3 Reasons Your Paid Ads May Not Be Seeing Success

Developing paid advertisements can start off looking like a foreign language and end up looking like your college English class; you feel like you should understand the subject but just can’t get the grades in. There was a point where it was all gibberish to us as well. Through the years we have taken the time to understand which paid ads work and what doesn’t in the outdoor industry. Here are 3 reasons your paid advertisements may not be seeing the success you expected.

Image of New York City Skyline filled with Paid Advertisements
Image of New York City Skyline filled with paid advertisements

Content

Content may not seem like a high ticket item for you on a paid ad campaign. Your landing page has very little words and is “designed to convert” and your ad copy is only a few words total. Surely that can’t be the problem, right? Well, actually, quite the opposite. Content can be the lifeblood of a proper campaign or the downfall of an underproductive one.

Clickability has to be a 21st century word if we’ve ever read one, but it means a lot to your paid media strategy and shouldn’t be treated as industry jargon. Creating clickable ads is what leads to success overall, but what does clickability really mean? Clickability is the desire as a user to click on your ad and learn a little more about what you’re selling.

This all falls down to the content that the user is displayed. And the engagement they may have with it. The first step we usually carry out is a general look at what other market movers are doing. Who has the top of page bid? How are their ads setup? Do we need to make adjustments so that it fits our strategy? These are questions you will soon answer as you progress through the campaign configuration and beyond.

Paid ad content aren’t just about the words. There are various types of ad content such as video ads or display ads for retargeting. Each type of ad has its own set of customizable features and potential headaches. Finding the right partner to build a productive strategy for paid ads keeps your brand and business in front of eyes and on the minds of your potential users.

Targeting

Targeting the right people is the bread and butter of a productive paid media campaign. If you can drill down the types of customers based on buyer personas your paid ads will see success. There are many options when it comes to refining your target audience:

  • Demographics
  • Keywords
  • Content
  • Placement
  • Intent
  • Similar Audiences
  • Retargeting

However, each of the options above comes with it’s own unique problems. Establishing proper targets can be tricky. You don’t want to be too refined in your targeting because you’ll alienate a large population of your customers. But at the same time you don’t want to be too broad either. This balance requires constant monitoring and measurement to ensure the proper strategy is deployed.

Budget & Bidding

Budgeting the right amount and more importantly bidding the right amount can be the determining factor in the success of your paid media campaign. If you are not bidding optimally, you could be throwing money down the drain. Handing valuable leads over to your competition who has an automated custom bidding & budget strategy.

Once your content and targeting is honed in, it is time to put some focus on optimizing your campaign(s). Things like campaign budget, CPC vs. conversion bids and ad quality score are important metrics to track. We sometimes factor in time of day, day of the week, and part of the month into our bidding strategies too.

Therefore, taking a hard look at tweaking, testing, and retesting some settings in your bidding strategy, whether it be Google, Facebook or Instagram can help you see success much more quickly. If you are stepping back to take a look at lacking performance, it may be time to switch to a manual route and drill down exactly what you are looking for. Such as acquisition costs and customer lifetime value.

If you are paying $300 for 300 clicks but they are not turning into customers, I’m sure you would be much more willing to pay $300 for 20 clicks that ALL turned into customers.

As you can see, there is a considerable amount that goes into a paid media campaign and we’ve only covered the top 3! Pair this list with our guide to creating an effective call to action, and you’ve got yourself a fine-tuned paid media campaign.

LEARN ABOUT PAID MEDIA

Social Media Is Not Free

Businesses view social outreach as a revolutionary tool that allows them to expand their marketing efforts. To reach your audiences at no cost posting to the social sphere is a quick solution. However, social media channels are now inundated with content of varying quality. Making it nearly impossible to tell what is legitimate and what is not.

The value of social media used to be found in its incredible accessibility and widespread reach for free consumption. Now the value lies in meticulously designed paid ads.

Our goal here is not to convince you that organic social media is dead or useless. Far from it. Companies should circulate content organically on social media channels because it offers a direct connection to customers. While also helping you achieve your marketing campaign goals. But it’s time to face the music: for social media content distribution to be truly effective, it demands the investment.

Facebook for Business

Did you know Facebook is used by more than 1.6 billion people every day? For marketers with a B2C focus paid ads are the best option for selling merchandise.

