Digital advertising offers unique opportunities to target ads to specific customers. But making sure the right information gets in front of the right customer at the right time can be a challenge. The Internet is a big place and the targets are always moving - how can you be sure your ad lands in front of the customer who's most likely to respond?

Here's a situation we see often. A few years ago, we met with a client who sold water filters. When most people hear “water filter,” they think of the $30 filtered water pitchers you keep in the refrigerator. Actually, she sold $5,000 whole home water filters. An SEO company had advised her to target "water filters" in her digital advertising and said she would get exposure to approximately 10,000 potential searches per month in this market. In reality, most people searching for the phrase "water filters" are looking to spend $30, not several thousand. Of the 10,000 people who were typing "water filters" into their Google search boxes, maybe .04% were looking for the product she sold.

Our recommendation was to target "home water filter" or "whole home water filter" instead. There are fewer people searching for those terms, maybe 1 for every 1,000 searching for just plain "water filters." However, if our client could get the same four people to convert to customers, she'd be making a 40% return on her investment.

Nobody wants to waste their marketing budget on ads that miss the mark. So how can you be sure you're aiming at the right target? It's not an exact science, but we've learned a thing or two over the years. Here are our top five tips for perfecting the aim of your digital advertising.

1. Put yourself in the customer's shoes.

As an expert in your field, it can be challenging to think about your products and services in layman's terms. When you create digital advertising, though, it's important to consider how the average person finds information online. What words are they most likely to use when they search for a product or service you provide? How specific are their search terms?

For example, heating and air conditioning professionals roll their eyes when customers call their furnaces "heaters." However, that's the word most of us use to describe one of the main products they sell. So, it's necessary that "heater" be included in the keywords and phrases for the digital advertising of any HVAC company. Whatever your expertise, consider how a non-industry person might think and talk about what you do.

2. Create digital advertising that is consistent with the content on your site.

If a potential customer clicks on a banner that takes them to your site, and your site has nothing to do with what they’re searching for, you've probably lost their business. However, when digital ads are clearly aligned with both the look and content of your website, people find the information they expected and you've already delivered on a promise in their minds. You've started to build credibility and they see you as a reliable source of information. It’s hard to put a price tag on creating that kind of first impression, but it’s not hard to do when your digital ads deliver what they promise.

3. Be ok with a smaller audience if you have the right target.

A well-targeted ad may cost a little more up front, but in the long run, it's a much more cost effective way to advertise. In the example about our client who sold water filters, she could place a 10-cent ad and get 10,000 clicks, which would cost her $1,000. But if she placed a well-targeted $15 ad and got four people to click on it, that would only set her back $60. And, the likelihood of one of those four people becoming a customer is significantly higher. Most of us would spend $15 to make $5,000 all day, every day. That's the kind of return you’re more likely to see if ads are targeted to the right customers, even if that means fewer customers see the ad overall.

4. Think long term.

Success takes time. There's no switch you can flip that will direct tons of traffic to your website. Digital marketing accelerates more like a cruise ship than a speed boat. It takes a while to get up to speed but once you do, you've built the momentum to keep things moving effectively. We recommend setting a budget that allows you to invest in digital advertising in for a minimum of 90 days. That's enough time to get things rolling and build a little momentum in the market you're aiming for.

5. Analyze, test, analyze, change, etc.

We say this a lot: the Internet is not Field of Dreams. Just because it's there doesn't mean people will show up. To perfect your digital aim, you'll need to make adjustments as you go. You have to constantly move, change, test, analyze, adjust, etc. to be successful.

Digital advertisers get to take advantage of a plethora of metrics for measuring their ad’s effectiveness. You can use this data, experiment a little, and apply what you learn as you go. For example, try publishing two ads at the same time with the same goal but with different content. Then look at the data, see which one performs better, and pull the other one. Another advantage of digital advertising is that it’s easy to quickly adapt the materials you’re putting out there as you learn more about your market.

Ready to work on your digital advertising aim? Midwestern Interactive can help. We help businesses, individuals, and nonprofits develop a more engaging online presence through branding, websites, apps, and more. We can help you find your customers, increase your SEO, and publish digital ads that land in front of the people most likely to need your products and services. Contact us today and let’s get started.

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