the video that they hardly notice the ad.
A video intermission may be a better option.
Ever since YouTube implemented ads on its platform, you’ll see that videos have this yellow trigger in the progress bar.
These yellow triggers are ads and they may appear multiple times in a video when it is long.
Video intermissions are highly effective forms of advertising. This is because it instantly exposes the viewer to the ad whether they like it or not.
Although it is not very effective when it comes to driving conversions. It is still quite effective for branding and viral campaigns.
Video views can come from PPV or pay-per-view networks or platforms that allows videos.
I have seen this being implemented in an app called Episode. For every chapter a user reads, an ad pops up. The ad lasts for 60 seconds.
This is also quite effective when it comes to branding and viral campaigns.
A cheaper way to advertise is through advertising networks. These are websites where you can sign up and get your website served on member websites for a smaller fee.
A word of warning.
Be sure to track the reputation of these websites before you attempt to buy. More websites is not always better. The traffic has to be relevant or you'll hardly get conversions from these.
A platform that is not well explored are cost-per-action advertising networks. These are networks where the advertiser can pay a publisher when the traffic fulfills a particular action - a sign-up, a filled form, etc. These networks can be effective if harnessed well.
With all the platforms available, it is important to learn how to choose the best one. You can use the other factors in this section to help you.
Let’s start with reputation.
You see, paid advertising platforms is plagued with scammers. While there are reliable platforms like Google PPC and Facebook ads, there are also advertising networks that can serve your ads at a cheaper rate but will not give you sales.
When it comes to advertising platforms, cheaper is not better. You also need to look at the reputation as well. Some of these networks serve your ads in link farms or just hijack clicks to get you untargeted traffic. These traffic are a waste of your money and time. They will hardly convert that you are better off not advertising to begin with.
What's the best way to know if the website will work? Well, there is really no other way than to test it. While it helps to consult other eCommerce website owners to see what worked for them. Your products may still be too different from the person you asked. It is better to target and see your conversions and tweak your campaign from there.
First, you should familiarize yourself with the different types of targeting available.
Targeting is simply the process of creating an ad for a particular type of audience. In this process, it is important that you are highly familiar with your target market. You should already have an idea of the persona of your potential customer. This will help you as you determine the targeting that is most suited to your campaign.
The easiest way to target your customer is by selecting the location. This is called geo targeting. And this does not only pertain to the country. You can also target a state, city or particular locale.
You may be familiar with this if you have already advertised on Facebook. If you have tried it, you'll see the option where Facebook allows you to choose keywords based on the interest of your target market. This is Interest Targeting.
Websites are also quite smart. They can alter their interaction with the customer based on past actions that the customer has done. This is called behavioral targeting - it is where ads or the website is shown to people who have done a particular action. This can happen when they added a particular product to their cart or they have recently viewed an item in an eCommerce website.
This is a great way to solve the problem of cart abandonment.
This is a relatively new way of targeting where it is done by looking at your existing target market and targeting your ads at them. You can do this by either following up on a product that they are interested in buying. This is quite similar to Behavioral Targeting only that the ad may appear on another website and it will target you because you have already expressed an interest in that particular product.
Once you have chosen your targeting, it is time to check if your ad network have these options. You'll find that some ads may not have certain targeting options. For this, you may need to do your research so that you can find the right network.
Some of the terms that you will encounter when you visit an advertising network are CPM, PPC, CPC and the likes. You may be wondering what these acronyms mean. Don’t worry. I got you covered.
Here is a brief discussion of the common types of advertising.
CPM stands for cost-per-mille which literally translates to cost per 1,000 impressions. This term is quite common in display advertising where your ad is paid based on how many times a page is loaded. An impression is simply a measure on the time that your ad is displayed. It is therefore a cost that counts views instead of clicks.
CPM advertising is quite common in big websites like the Huffington Post and TechCrunch. However, these websites have a really large userbase that generating 1,000 impressions can be done from a few minutes to a few hours. if you have chosen the website or advertising network well, this can funnel some valuable traffic to your website. But that doesn't mean that people will click on your ad.
I think that CPM advertising is better suited for visual campaigns. This way, it doesn't matter whether the prospect click or doesn't click on the ads. What matters is that it is displayed.
NOTE: Always track your CPM campaigns for conversions. It is useless to continue a CPM campaign if you are hardly breaking even.
A good example of CPM ads are the ads in the Warriorforum.
See the ads on top? These are paid for every 1,000 impressions.
If CPM offers too low of a conversion rate for your campaign, you can choose CPC advertising instead.
CPC stands for cost-per-click. This means that you (the advertiser) only pays the publisher when your ad gets clicks. For this type of ad, the CTR or click-through rate is the most important factor. A CTR is a percentage of clicks that a website gets out of all the people that visited it.