First determine who your audiences are, where these audiences are, and what you want to say to them. With this framework, decide which strategies will best reach your target audiences.

Image of the Facebook Ad Budget & Scheduler Tool
Image of the Facebook Ad Budget & Scheduler Tool

Reach your target audience with an ad created from a post on your company page. Then strategize how you want your post to be consumed across your digital medium. You have the option to position an ad directly in the News Feed, on the sidebar or on the popular platform, Instagram. You can also customize each ad’s target audience based on characteristics. Such as location, interests, online behaviors, and even offline behaviors.

Facebook ads are easily actionable as they allow for purchases to happen directly on Facebook. You no longer need a fancy digital storefront to showcase your products.

The Ads Reporting feature allows you to manage each campaign and measure audience engagement, offering real-time performance metrics.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn has over 260 million monthly people engaged on its site and continues to grow. As the go-to networking platform for professionals all over the world, LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for marketers to reach a wider audience. LinkedIn provides you with three methods for reaching your audience via paid ads: boosted posts, sponsored InMail and pay-per-click text ads.

It’s common knowledge that boosted posts are best for supporting general awareness goals. Allowing you to feature one of your selected posts in the target audience news feeds’. For more conversion-based campaigns, consider sending sponsored InMail. This approach allows you to send personalized messages with prominent call-to-actions to your targeted audience.  

Image example of a LinkedIn Sponsored Ad

LinkedIn offers a pay-per-click ad placed either in the sidebar or news feed of users’ home pages. For instance, LinkedIn is geared towards reaching business professionals. The platform is much more personalized. Allowing you to filter by job title, industry, company size, and membership within specific LinkedIn Groups.

Similar to Facebook, measure the value of your self-service sponsored content within the Campaign Manager tool. Although a bit more costly than Facebook, LinkedIn’s sponsored content is still affordable, allowing you to set a maximum budget at a minimum of $10 daily per campaign.

Are You Prepared For 2020?

Let’s face it, but social media’s paid ads are still the cheapest way to reach the best audience possible. Contact Sage Lion Media to learn more about how to take advantage of our paid media strategies and how that the cost is worth it in the end.

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Mapping Content to the Buyer’s Journey

As potential customers consider a purchase or service, they likely research the various market options. They’ll make an informed decision based on quality, price and other factors. In most circumstances, they don’t make a spur-of-the-moment decision without evaluation. Instead, a potential buyer – regardless of product – goes through something called the buyer’s journey.

This consists of different steps prior to making a purchase. These steps could include visiting your website, reading your blog, subscribing to your email list and speaking to a salesperson.

Using content marketing to deliver specific content to potential buyers based their inbound marketing journey can be a valuable tool for businesses. But not understanding your potential customers and delivering content that doesn’t relate to them could result in losing a sale.

Whether you do the writing yourself or outsource the job, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Think about their potential pain points and deliver some potential solutions.

Avoid complex or sales language and try to connect with the audience. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, inbound marketing is largely about P2P: person-to-person.

Before you start writing, let’s break down the buyer’s journey and how to approach the content development process.

Stages of the Buyer’s Journey

The Buyer’s Journey can be broken down into three stages: Awareness, Evaluation and Intent. Each stage requires a specific type of content to help move the customer to the next stage.

During the awareness stage, potential customers are seeking answers to a problem. They’re looking for resources, education and data to help with the solution. Next, in the evaluation stage, potential customers examine whether or not a particular product or service is right for them. And finally, during the Purchase stage, they take steps toward becoming a customer.

The Buyer's Journey Inbound Stages
Stages of a Buyer’s Journey

Based on your particular business or industry, your targets may require more engagement. This is particularly true for companies whose products require significant investment and tend to have a longer sales cycles.

But what content should you produce for each stage and what should it look like? Let’s take a closer look.

Mapping Content for the Awareness Stage

Developing content for potential customers in the awareness stage should focus on education. This content could include blog posts, social media posts and ebooks. The content you develop shouldn’t necessarily speak to brand-specific benefits, but instead introduce why a product or service like yours could offer a solution. The payoff is readers who find your content useful could move down the buyer’s journey to the next stage.

As a writer, strive to ensure the awareness stage content is accessible. In fact, the blog posts you write for in the awareness stage could introduce buyer’s to a problem they don’t even know they have. It’s easy to get caught up in technical language, especially in the outdoor space, but try as much as you can to generate content that connects with readers on a personal level. Once you convert the user, using a form, they can now move into the next stage of their journey. 

