Advertisers define media in two terms: digital and traditional. Traditional media encompasses the advertising techniques of old, like television commercials and printed newspaper ads, which were once the cornerstone of the industry—until the arrival of digital media.
The definition of digital media is much more expansive than traditional media, and it’s constantly evolving to include even more ways for brands to reach their customers. What was once reserved for intrepid and trailblazing brands, digital media has now become the dominant force in advertising today, surpassing traditional media in spending for the first time last year.
So why is digital advertising taking off while spending on traditional media falls off? The answer lies in three of the biggest letters in business: ROI.
Digital media allows marketers to tailor their ads and target their audiences in ways that traditional media can not, which means less money spent reaching people who don’t care.
But all of these tools require someone who knows how to use them. It’s easy to get lost in the digital marketer’s toolbox and find yourself more confused than when you started. So here are my top 10 tips to maximize your digital marketing budget.
1. Establish Your Marketing Goals to Align With Your Business Goals
The easiest path to digital media failure is by starting off on the wrong foot. Before you start creating ads or identifying target audiences, you need to identify your goals. Without any specific and measurable goals, it’s impossible to judge the success of your campaign.
We recommend starting off with one advertising goal that ladders up to a larger business objective, like building awareness or generating sales. This goal will help you determine which metrics to focus on when building your digital media campaigns, as well as help you establish a budget later on.
2. Choose Your Platforms Wisely
After establishing your goals, it’s time to choose which platforms you’ll use to achieve them. A few of the most popular ad platforms include search, display, social, video, and connected TV. Each platform comes with benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to do your research to select the right platform for your goals.
We recommend starting with a platform that you’re already somewhat familiar with, like social ads on Facebook or Twitter.
3. Keep Your Audience Specific but Broad
Digital media platforms allow you to get very specific about who you target with your ads—but it is possible to be too specific.
You don’t want your audience to be too narrow or you won’t get any results. It’s tempting to get very granular in who you target, but doing so shrinks the total pool of people who can see your ad. If you aren’t seeing the results you want with your custom audience, many digital media platforms offer the ability to create “look-alike audiences” to widen your target audience. These are computer-generated groups of people who are likely to share similar interests and behaviors with your existing audience.
That being said, an audience that is too broad will spread your advertising budget too thin. The most difficult balance to strike in digital media is creating an audience that is specific enough to reach the right people but broad enough to achieve results. There’s no secret formula to reach this balance, but a little trial and error never hurt!
4. Location, Location, Location
Just because digital media gives you the ability to reach audiences far and wide doesn’t mean that you need an expansive target audience. It’s okay to start off small by targeting a few key cities or states before spending your money on a nationwide campaign.
5. Build Your Creative to Match Your Audience, Goals, and Platform
An effective ad needs to be tailored both to your audience and the platform, as well as align with the goals you set at the start.
Any marketer will tell you that you need to know your audience to create an effective ad, but an impactful digital ad needs to be appropriate for the platform as well. Understanding the capabilities and best practices of your chosen ad platform is also vital to your campaign success.
Regardless of your audience, goals, or platform, these are some general best practices that make ads more effective.
- Be sparing with your use of text on image ads.
- Keep display ads simple and avoid complicated graphics or animations.
- Include a strong incentive and call to action.
- Avoid long videos and make sure video ads feature an initial attention-grabbing hook.
6. Set a Budget Around Your Goals
Another reason why it’s so important to set measurable goals is that it helps you set a budget for your campaign later on.
A key ingredient to maximizing your budget and increasing ROI is knowing what return you expect from your initial investment.
As a rule of thumb, the more action you want a user to take after seeing your ad, the more you should expect to spend to achieve the desired result. For example, a campaign aimed at increasing sales by 15% will require a higher budget than a campaign aimed at increasing awareness by the same amount.
Other factors that you should consider when setting a budget include:
- How large is your target audience?
- How long will your campaign run?
- How much experience do you have with the given platform? (Don’t pour a bunch of money into a platform you’re unfamiliar with.)
7. Quality Over Quantity, Always
Nothing drains a digital media budget faster than having too many underperforming campaigns running at the same time.
It can take a lot of resources to get a digital media campaign off the ground. In addition to the money you spend placing the ads, it takes time to create the ads and perform the proper implementation and monitoring. And all of these costs multiply with every new campaign you create.
Creating a few great campaigns instead of several campaigns of lesser quality makes sure your business is always putting its best foot forward. Google even gives ads a quality score that judges them on several factors, like the expected click-through rate and ad relevance. Ads with higher quality scores can lead to lower prices and better ad positions, which makes it even more important to prioritize quality over quantity in your digital media.
8. Keep an Eye on Your Active Campaigns
The most common misconception about digital media is that it’s a “set it and forget it” project. You should be checking on your active campaigns on a daily basis to make sure that all parts are running smoothly and achieving results. Without frequent check-ins, you run the risk of letting an underperforming campaign overstay its welcome.
You should be optimizing your campaign while it’s still active to maximize your campaign budget. Daily tasks can include responding to questions on social ads, checking conversion metrics, and shifting money from underperforming ad sets to more successful campaigns. All of these daily activities make sure you are getting the most from your ad budget.
9. Gather Data and Analyze Trends
Compared to other forms of advertising, digital media provides marketers with the most amount of data at their disposal—but if used irresponsibly, this data can end up doing more harm than good.
The most important thing to recognize is that results do not happen overnight. Newcomers to digital media have the tendency to press “start” on a campaign and expect results to roll in right away. Unfortunately, this is not how it works and a seasoned marketer has to learn patience to avoid getting distracted by the numbers.
Checking your numbers too often can also cause you to overreact to minor daily fluctuations in campaign performance.
We recommend doing a monthly overview of your campaign performance and key metrics. Reporting too often and you can lose the forest from the trees, but too much time between reports can let poor performing campaigns exist longer than they should.
The longer your campaign runs, the more data you will collect. Over time, you can start identifying trends that will help you optimize your campaign spending in the future.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Consult an Expert (or Become One Yourself!)
The more time you spend managing digital media campaigns, the more expertise you will acquire, which will translate to better results. There are a ton of free online classes you can take that will give you tips and tricks on making the most from your digital media budget, but even with all the help available online, nothing beats getting help from experts.
We have a lot of experience helping businesses grow through digital media, and we’d be more than happy to help you in any way we can. If you need some support getting your businesses in front of the right audience, feel free to reach out.