Running Ads Yourself?

Entering into the world of advertising can be a daunting task, especially if you are running all marketing efforts yourself. You’re probably either spending your own hard-earned money as an entrepreneur, or you’re responsible for managing your boss’s money well as an in-house marketer. In either case, you want to make sure you aren’t wasting time or money. In this article, we will provide you with five things to check to make sure you aren’t losing your shorts on your advertising campaigns.

1. Set Top Level Goals for Your Ad Campaign.

The first step to creating an effective ad campaign is to define what you want to achieve. Do you have top-level goals in mind that you’re trying to reach? Are you creating campaigns that align with the digital sales funnel? The digital sales funnel generally consists of the following beginning at the top: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, and Retention. If you put money behind a campaign with no goal, it can be difficult or even impossible to know if that money was well spent. Increase the effectiveness of your ads (and your marketing budget) by setting top-level goals for your ad campaigns and creating your ads from that foundation. Here are a few common goals for advertising campaigns.

Brand Awareness

In a brand awareness campaign, your goal is to communicate a brand message to as many people in your target market as possible. Rather than advertise sales for specific items or services, a brand awareness campaign is designed to get your name out there. This goal aligns with the top of digital sales funnels to let potential customers know you exist and what your brand does to improve the lives of its customers. 

In-store Visits

Setting a goal of in-store visits is common for businesses whose sales process doesn’t involve digital transactions. Think of a radio ad from a local car dealer encouraging listeners to stop by for great deals on their inventory. This goal aligns itself toward the top of the digital sales funnel because it still generates awareness for a new customer but also goes a step further to generate interest within the customer by providing some sort of incentive to stop by as a form of a call to action (CTA).

Leads via Form Submissions

As a customer moves further down the digital sales funnel for a brand, they should ideally respond to ads that guide them to a lead generation form. A lead generation form is a form on a website where a user voluntarily submits contact information that you can now add to a database like a CRM (customer relationship management) software. These types of forms could range from a “Sign up for our e-newsletter” to a “Request a Quote” form. Lead generation forms could also be where you provide useful information as a “Download our Free Guide” for them to input their information.

Having customers submit forms can be a business’s preferred action for a customer to take on their website. If that business’s standard sales process is more involved than a standard eCommerce site, they can get the form submission and pass that lead on to their sales team. In other cases, a form submission can be a transitional call to action that requires less initial commitment on the part of the customer. This gives them a way to engage with your brand without actually purchasing anything. A transitional call to action is a chance to begin the customer relationship and start establishing trust that can eventually guide the customer to a sale. 


This is the big one. Everyone who can sell products directly on their website should be running ads with the intent to generate real sales. This represents the final portion of the digital sales funnel: purchase and retention. Money can be wasted on messaging that doesn’t accomplish its goal. Creating ads with a mindset of completing the funnel and getting that customer to either purchase for the first time or to purchase from you again will help you create an effective ad.


2. Know What You’re Paying For.

If you have ads that are up and running, you will be able to see performance data such as impressions, clicks, and conversions. Do you know how much you’re willing to pay for your business’s measurable objective? Do you know what the objective should be? The top-level goal of your campaign should help determine what performance data point you should focus on.

Impressions and Clicks

What are impressions and clicks? Impressions are the number of times your ad was shown to a user, while clicks are the number of times a user clicked on the ad. These are two of the first data points any digital marketer will encounter. If you are running brand awareness campaigns, these are great metrics to look at because they tell you how many times your top-level ad was shown and how many times it was interacted with. This is great, but these data points aren’t enough when it comes to campaigns that deal with the bottom of the digital sales funnel.

Measurable Conversions

When you are selling products on your website and running ads to help accomplish that, you can’t see how many sales you made from the “Clicks” metric. You need something further – conversion tracking. Once you have properly set up a conversion action for the campaign, you’ll be able to track conversions such as successful form submissions, product purchases, or phone calls from your website. This is useful to know how much you’re paying in ad spend to achieve a desired action from a customer. From this point, you’ll be able to use the data to make decisions on adjusting campaigns to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing budget.