Mapping Content for the Evaluation Stage

If you’ve successfully moved a potential customer to the evaluation stage, it means your awareness content was suitably informative and captured the reader’s attention. You’ve now begun to accomplish the steps of what we call: Building A Story for your brand.

During the evaluation stage, you can discuss what potential solutions exist for the customer’s problem, and carefully start to introduce why your particular product or service offers the right solution for a potential customer. Now is a great opportunity to emphasize your expertise in your industry with content like expert guides, webinars and whitepapers.

It can be beneficial for writers to bring in subject-matter experts at every stage of the content development process but especially during the evaluation stage. The content delivered here can gain value from direct involvement from those closest to the subject. It can make your job as a writer much easier.

Mapping Content for the Intent Stage

The purchase stage is the time to clearly outline and offer the benefits of your product or service. You’ve likely seen multiple offers online for demos and trials but without the previous two stages, these offers don’t provide much value. However, if you’ve successfully educated the potential customers in the other stages, these offers are more likely to result in a sale.

In addition to trials and demos, other potential forms of content include case studies and product descriptions. Case studies can provide particular value, proving your solution in a real-life scenario.

When writing case studies, it can be easy to get caught up in the numbers. While showing how revenue increased by X% after implementing a certain solution is important, try to tell the story of how efficiencies were created or how an organization can give more time to their customers or their employees by implementing it.

While content can offer tremendous value to your business, it needs to be delivered as part of a comprehensive inbound and content marketing strategy. If you’d like to learn more about how the right content for the right person, at the right time can help your business, we’re here to help.

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Basting Your Content

We have discussed content strategies and the need for regular optimized content quite a bit lately. So what better time to include some festive comparisons as we approach the holiday season. For the purposes of this blog, let’s consider your content as a turkey. 

When you are cooking a turkey, you can set it in the oven at 375 for a few hours. You’ll get something out the other end that is edible, but certainly not as good as it can be. This is where the time and attention come into play if you’d like to produce something truly incredible on turkey day.

Sure you can form fit a package of 10 blogs posted about monthly for the foreseeable future, but is the product on the other end as good as it can be? In most cases, the answer is no.

Give attention to building out a content strategy. Over time you’ll begin to attract regular and new readers because you took the time to research what they want.

We often encounter businesses that have produced a wealth of content, but things have dropped off in recent years. Rather than coming up with completely new ideas for blog production, why not take a few of these previous blogs and update them to include new information. Maybe you did an outdoor product market analysis piece in 2016. Something like this would be perfect to repurpose into new information.

This is much of what we are referring to when we say to “baste” your content. Taking the previous fat and seasonings from the bottom of the pan and bringing it back up to coat the top can leave you with a succulent and delicious piece of meat. In the same regard, rebuilding old blogs to include new information can contain a wealth of potential content for you to repurpose into something updated.

One of the main areas this strategy can help you is time-consumption. Each article you write or publish has taken a measurable amount of time to produce.

If you are able to turn old blogs into guides, white papers, and other forms of digital assets, you establish yourself as an open resource and start to gain that trust with your client or customer quickly. This is especially important for content strategies in the outdoor industry as trust is a major determining factor.

Imagine yourself with a checklist of 13 different avenues to post your new piece of content. If you are posting 2-3 blogs per month, this can be 26-39 instances of basting your content, a pretty good grab overall if you ask us. While there are many sources to publish and republish content on the web, here are a few of our favorites:

Using these tools, you are sure to save some time and resources. Maybe this time when you’re finishing off the turkey, you’ll think of your content strategy and a few items you may be able to “baste”. Have a wonderful holiday season!


3 Reasons Why Your Calls To Action Are Not Converting

Have you ever read through a blog post and left because no one “told” you what to do next? You were left hanging in space, free to leave at anytime. Leaving your visitors (prospects) hanging is the first simple way to NOT generate more leads. It’s important to have calls to action in every step of the sales funnel. If one directs you to a free educational download your focus should be on your messaging. 

One essential element of any solid inbound marketing strategy includes visually-focused content that guides a visitor through the buyers journey. These important invitations to the next level are the job of a good “Call-to-Action”. Also commonly referred to as a CTA. Think of them as road signs, leading the way to the desired destination.