However, it is important to remember that clicks are not the same as conversions. Just because an ad has a high click-through rate doesn't mean that it is profitable. You still have to track sales.
CPC is quite common in the ads that you see in search engines.
See the Google ads on top? These ads are paid with each click.
The same is true in Bing.
The key is to always track the conversion. Clicks are not the end-all and be-all of paid advertising.
Video advertising is slowly increasing as well. For this, we have CPV or Cost-per-View. Sometimes, this is also called as PPV or pay-per-view and it simply pertains to the type of advertising where the publisher gets paid for every video view.
This is effective if you want to engage your target market. Videos after all are very engaging. This makes CPV advertising a perfect avenue for brand awareness and promotion.
However, this also doesn't automatically translate to conversion. It is always better to track conversions so that you can see if a campaign is effective.
One of the most popular CPV network is MediaTraffic.
CPA stands for Cost-per-Action. This is quite common in CPA ad networks where publishers are paid for every action made - filled up a form, downloaded an app, filled up a survey, etc.
CPA is by far the best form of paid advertising because it gets the viewer engaged. However, performance can be low if you don't know how to reach the right target market.
CPA marketing is quite popular for marketers. There are multiple networks that provide these such as MaxBounty and ClickBooth.
Now that the mobile industry is booming, there is also a new form of paid advertising called CPI or Cost-per-Install. This is where the publisher is paid for every successful app installation that he generates.
This is very effective in getting more people into your app. But the quality of the traffic may not be that great. People who have downloaded the app may not be as committed after all.
CPI is very interesting because it can be highly profitable if used well.
In fact, I think that it is very profitable for eCommerce website owners with ads or affiliate programs to use this.
Here are some of the most popular PPI Networks:
Now that you are familiar with the different forms of advertising, it is time to explore your marketing platform to see the formats available. From here, you should assess whether these formats are effective in reaching your target persona.
Also, don’t forget to check your budget. You can only advertise on a platform if you have enough money to pay for the ads.
This is the reason why there are people complaining that they are losing money with PPC. They may have launched their ads without considering the consequences. It is a good habit to have an estimate of how much you plan to spend and then stop an ad when it is no longer bearing fruit.
For websites with display advertising options, it doesn’t hurt to look at the Advertise page.
This will usually have the basic ad platforms available along with the prices.
And if they don’t have it, you can always email them. Some popular websites don’t have prices in their Advertise page. It may be best to ask instead.
NOTE: Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best option before investing on advertising. For some niches, it may take some trial and error (which may mean that you may lose some money along the way) but that is okay. Once you find the right advertising platform, you can just watch money convert and all you need to do is to rinse and repeat.
Your advertising campaign is only as good as its conversion.
When a traffic buys your product or service from your website. That is considered a conversion. This means that the visitor is not just a website hit. It is a real live person who is willing to spend money on your products and services.
ECommerce website owners should ideally aim for higher conversions. Traffic may look good. But at the end of the day, conversions bring the money.
You need a tool to track conversion. A paid tool is recommended.
In the market, the most popular tool for tracking paid advertising efforts is KissMetrics.
I love KissMetrics because it is compatible with all the common advertising platforms: Google Adwords, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon. You can also use it if you have banner ads on a particular network.
But more than conversions, KissMetrics also add another factor - user behavior. They look at where the user came from. Did they come from paid search? Did they add products to the cart? Did they make a purchase? Then, you can plug in different advertising platforms and see what works best for you in an instant.
This tool does more than just see if the traffic is converting into sales. It also helps you understand your potential customer.
You can instantly tweak your online store to suit your customer's experience. This will mean more sales and more loyal customers in the long run.
There are three steps to successful paid advertising for any eCommerce website. These are:
STEP 1: Define Your Target Persona
- This helps you uncover the basic characteristics of your target market
STEP 2: Choose Your Marketing Platform
- This will help you choose the best marketing platform for your campaign
STEP 3: Track Your Conversions
- This will help you track your sales (aka conversions) so that you can evaluate if the campaign is a success or not.
These steps build on one another. Step 1 helps you to know your target market so that you can choose your marketing platform. With the right marketing platform, you can also start tracking conversions to see if your campaigns are successful or not.
In the end, it all boils down to tracking. Paid advertising is the ammo but you cannot hit the target if you don’t track it. Don’t go shooting ammunitions without knowing what you are up against.
The rule of paid advertising is simple. Pay, Post, Tweak and Try Again.
It may seem hard at the beginning. There are times when you may feel that the tweaking never ends. Don’t worry. Once the ball is rolling, it is an easy way to make money again and again.
So how is your experience with the guide so far? Don’t be afraid to ask questions.