3. Research Alternative Distribution Channels.

In advertising, you are buying attention where attention exists, but you need to make sure it is the right attention. If your goal is to increase top-level brand awareness for your business, you want to reach as many of the right people as possible. A skateboard brand targeting teens and young adults would arguably be wasting their ad spend if they ran TV ads during the five o’clock news slots. They’d be paying for attention, just not the right attention.

Define your target market

An easy way to stay on track with your brand and budget is to define a target market. This can be as in-depth as you want, but thinking through rough demographics all the way to creating a target individual persona can be helpful. If your target persona is the type of person to watch the five o’clock news, then running TV ads during that time would make sense.

Find the most efficient way to reach that audience

If your target persona also watches content on a video streaming platform such as Hulu, running ads there would also make sense. But now you deal with another question: “Which platform should I run my ads on?” That can be a difficult question to answer, but if your marketing budget is tight, the answer would be whichever platform you reach more of the right audience for less ad spend. In this example, the cost per thousand views (CPM) is the pivotal data point to compare and make your decision on.


4. Ensure a Great Customer Experience.

Once a customer has responded to your ad and has now reached a landing page on your website or called your phone, their experience will influence if they continue to interact with or purchase from your business. You can have the best ad messaging and structure, but if your landing page isn’t clear or doesn’t make an obvious path for the customer to purchase from you, how can you expect them to convert and purchase your product or service? Or imagine if a customer is greeted with poor customer service on a phone call that came from an ad. Your ads may be perfect, but you can still lose your shorts on ad spend from stages of the process following the ad experience.

Working with your sales team or web team to ensure a great customer experience can help make your ads more effective. Sales and customer service teams should be trained on your brand messaging to have a consistent voice with customers, and should always be polite and prepared to help the customer get what they need. Your website should follow best practices for design and messaging that help the customer understand what your business does and how to purchase within a few seconds of landing on your page. 


5. Track Results and Adjust Your Ad Strategy.

If you have set goals, carefully crafted your ads, and have accumulated data for a period of time, it’s time to check your results. This is where you get introspective and should ask yourself a few questions:

  • Did my ads generate phone calls, website traffic, and/or sales based on my top-level goals?
  • How much did it cost to generate these conversion metrics on each ad platform? 
  • Did one ad platform outperform another? If so, consider reallocating some ad spend to the more effective campaign.
  • What was my…
    • CPM (Cost per 1000 views)
    • CTR (Click Through Rate) Total clicks over total impressions.
    • CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) Total cost over total conversions. 
    • ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) Total campaign revenue over campaign cost. This is an important metric that can be difficult to measure on campaigns that don’t result in direct sales. It is good practice to measure the average value of each conversion type that isn’t a direct sale so that you can still calculate this statistic. For example, if you know each form submission lead your ad generates costs $8, and each lead that actually turns into a customer generates $300 in revenue for your business, and for every 100 leads, only 4% turn into customers; then you can say your lead generation campaign that generated 2137 form submissions resulted in 85 actual customers that cost of $17,096 and generated estimated revenue of $25,500 resulting in a ROAS of 149%.


If you make adjustments to your ad campaign, you can begin to analyze and compare data at the end of each campaign period, whether that’s monthly, quarterly, or annually. There are several more data points to consider when performing reviews, but these are some of the most common. 


6. Don’t Lose your Passion

It can be easy to start chasing metrics and money, but you should never sacrifice your passion to do so. Businesses are organizations that make money. Successful businesses are organizations that choose to focus on improving the lives of people by providing solutions and products. People tend to buy from people, and if your passion for helping better the lives of those in your market is waning, you are removing the personable nature of your business. Stay encouraged, because marketing can be such a great avenue to share your passion.