Visitor Source #9: Paid Advertising
Like email marketing, paid advertising is often also seen by photographers as some kind of a crazed monster in the world of marketing.
Depending on who you listen to, paid ads are either a complete waste of time and money, or the best thing to happen to the Internet.
Quite a spectrum of opinions there!
The truth is, those who dismiss paid advertising as a total waste of money are often those who tried it a couple of times, got it all wrong, and ended up out of pocket, or with what we call a negative ROI (return on investment).
Based on their experience, it clearly was a waste of time and money, and it’s easy to blame the advertising platform itself for the problem when, in fact, the cause was most likely the implementation of the ad, the targeting, or the destination of the ad itself.
In some cases, I’ve seen people claim that Facebook advertising is nothing more than a scam, which is clearly nonsense given the success a lot of businesses have with it.
In actual fact, paid advertising is a great way for you to short-circuit and overcome the challenges of SEO.
Why wait weeks and months for Google to rank your pages high in the search results when you can simply buy your way to the top with an effective ad on Google AdWords or Facebook?
Paid Advertising Can Help Your Marketing Evolve
One of the big problems photographers face online is not having enough website traffic, a problem this course aims to correct. While they might get enough visitors to keep things ticking over at a low background level, this is nowhere near enough to gather any meaningful statistical data on individual page performance.
This makes it hard to know whether or not a specific landing page with a call to action is going to deliver the results you want.
The choice here is to either wait a long time for enough data to be gathered, or to try to optimize the page blindly.
This is where ads can come to the rescue because they can be used to drive a significant amount of targeted visitors to a landing page so you can test the conversion rate of the page and see what you might need to change.
The two most common forms of online ads photographers are likely to use are Facebook ads and Google AdWords.
- Facebook ads are designed to target specific groups of people and interests, and they show up any time those people are on Facebook.
- Google AdWords are more targeted to specific keywords and will only show up when people perform actual searches.
In general, Facebook ads are cheaper to run than Google AdWords and they also have a higher click-through-rate (CTR), so Facebook is where most people tend to start with online advertising.
It pays to keep your targeting fairly specific, but not so narrow that you only reach a small number of people.
One of the more powerful forms of advertising these days is called “remarketing” or “retargeting” where your ads can be shown to people who visited your website but left without taking the action you wanted them to. Retargeting is quite effective, and you’ve no doubt seen it yourself when you searched for something on Amazon, let’s say, and then you were followed all over the Internet by ads for those products on other websites.
Despite sounding quite complicated, retargeting is actually quite easy to set up, and you can find lots of information about it on Facebook and around the web.
One thing to bear in mind about paid advertising, which I see as the number one mistake people make, is to never point your ads to your home page or to a generic service page. Instead, you should always use a dedicated landing page as the destination for your ads so you can track results, but also provide a seamless and targeted experience for the people who click on the ad.
Finally, you can also pay to place sponsored blog posts or articles on other websites who might not normally accept guest posts. These can sometimes be costly, depending on the website, but they may also provide you with a long-term source of website visitors.
You can find your pixel code in the “ads manager”, under “tools” and “pixels”.
If you don’t have a pixel yet, you can create it. Simply copy the code, and then insert it as a header script into your website and blog. The way you do that will be determined by your website platform and theme. Once installed, Facebook will start building an audience for you, to whom you can advertise in the future.