Monday, January 30, 2017

Learning online advertising–Part 1

There are a lot of things in this world I have no real clue about. One of these is online advertising to grow your business via the likes of Google and Facebook ads. My plan therefore is to endeavour to make sense of these and share with you my journey. So, let the story begin.

There are lot of “so called” online advertising experts out there spruiking their wares. Others I have talked to failed to provide any really concrete or repeatable evidence of the successful way that they have used online advertising to boost their businesses. This to my mind is not a very satisfactory set of circumstances. This has therefore lead me to the reality that I need to dive deep and understand this for myself, in terms that make sense to me.

I think step one in this process is to actually define a tangible and profitable goal you are looking to achieve. Something that you can measure direct clicks from online advertising to profit, which seems to me few actually do definitively. You want to know that X amount of clicks will generate you, on average, Y amount of dollars. Otherwise you are simply wasting money in my books.

So, for the purposes of my adventures here and to make measurement easier, I am going to stick to one simple desired outcome which is:

I want to boost the number of paid subscriptions to my online Getting Started with SharePoint Online Course.  

That now gives me an endpoint to take people after they have clicked any online ad. See my ad. Like my ad. Click my ad. Pay for my product. Profit generated. Simple right?

Now the second thing I did was put a hard stop on the amount of money I was going to spend before making adjustments. The amount that I settled on was $100. Thus, each time a $100 threshold was crossed I would stop and review before continuing.

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The above shows you my first attempt using just Facebook ads. For my $100 I received about 86,000 views and about 1,100 clicks. That is a conversion rate of about 1%, which is no unexpected from what I have determined. Now the big question, how many of these 1,100 or so clicks actually converted into dollars? Answer? Zero. Yup, zero. None of the 1,100 or so people who click actually signed up and pad for the course.

Disappointing based on pure numbers but let’s have a think about this. The Facebook online ads do appear to have been doing their work by bringing people to the online course. The problem appears to be actually converting them to buying customers. In that respect one would have to conclude that issues lie with the destination not the online ad. Something about the destination site is not resonating with people. In short, the destination is not making the value statement well enough.

Of course there could be other factors such as the online ads attracting the wrong demographic and so on. However, I need to pick something to focus on and adjust so, to me, the most obvious is that the destination is failing to convert.

Thus, the next step in this learning process is to revamp the destination and make it more appealing and more focused on conversion. I’ve got some ideas on some improvements that can be made and once these are done I’ll click off the next $100 spend with Facebook online ads and see what results that produces. I’ll also spend more time doing research about this whole online advertising process and report back my findings.

However, in summary I would suggest:

1. Start with a well defined goal you want your online advertising to achieve. Something that is measurable.

2. Aim to have a clear path from your online advertising to profit. Be very clear about how a click on an online ad is going to generate you profit.

3. Place a spending limit on your advertising at which point to can stop and review the success of your campaign.

4. Understand where issues lie. Getting people to click or converting them after they have clicked. The process is not just a single component, there are many moving parts here.

Finally, remember that no matter what anyone says, simply throwing up online advertising is no automatic guarantee of success. Although many claim to be doing it successfully most aren’t (from what I see) so always base decisions on hard evidence and past performance not the emotional promises of what the future ‘may” bring with some “special” method. Science is the foundation of any art. You need to get the basics right before you gain insight.