We focus on inbound marketing. Our clients see much more traffic from organic search than from any ad buys. However, if you have the funds to do some advertising in addition to your content marketing, you will want to make sure you put your resources toward the right media. So how can you decide — where should you advertise?
Gut feelings or data?
We have been surprised by how many decisions about advertising are based on gut feelings. This is an area where there is an enormous amount of reliable data, yet we often hear arguments in favor of one medium or another because it is cool, or high prestige, or some other non-measurable adjective. We say, even if you are determined to go with your gut, have a look at the data first.
For example, this chart shows the percentage of American adults who use various ad-containing media to get information, according to Pew Research. We can see that the reach ranges from 11% who ever use a phone book (and frankly, we’d have guessed a lower number) to 92% who use Google.
If you’re paying every month to be listed in the phone book or the newspaper, you should probably think again.
What about your data?
However, it depends on your particular circumstances. Thinking about newspapers, we can see that there are big differences in the reach of newspapers to different age groups. More than twice as many people 65 and older read a newspaper every day than those 64 and younger.
If we’re selling prenatal vitamins or adventure sports gear, we should not invest in newspapers. If we sell hearing aids, we might include newspapers in the mix. And since we can see the age of visitors to our website, we don’t even have to speculate. We can use our first-party data to determine whether our target market is likely to read a newspaper or not.
Test your hypotheses
If, either because of the data or in spite of it, you choose to place ads in a newspaper, you must set them up to provide measurable results.
With Google or Facebook ads, you can measure the number of impressions, likes, clicks, or comments you receive. Put a call to action on the page you link to, and you can track conversions as well as reach and engagement. With radio, newspapers, or the phone book, you can’t measure impressions or engagement. Your media sales person can tell you how many subscribers they have or how many people they distribute their publication to, but not how many people actually see your ad or respond to it.
This is where it is very helpful to have a coupon, a discount code, a special phone number, a QR code leading to a specific page on your website, or some other good way of determining who has actually looked at your ad, rather than using it to drain their fried chicken or line their catbox.
When you are sure you have a mechanism for tracking, keep track. Look back after 90-150 days and see what kind of results you’ve had. Better yet, invest equally in two advertising platforms and compare the results you get from the two.
Then put your money where your ads had the best results.