Here are some questions we receive for our clients:

  • “I need a button for an email that directs my leads to a secondary form on my website. Is this possible?”
  • “I’m having issues tracking the conversion rate of my new eBook offering. What am I doing wrong?”
  • “Do we need a catalog of CTA’s for each stage of the inbound sales funnel?”

But first, where are the most important places to include a CTA? A CTA is, quite literally, a hyperlinked button, that guides your reader to take a desired next step.

A CTA acts as a link between exploratory content that your prospect is interested in and premium content offers that can only be accessed by providing personal information. Think of a time where you read the summary of a blog post. If you’re interested in finding out what the article examines, you simply choose the “Read More” button at the bottom. If they don’t turn into leads now, they’re more likely to come back if they see your website as insightful. 

Here are a few ideas about why your CTAs may not be getting the responses you hoped for.

1. Target Your Buyer Persona

Tailored messaging delivered at precise moments during the buyer’s journey through clickable CTAs will resonate with your leads. The more you know about your visitors, the more segmented your content will be in the future.

Your CTA messaging should have a direct impact on someone’s willingness to click and move further down the buyer’s journey. Because your buyer personas have key identifiers attached to each step of the journey, instead of using the usual “Learn More” CTAs you can get a little more creative with your messaging such as “Check It Out.”

It would be a big mistake to send content to prospects with impromptu CTA messaging that was developed for evangelists.

Example of our inbound marketing services page.

If the content that comes ahead of your CTA is not informative or bland, even the world’s best CTA is going to have low conversions.

Leaving you with that gut-wrenching feeling of failure. If a visitor clicks your CTA, they should have a general sense of who you are, how you can help address their specific needs and what information they need to begin the sales process. The CTA reinforces the action they’re about to take towards achieving a solution to their problem.

2. Don’t Sell All The Time

Your goal as a business owner should be to provide educational information that is useful to your industry, not just flat-out selling your products and services. You do not want to overwhelm your leads or customers with forceful selling. Your calls to action should be inviting and succinct and address problems that your targeted buyer persona’s express along their buyer’s journey.

CTAs are not the place to begin a dialogue with your leads or prospects. It is however, the place for prospects to begin the buyer journey. Remember, we develop our CTAs based on buyer persona research.

However, the research you conducted should give a clear indication of how your prospects communicate and take action in their daily lives. If it doesn’t, you need to start over and re-evaluate. 

3. Let Your Calls To Action Create Urgency

Guiding your leads naturally should be your top priority. Internet researchers are very indecisive while browsing for solutions. That’s bad news, because the longer a buyer sits and analyzes, the more openings arise for your competitors to steal your leads. Your content needs to nurture the lead to act immediately or at a later date.

The internet is one big library of anything you might want. As a result, it becomes more difficult to decide if you’re finding the best solution to your problem. Be the clear answer to their challenge, and make them want to choose you.

For instance, Amazon does a great job in converting leads into die-hard customers and eventually brand evangelists. We’ve all purchased products through Amazon, and they already know that we’re not interested in receiving deals on products we never buy. Instead they send detailed newsletters of items purchased in the past, with clear calls to action attached to each call out. They go the extra mile in making the message actionable.

Phrases such as “View our product line” and the powerful “1-Click Ordering” CTA can be seen all over their site and email campaigns. Because Amazon has nailed down their target audience and how they shop, the focus has shifted from carrying influential brands to the messaging that will resonate with the lead and convert them to customers.

These principles have already been deployed in the B2B world. And they still continue to work.

Because our clients know their customers will receive the right information at the right time, in each step of the buyer’s journey. We accomplish this by using effective calls to action messaging that is developed for your buyer personas. Using general messaging might bring in a lot of leads. But it’s very concerning to find out more than 90% of those leads had a minimal impact on your sales. The right compelling messages help to eliminate that concern.

If you’re interested in learning more about Call-to-Actions and upping your inbound marketing game, take a look at the Sage Lion Media inbound marketing blog.

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Inbound Marketing is Like Air Traffic Control

When I was hired by Sage Lion Media at the beginning of the new year, I was tasked with implementing agile/scrum methodologies. Prior to joining Sage Lion Media, I worked at a few reputable digital marketing agencies located in Los Angeles, Denver & Chicago.

And before entering the world of inbound marketing I had the privilege of working at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Control Tower.

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